With silent SMS, cell site analysis and IMSI catchers, authorities can pinpoint the location of a mobile device to within a few metres.
Last year, the German Federal Criminal Police sent about 68,000 silent SMS in 33 cases (one of which was a danger aversion case), which is a significant increase compared to preceding years. The Federal Police sent around 48,000 silent text messages in 56 criminal proceedings, which is roughly the average of past years. This is stated in the answer to a parliamentary question by the Left Party in the Bundestag. „Germany: Mobile phones as a tracking bug“ weiterlesen
The German police are increasingly using photographs to name unknown persons. More and more, pictures from social networks are being used. Recognition is also possible if the persons are wearing a protective mouth-nose mask. Some authorities also use so-called super-recognisers.
A growing number of people are being identified by German police forces with the help of facial recognition. Since 2018, they have doubled every year; in 2020, this amounted to 4,403 people. This is what the Federal Ministry of the Interior writes in its answer to a written question on the police facial recognition system (GES). Around one third of those affected were named by the Federal Police.
Since 2008, the GES has been centrally managed by the Federal Criminal Police Office and is available to the Federal Police and all 16 State Criminal Police Offices. A query can be made if a person is a suspect but his or her name is not known. The type of offence charged is irrelevant; the system can also be searched in the case of an insult or shoplifting. „Facial recognition: Number of persons identified in Germany doubles annually“ weiterlesen
The Berlin police fail to crack the mobile phone and laptop of a neo-Nazi. This is stated in the final report of the investigation team on arson and spraying in the Neukölln district. Federal authorities and companies have also chipped their teeth at the devices.
The investigation of a right-wing series of attacks in Berlin is made considerably more difficult by the encryption of devices that the police confiscated from suspects. This is stated in the final report of the „Fokus“ investigation team. Accordingly, the police have asked several official and private agencies for help with decryption, each time unsuccessfully. The classified report has 72 pages, in a much shorter open version the explanations on digital forensics are missing. There is only a footnote stating that „work continues on the decryption of two encrypted devices of a suspect“.
For several years left-wing activists and projects in the Berlin district of Neukölln have been plagued by arson and spraying, while three members of the right-wing scene known to the police are suspected. Because the police were slow in investigating, Senator of the Interior Andreas Geisel (SPD) set up the „Fokus“ investigation team over a year ago. „Independent“ police officers were supposed to check the work of their colleagues. However, there is still no new evidence against the three main suspects Sebastian T., Tilo P. and Julian B. after the end of the new investigation. „Right-wing attacks: German Police and Europol cannot decrypt suspects‘ devices“ weiterlesen
Queries of biometric photographs in the INPOL file are increasing drastically; at the Federal Police they have more than tripled in comparison with the previous year. Face recognition is also becoming increasingly successful, with twice as many people being identified as in 2018.
In public spaces, police authorities in Germany do not use facial recognition in real time, but retrospectively. The technology is intended to identify unknown persons whose photos were taken by video surveillance, for example, near crime scenes. After the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, the police there also wanted to determine suspected criminals with facial recognition, but the success was poor.
The biometric facial images with which the photos of unknown persons are compared are stored in the police database INPOL-Z. Although it is centrally managed by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), it is operated together with the state criminal investigation offices. The Federal Police can also access it. The number of photographs stored with personal data in INPOL has once again risen significantly, with around 5.8 million portrait photographs of 3.65 million people. Compared to 2018, the increase is about five percent (310,000 photos). „Significantly more facial recognition at German police“ weiterlesen
The Federal Criminal Police Office can search a database with almost 6 million facial images, the system is now being equipped with artificial intelligence
Last week, the German Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer surprisingly moved away from plans to expand facial recognition in public spaces. He had demanded that the use of so-called intelligent video surveillance be anchored in the Federal Police Law. In the current draft of the new law, the topic is now excluded. However, it is questionable whether this really means a renunciation of the technology. The Ministry is of the opinion that § 27 of the Federal Police Act allows the automatic evaluation of camera images anyway. It states that the Federal Police may „use automatic image recording and image capturing devices“. Actually, this meant automatic continuous operation and remote control of video cameras. In the legal literature, it is therefore disputed whether the analysis of images using algorithms or artificial intelligence is covered by this. „German authorities improve face recognition“ weiterlesen
Procedures according to §§ 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO) to determine the whereabouts and identification of mobile phones in Germany
In addition to telecommunications surveillance (§ 100a StPO) and online searches (§ 100b StPO), German police authorities use technical means within the framework of §§ 100 StPO to determine the location of mobile phones. These include the so-called „silent SMS“, IMSI-Catcher and cell site analysis. Customs and the secret services are also partially authorised to perform these tasks. Six-monthly parliamentary inquiries in the Bundestag document that the number of measures for federal authorities has remained at about the same level in recent years. According to the figures of individual states, the investigative methods under Sections 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are in some cases used much more frequently there than by federal authorities. Some measures for the localisation of telephone owners are in a grey area and have led to legal adjustments. A ruling by the Federal Court of Justice last year could be the reason why the figures for „silent SMS“ have suddenly fallen sharply. Some federal states are currently merging into „Joint Competence and Service Centres“ in the field of police telecommunications surveillance (GKDZ), which are being set up in Hamburg and Leipzig/Dresden. It is possible that with these centralised GKDZs, the number of measures for telecommunications surveillance within the framework of §§ 100 StPO will increase further. „The tracking bug in your pocket: Mobile phone surveillance in Germany“ weiterlesen
The blog Netzpolitik.org graphically displays the sending of „Silent SMS“ every six months. This shows the extent to which police forces and secret services use mobile phones as tracking bugs. Because of this „condensation“ of information worthy of protection, the figures for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution are classified as „secret“.
German Federal authorities currently use significantly less „Silent SMS“ than in previous years. This is shown by the actual figures, which the Federal Ministry of the Interior (MoI) provides on request every six months. Accordingly, the Federal Police (BPOL) sent 20,152 „Silent SMS“ in the first half of 2019 (second half of 2018: 50,654; first half of 2018: 38,990). There was also a decrease by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). In the first half of 2019 the figure was only 6,302, compared with 21,337 secret text messages previously sent by the authority. „Less „Silent SMS“ from German police, but more secrecy for domestic intelligence“ weiterlesen
The Christchurch attack has promoted discussions on the mandatory removal of online content. At several levels, the German government is involved in global initiatives. However, the German exaggerated requests for deletion find little sympathy.
The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is not very successful in removing terrorist Internet content. With 2,800 files or postings, not even half of all German reports were removed by Internet service providers after an examination. This was written by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in response to a parlamentarian question.
Thus the BKA is clearly below the quota of 85%, as it is reached by the EU police agency Europol for reports to the companies. Since 2015, Europol has been sending requests for deletion via its „Internet Referral Unit“ (EU IRU). In October last year, the BKA also set up a „national Internet Referral Unit“ and since then has sent more than 6,000 reports to Internet service providers via the Europol channel. „Uploadfilter for crime scene videos: EU governments ensure „crisis response protocol“ for US Internet companies“ weiterlesen
Despite an explicit ban, many countries use Interpol arrest warrants to pursue their opposition. The police organisation therefore wants to examine tens of thousands of alerts issued between 2014 and 2016 more closely. The main focus is on possible asylum seekers.
Article 3 of Interpol’s statutes prohibits any „any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character“. The international warrants for arrest (the so-called „Red Notices“) must not undermine this policy. However, some states have used the Interpol arrest warrants to prosecute government opponents. A special „Notices and Diffusion Task Force“ to deal with this has recently started work. It now consists of seven members from Germany, Slovakia, Croatia, Sweden and Ukraine, according to a EU document now published by the British organisation Statewatch. „Misuse of warrants: Interpol wants to clean up“ weiterlesen
Some Member States use the international police organisation to persecute their opposition. 80,000 arrest warrants are therefore being re-examined.
The Interpol police organisation may not use its international arrest warrants for political persecution. Article 3 of the Statutes therefore prohibits „any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character“. Nevertheless, the Interpol channel is used by the 194 member states for politically motivated searches. For this reason, the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), which is responsible for arrest warrants, examines the deployment of „suitable personnel“ in order to check all existing arrest warrants at Interpol for a possible violation of the Interpol statutes. The employees are to be recruited from the state justice administrations. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has already been sending a fully qualified lawyer to a corresponding control commission at Interpol since 1 January. „German government wants to repair Interpol“ weiterlesen