Secret German drone defence

The Federal Police secures all German commercial airports against unwanted approaches by small copters. Mobile installations are followed by a stationary platform

Obstructions caused by small drones at German airports remain at the same level as in previous years. In 2021, 98 incidents were reported to Deutsche Flugsicherung. This is according to the Federal Ministry of the Interior in its answer to a parlamentarian question from the Left Party. In 2018, there were 158 incidents, which is the highest figure recorded to date.

Despite this, the government is making great efforts to defend commercial airports against drones. The public is not supposed to know which mobile systems are installed there. The reason given is that knowledge would allow „opponents“ to draw conclusions about the technical capabilities of the police authorities. „Secret German drone defence“ weiterlesen

Germany: Mobile phones as a tracking bug

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

Germany and Great Britain: Confiscation of asylum seekers‘ mobile phones can be illegal

In many cases, European authorities confiscate the phones of refugees after they have crossed the border in order to check their identity or to identify those helping them to flee. The people concerned do not always get their devices back. This means additional stress in the asylum procedure.

The Home Office in London admitted on Thursday that the blanket confiscation of migrants‘ mobile phones is illegal. According to the British daily Independent, Home Secretary Priti Patel’s lawyer told this to the High Court. The judges are hearing a case brought by three asylum seekers from Iraq and Iran. They were arrested in 2020 after entering the country in small boats across the English Channel. In December, an appeals court ruled that this did not constitute illegal entry.

The authorities detained the devices for at least three months following an order and examined them forensically. According to the newspaper, in search of phone numbers, messages, pictures, videos, traffic data and GPS coordinates the entire memory of the devices was read out. The plaintiffs‘ lawyers believe that the practice could affect hundreds or thousands of mobile phones a year. This is contrary to data protection and the European Convention on Human Rights, the British Home Office has now confirmed. The practice of pressuring asylum seekers to hand over their PIN numbers was also unlawful, it said. „Germany and Great Britain: Confiscation of asylum seekers‘ mobile phones can be illegal“ weiterlesen

„Thin blue line“: German police trainer warns against radicalisation

Police sometimes see themselves as the last „blue line“ against chaos and crime. Various police stations also tweet about this self-image, which is popular among right-wing officers. Websites where police employees  also participate sell patches, mugs and shirts with the problematic symbolism.

Several German police forces published tweets about the so-called „thin blue line“ over Christmas or referred to it in a positive way. The police in Kiel made the start after an action on Christmas Eve. All windows of the middle floor of the three-storey police station near the main railway station were illuminated in dark blue. A photo published on the internet names the night shift as the originator.

The Christmas greeting with the blue line appeared on the private website „Polizist=Mensch“ (translates to „Policeman=Human Being“). After being asked about it on Twitter, the Schleswig-Holstein State Police backed the action. The night shift had wanted to make clear that the police were also available „around the clock for everyone“ during the Christmas holidays. „„Thin blue line“: German police trainer warns against radicalisation“ weiterlesen

Germany: Bavaria upgrades police aerial surveillance

The Bavarian government is stepping up police video surveillance. In addition to aerial observation and mobile camera vans, the interior minister announces research into facial, behavioural and pattern recognition.

As probably the first German authority with security tasks, the Bavarian police creates a balloon for video surveillance. Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) showed the device at a press conference yesterday. It is launched from a trailer and attached to a 300-metre long line. The police calls it a „tethered helium balloon with video technology“.

The presentation took place on the occasion of the establishment of a new „Coordination Office Video“ (KOST), which Herrmann also presented to the public for the first time yesterday. The KOST is located at the Munich Airport Police Station and is to bundle the „Bavaria-wide competences in the areas of deployment, law and technology“ and support all police headquarters accordingly. In this way, it „makes a significant contribution to Bavaria being by far the safest federal state“. „Germany: Bavaria upgrades police aerial surveillance“ weiterlesen

Germany: The state hacks along

With the temporary exception of the Federal Police, all German police agencies and secret services are now allowed to hack into computers and telephones. This is an extremely deep invasion of privacy

On 10 June, the Bundestag massively expanded the use of state trojan horse programmes. A bill on the „adaptation of the law on the protection of the constitution“ was put to the vote, which the MPs adopted with 355 votes of the ruling coalition factions CDU/CSU and SPD. According to the bill, the domestic intelligence service will now also be allowed to penetrate foreign computer systems with the help of spy software. The parliamentary groups DIE LINKE, FDP, Bündnis90/Die Grünen and AfD voted against; the SPD voted five against and three abstained.

The bill „to modernise the legal basis of the Federal Police“ was also passed by the CDU/CSU and SPD against the votes of the opposition. This would have allowed the Federal Police to infiltrate computers and mobile phones, just like the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, without the persons concerned having to have committed a crime. A week ago, the upper house (Bundesrat) overturned this new law for various reasons, so the next federal government will have to deal with it again. The renewed Constitutional Protection Act, on the other hand, remains valid. „Germany: The state hacks along“ weiterlesen

Spotlight on: State Trojans

In Greek mythology, the horse outside the city of Troy was a wooden gift in whose hull some of the hostile Achaeans had hidden. Unsuspecting inhabitants, certain of victory over the invaders, pulled it in, the Achaeans climbed out at night and opened the gates for trailing troops, who then captured and destroyed Troy.

Today’s so called state trojan does not disguise itself as a gift and is active even when the enemy is awake. Nevertheless, the reference to the myth fits, because the wooden horses used by criminal investigation agencies may be installed „by means of criminalistic cunning“. First, the investigators find out how the software can best be installed: As a clandestine installation via websites that appear unsuspecting, in downloaded files or an attachment sent by e-mail. It is also possible to introduce the tool by breaking into the device, for example during a secret search of a flat or a police check. „Spotlight on: State Trojans“ weiterlesen

Germany: Trojans for all

The German Bundestag passed new wiretapping laws for secret services and the Federal Police

In future, German secret services will be able to remotely access private computers or telephones with spy software. They will be allowed to intercept not only ongoing but also „inactive“ communications, i.e. to read out data stored on the devices. This was decided in the Bundestag today with the votes of the ruling coalition of Conservatives (CDU/ CSU) and Socialdemocrats (SPD). The vote was on a „Law on the Adaptation of Legislation on the Protection of the Constitution“, which is intended to facilitate the „reconnaissance of serious threats to our democratic constitutional state“. „Germany: Trojans for all“ weiterlesen

Facial recognition: Number of persons identified in Germany doubles annually

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

Taser at the German Federal Police: Shooting from the back

In a year’s time, the German Ministry of the Interior could decide on the nationwide equipment of the Federal Police with electroshock weapons. Until then, the officers may in a pilot project shoot at children as well.

At the beginning of September, the Federal Police Inspectorates Berlin-Ostbahnhof, Kaiserslautern and Frankfurt/Main-Hauptbahnhof started a pilot project on the use of tasers. But the officers are to avoid shots at heart patients. This is stated in an administrative regulation of 7 August, which the Federal Ministry of the Interior has only just published in the governmental „Ministerialblatt“ for the „Taser X2“ model of the US manufacturer Axon. The document can only be obtained for a fee; the FOIA platform „Frag den Staat“ has put it online.

With tasers, the officers shoot tiny arrows connected to a wire, which penetrate the skin by about one centimetre and emit a current pulse of 50,000 volts for several seconds. Those affected feel a very strong pain and are initially completely paralysed. „Taser at the German Federal Police: Shooting from the back“ weiterlesen