German football fans speak out against repression

Umbrella organisation defends itself against surveillance and arbitrary police violence

Football fans are demanding less violence and surveillance from the police in Germany. At the annual general meeting of their umbrella organisation in Hanover, 22 local associations published a joint catalogue with five central demands against „permanent surveillance, restrictions on freedom, unlawful data collection, lack of action against police violence and the planned control of all digital communication“. The massive police presence at football matches in and around stadiums is criticised.

Often, fans are „treated worse than other citizens“ and are approached particularly harshly by the police. At matches abroad, there are also reprisals against the travelling fans, including the refusal to allow them to go to the toilet. „Water cannons, full-body checks and even drone surveillance are now part of the standard police repertoire – even at 3rd division football matches. This reveals a completely exaggerated general suspicion of all fans,“ says Linda Röttig, a member of the board of the umbrella organisation. This hostile image of „football fans“ must be systematically dismantled. „German football fans speak out against repression“ weiterlesen

New EU control system: Waiting times at German borders to triple

In six months‘ time, travellers from third countries will have their passports, fingerprints and facial images checked automatically. Because of the time-consuming procedure, the German Federal Police is hoping for the timely delivery of self-service machines and is considering a call for help to Frontex.

End of May 2023, the European Union will put a new biometric database into operation. All travellers to the EU will then have to provide four fingerprints and their facial image as part of the Entry/Exit System (EES) and have their passport automatically scanned. This will affect citizens of those countries that benefit from the visa-free regime for short stays in the Schengen area. It makes no difference what the reason for the journey is.

With the EES, the EU member states want to identify so-called „overstayers“. This refers to persons who overstay a maximum of 90 days and do not leave within the prescribed period. The new system also eliminates the manual stamping of travel documents. In the EES, registration is only done electronically. „New EU control system: Waiting times at German borders to triple“ weiterlesen

Military and secret services: EU gears up for cyber attacks

The German Armed Forces are leading an EU project to coordinate „hackbacks“. Information gathering will be taken over by „cyber intelligence services“.

The European Union is to strengthen its cyber defence capabilities, including the development of „active defence capabilities“. These are then to be deployed jointly in the event of a digital attack on a member state. This is according to a communication on the „EU Policy on Cyber Defence“ issued by EU Foreign Affairs and Security Commissioner Josep Borrell and the Commission on Wednesday. The justification given is the „deteriorating security environment“ following the Russian attack on Ukraine. The EU, its citizens and infrastructures need to be strengthened against a growing number of cyber attacks, the document says. Examples are attacks on energy networks, transport infrastructures and space assets. „Military and secret services: EU gears up for cyber attacks“ weiterlesen

Police agreement: Europol to exchange biometric data with Israel

Israeli authorities are to be allowed to process and interlink personal information from the EU using „automated procedures“. According to a draft, this would even be possible in the territories occupied after 1967, although the so-called territorial clause excludes this.

Five years ago, EU member states gave the Commission a mandate to start negotiations for a Europol agreement with Israel, after the Estonian Presidency had presented a draft to that effect at the end of 2017. Now the Commission appears to have finished negotiating. The British civil rights organisation Statewatch has posted the document online. The Council and Parliament are now expected to give the green light.

The planned cooperation with the EU police agency is explicitly about the exchange of personal data. All authorities responsible for fighting terrorism and organised crime in Israel would benefit from this. According to the draft, however, it would also cover „product piracy“, „racism and xenophobia“, „swindle“ and „migrant smuggling“. „Police agreement: Europol to exchange biometric data with Israel“ weiterlesen

German secret service law does not have to go into the shredder

The Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the domestic secret service violates the principle of separation. The legislature should therefore amend the law

The German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) is no longer allowed to pass on secretly collected data on individuals to police authorities as it pleases. This is stated in the written version of the judgement of 28 September, which was published today on the website of the Federal Constitutional Court (Ref. 1 BvR 2354/13).

According to the ruling, the practice violates the principle of separation between the secret services and the police, which is considered a German legal principle after the experiences with the Gestapo under National Socialism. „German secret service law does not have to go into the shredder“ weiterlesen

„Partial unavailability“: Largest EU police database repeatedly down

Since the Schengen Information System has been run by an EU agency, it has failed completely on at least 34 occasions. The latest incidents are only now being made public.

The Schengen Information System (SIS II), launched in 1995, is the largest European information system. As a police database, it forms the digital backbone of the Schengen Agreement, with which the European Union strengthens the surveillance of its external borders against unwanted migration and cross-border crime. It is queried by the participating authorities of the Schengen states during every police check, but also when applying for documents.

Since 2013, the Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA ), which was founded a year earlier, has been managing the SIS II central system. It has now become known that the database, which is physically located in Strasbourg, has been completely offline several times since then. This is what the EU Commission writes in the not yet officially available answer to a written question by MEP Cornelia Ernst. This led, accordingly, to a „degradation and partial unavailability of some of the functionalities of the system“. „„Partial unavailability“: Largest EU police database repeatedly down“ weiterlesen

Jammers: Even more drone defence for Ukraine

Russia and Ukraine are now fighting a drone war. The US, Germany and now NATO are supplying technology against it.

The Ukraine war has long since become a drone war. In no other military conflict have so many unmanned aerial vehicles of various sizes and capabilities been deployed. Commercial quadrocopters fly as well as small fixed-wing aircraft for reconnaissance. Russia and Ukraine also use drones for their attacks, which completely destroy themselves on impact like guided missiles. Only Ukraine, meanwhile, has larger combat drones in the form of Turkish TB2 drones.

With the unmanned armament, the need for drone defence equipment is also increasing. NATO also wants to support Ukraine in this regard. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this last week after a meeting of defence ministers in Brussels. They are to help neutralise the Shahed-136 drones. „Jammers: Even more drone defence for Ukraine“ weiterlesen

No registration address: German Federal Office fines Telegram

The messenger service popular on phones is to pay over €5 million in fines

Five years ago, the German Network Enforcement Act came into force. With it, the then coalition government of conservatives and social democrats wanted to combat hate crime, punishable false news and other criminalised content on social network platforms. Even then, it was disputed whether so-called instant messaging services were also covered. These include WhatsApp, which belongs to Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Group, and Telegram, a platform founded by the Russian entrepreneurs Pavel and Nikolai Durov and registered in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Both services allow passive information gathering in addition to communication between one or more partners. Groups or channels in which only certain people can post content contain up to 200,000 members in the case of Telegram.

Now, for the first time, the German Federal Office of Justice has imposed fines on Telegram for violations of the Network Enforcement Act. The company is said to have violated the obligation to maintain reporting channels that comply with the law. Neither Telegram users nor state authorities can therefore report incriminated content. „No registration address: German Federal Office fines Telegram“ weiterlesen

Loitering munition: Rheinmetall sells first kamikaze drones to NATO state

In the present wars, the military is increasingly using remote-controlled warheads. The German defence ministry calls such weapons „worrying“. But after similar plans a decade ago, the Bundeswehr is again considering to procure them.

For the first time, the arms manufacturer Rheinmetall has won an order for its loitering munition. According to a press release from last September, the unnamed customer is a special forces unit of a NATO state. Rheinmetall states the value of the order to be in the „single-digit million euro range“. Delivery is scheduled until 2023.

The NATO buyer, which according to speculation could be Hungary, has ordered the HERO-30. This is the smallest version of the HERO family of „loiter-capable munitions“, which can circle over their target for up to 30 minutes. It is launched from a tube using compressed air, unfolds its pivoting wings in flight and is powered by a silent electric motor. „Loitering munition: Rheinmetall sells first kamikaze drones to NATO state“ weiterlesen

Criticism over research: EU Commission funds platform to predict „migration flows“

In an Open Letter, eleven organisations criticise the creation of an infrastructure for predictive migration technologies. The tool, which is also supposed to anticipate „tensions“, is based on „artificial intelligence“. It could therefore contradict a forthcoming EU regulation.

To prevent or at least control unwanted migration, the European Union has various tools at its disposal to support its member states. Central to this is the border agency Frontex, which monitors the EU external borders with satellites, aircraft and drones. Frontex also conducts regular reconnaissance of the „pre-frontier area“ far from European shores. With 30 African states, the agency has started its own network for this purpose, which also processes intelligence information.

Now the EU Commission wants to go one step further. With the help of data from various sources, a so-called EUMigraTool is to predict and control „migration flows“ in Europe. The modelling and prediction is to be carried out using „deep learning“. In its first stage, theEUMigraTool is not intended to support the deterrence, but the reception, resettlement and relocation of refugees. Several civil society organisations and individuals nevertheless demand in an open letter that the project be stopped. „Criticism over research: EU Commission funds platform to predict „migration flows““ weiterlesen