Tracking corona infections: German Luca app in a downfall

Five Länder no longer renew their contracts with culture4life, the company’s new business model could also run into turbulence

So far, 13 German federal states have used the Luca app to warn of Corona infections, but at least five governments want to do without it in the future. Most recently, Berlin announced that it would no longer extend its contract with the manufacturer culture4life GmbH. Previously, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bremen dropped out. According to Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, Brandenburg is also planning to end its use.

The Luca app is used in restaurants, cafés, shops, but also public institutions. Hosts and organisers can create a QR code that visitors can then scan with the app and leave their personal data. Conversely, it is possible for the host to read a QR code stored on the mobile phone at the entrance control. The service also works without an app via an internet browser. „Tracking corona infections: German Luca app in a downfall“ weiterlesen

Berlin-Kreuzberg: Social Democrats want to set up police station in left-wing scene district

Against the opposition of their own party, the Berlin SPD interior senate wants to station police permanently at Berlin’s „Kotti“. However, the senate fears a „partly anti-police scene“. Therefore, the new building will be protected by permanent patrols and more video surveillance.

The interior senate led by the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Berlin wants to set up a new police station at Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg that will operate 24/7. It is to „significantly increase the presence and visibility of the police in the left-wing scene district“, explained Interior Senator Iris Spranger on Monday after a closed meeting of the Berlin Senate. This would also strengthen a „sense of security“. The entire square has been considered a „crime-ridden area“ (kbO) since 1996. Police are allowed to check identity papers and search people and things there without suspicion of a crime.

The „Kotti“ is a large street intersection with an underground transfer station in the middle of the former postal delivery area „36“. All around, restaurants and shops have settled, the blocks of houses built in the 1970s by „Deutsche Wohnen AG“ were only recently bought up by the state-owned Gewobag Wohnungsbau-Aktiengesellschaft after successful struggles by the „I love Kotti“ campaign. With about 70 per cent, the Kotti has the highest percentage of people with a migration history in Berlin. „Berlin-Kreuzberg: Social Democrats want to set up police station in left-wing scene district“ weiterlesen

European Cyber Exercise: Digital Attacks from „Blue Land“

For five weeks, EU member states will simulate attacks on their critical infrastructures. For the first time, the threshold of an armed attack will be surpassed. The rehearsal includes the provision of assistance in accordance with EU treaties, and the NATO case of alliance could also be triggered.

In the summer of 2017, Saudi Arabia almost suffered its first major disaster after a cyber attack. Unknown persons had infected the control system of a petrochemical plant with malware called „Triton“. The apparently planned shutdown of the plant might have caused explosions, possibly leading to the escape of hydrogen sulphide and thus to an environmental disaster with hundreds of deaths. A security system detected the intruder and stopped the sabotage.

Now the EU member states want to prepare for such a hacking attack with a „EU Cyber Crisis Linking Exercise on Solidarity“ (EU CyCLES). The starting point is assumed to be attacks with „significant kinetic effects and casualties“. The EU then activates its technical, operational and political cybersecurity structures. Other member states also provide mutual assistance. „European Cyber Exercise: Digital Attacks from „Blue Land““ weiterlesen

Space-Eye: Satellite surveillance from underneath

High-resolution images from earth observation could help with non-governmental sea rescues in the Mediterranean. However, these have to be purchased from commercial providers, because openly accessible images from EU satellites are of low quality. An initiative now wants to enrich this data with other sources and evaluate it with algorithms.

The EU border agency Frontex uses satellites to stop unwanted migration to Europe. As part of the EUROSUR surveillance system, Frontex has set up various services to automatically detect ships and boats carrying refugees with the help of aircraft, drones and also satellites. Frontex then informs the relevant coast guards of the sighting; North African authorities then return the boat occupants to countries such as Libya or Tunisia. The satellite data comes from the Sentinels of the EU’s „Copernicus“ earth observation programme; Frontex also buys higher-resolution images from private providers. In addition to Frontex, the EU’s maritime safety agency EMSA also maintains a satellite-based monitoring system, „CleanSeaNet“.

The German association Space-Eye is now also experimenting with the use of satellite data. The information is intended to help rescue organisations take on board people in distress at sea and bring them to a safe harbour. The association’s satellite working group consists of a dozen scientists and students. For the interview, i spoke with development engineer Elli Wittmann, Steffen Merseburg and Jonathan. „Space-Eye: Satellite surveillance from underneath“ weiterlesen

More German state police forces introduce tasers for patrol police

Four out of 16 federal states are now introducing electric pulse weapons across the board. The right-wing conservative police union DPolG has declared itself to be the mastermind and is sponsored by a manufacturer. Whether the officers will use less violence with the new weapons, as claimed, is questionable. Every year there are two deaths in Germany after being tasered

Shortly after the end of a pilot project in five large cities, the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia approved another 4.5 million Euros for the procurement of 620 Tasers. The weapons, in Germany known to the police as „distance electric pulse devices“, are now to be used in twelve more cities, including Aachen, Bochum, Gütersloh, Münster and Wuppertal, as well as parts of the Sauerland region. Currently, there are 766 Tasers in use by the police of Germany’s largest state, according to two Paderborn MPs. Altogether, the stock will thus be expanded to more than 1,360 devices; the total cost of the procurement is 8.5 million euros. This also includes training.

Only recently, the German Press Agency (dpa) had presented figures after a survey. According to this, the police in North Rhine-Westphalia drew the taser almost 160 times in their pilot test until the end of September 2021. This involved 123 threats and 31 actual firings. Two times, the devices were used in contact mode, where the electric shock is delivered directly to the target’s body without the usual wires. „More German state police forces introduce tasers for patrol police“ 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

New CILIP website collects fatal police shootings

A striking number of people are killed by police in their own homes, and in many cases the victims were in a psychologically exceptional situation. A new website prepares information on police shootings from 1976 in a novel form.

Written with the software developer, data scientist and data analyst Johannes Filter

The greatest risk of being fatally shot by police in Germany has been in the federal states of Hamburg and Hesse since 1976. Overall, Berlin is the deadliest city with 28 victims (10 of them in West Berlin). Most frequently affected are 25-year-old men, the most dangerous month is December. There is also an accumulation on individual weekdays, with Thursdays and the sixth day of the month predominating. Fewer people die from police firearms use at weekends, where the involvement of special units in fatal operations is also significantly lower.

The conclusions are drawn from annual statistics of the magazine CILIP, which we are now re-sorting and visualising. Since 1976, CILIP has been counting fatal police shootings and comparing them with other information. On behalf of the Standing Conference of the Ministers and Senators of the Interior of the Länder (IMK), the German Police College (DHPol) compiles annual statistics on the use of firearms, which are completed in the spring or summer of the following year at the latest and published on request. „New CILIP website collects fatal police shootings“ weiterlesen

Unrestrained killer robots in Geneva

A UN convention on lethal autonomous weapons systems is not in sight

For more than seven years, several dozen states have been discussing a possible ban on autonomous killer robots at the United Nations (UN). So far, the talks have not led to any concrete negotiations; above all, the major military powers – the USA, China, Israel and Russia – are putting on the brakes. It is also unclear how a joint treaty within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) could be structured.

Lethal autonomous weapons are systems that pursue a target and – with the help of artificial intelligence, for example – decide on the best time to attack. They can be drones in the air, on land or at sea. Such systems can also identify the people to be killed on the basis of their appearance, stature or biometric data. „Unrestrained killer robots in Geneva“ weiterlesen

Under Spanish leadership: EU military develops novel police drone

Several defence ministries are participating in a project on „dual-use“ reconnaissance drones. Only the Spanish army reveals that they can also be armed for military use.

EU member states want to develop drones with „autonomous behaviours“ that can be used for civilian and military purposes. These „dual-use“ aircraft are to weigh around 150 kilograms and do not require a runway. Accordingly, they could also be flown by law enforcement and disaster control agencies as well as civilian rescue organisations for aerial observation. The military wants to use them with the army, the air force and the navy.

The project is called „Next Generation Small RPAS“ (NGSR) and is part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation agreed by the European Council in December 2017. With the exception of Denmark and Malta, all EU Member States participate in what is also known as PESCO. The initiative aims to improve military cooperation between member states. To this end, the governments commit to increasing their defence spending and investing more money in joint research and development projects. „Under Spanish leadership: EU military develops novel police drone“ weiterlesen

Crossings to the UK: EU police to install hidden cameras on French and Belgian beaches

With several police actions, the riparians of the English Channel want to prevent unwanted crossings of migrants. German authorities plan internet campaigns against the sale of inflatable boats and engines. After Brexit, the UK is taking part in these measures funded by the Council of the EU.

Up to 27,000 people may have crossed the English Channel into Britain without passport checks this year alone, tripling their numbers from last year. Crossings in rubber dinghies sometimes take place several times a day and usually very early in the morning, with popular departure points being the French coasts of Bray-Dunes and Dunkirk on the Belgian border.

Britain and France had already concluded several agreements on joint migration control. The government in London recently paid 63 million Euros for the expansion of French patrols, the further doubling of police forces deployed there, comprehensive surveillance technology also in the air as well as floating barriers at port facilities and estuaries. In light of the accident with 27 deaths this Wednesday, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is demanding even more efforts from French President Emmanuel Macron.

„Crossings to the UK: EU police to install hidden cameras on French and Belgian beaches“ weiterlesen