Database on “European extremists”: How is the plan pursued since 2001 supposed to function?

After each major summit protest, there are calls for a European “troublemakers” database to be established. Centralised data storage at EU level or decentralised networking of national systems would be conceivable options. For a number of reasons, it has not been possible to set up a database of this kind since the turn of the millennium. The governing coalition in Germany has now announced a new initiative to this end following the G20 Summit in Hamburg.

Cooperation on summit events between European security authorities has been running like clockwork for more than 20 years. Police and intelligence services have exchanged information on threats and “individuals who pose a terrorist threat”, have assisted each another with personnel and equipment and seconded liaison officers. Shortly before such summits, the Schengen Agreement is partially suspended and border controls reintroduced while travel bans are imposed on undesirable protesters. Database on “European extremists”: How is the plan pursued since 2001 supposed to function? weiterlesen

Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases

Heiner Busch and Matthias Monroy. Translation by Viktoria Langer

The topic of counter-terrorism in Europe remains closely linked to the development and expansion of police (and secret service) databases. This was the case in the 1970s, after 11 September 2001 and has also been the case since 2014, when the EU Member States started working on their action plans against ‚foreign terrorist fighters‘.

The first effect of this debate has been a quantitative one: the amount of data in the relevant databases has increased explosively since 2015. This can be seen by looking in particular at available data on the Europol databases, like ‚Focal Points‘ (formerly: Analytical Work Files) of the Europol analysis system. Since 2015 they have become one of the central instruments of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) which was established in January 2016. Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases weiterlesen

About the implementation of the EU Directive on the use of passenger name record data

The PNR directive obliges air carriers to collect a whole host of data and pass it on to the border authorities in advance of all flights. This information includes registration data, seat and flight numbers, along with food preferences, credit card details or IP addresses. PNR passenger information units (PIUs) in the Member States then analyse the information to identify “suspects and anomalous travel patterns”.

On 27 April, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the Directive on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data. Information collected at the booking stage can now be used by police forces and intelligence services to “prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute” terrorist offences or serious crime. For flights from and to the EU, up to 60 individual pieces of data on passengers are collected and stored for five years. These include registration data, seat and flight numbers, along with food preferences, credit card details or IP addresses.

The collection of PNR data not only applies to airlines, but also to travel agencies, tour operators or other service providers who book flights. In the future, the plan is for European PNR data to also be exchanged with third countries or international organisations.   About the implementation of the EU Directive on the use of passenger name record data weiterlesen

German Bundeswehr to gain combat drones

For the interim period, an Israeli model is to be leased; over the next ten years, European arms companies are to develop a competitive “Euro-drone”

The German Bundeswehr has now selected a model of combat drone for future use. It plans to lease “three to five” of the latest “TP” version (Block 2) of the Heron family of drones, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries. The prime contractor for the leasing arrangement is the Airbus Group, which entered into a teaming agreement with the Israeli manufacturer on marketing in Europe.

The selection decision is initially a “bridging solution” for a ten-year period. The Federal Government is planning the development by 2025 of a “European solution” for drones which can be armed. After several attempts, the governments of Germany, France and Italy have agreed on a preliminary study for a long-range drone of this kind. The arms companies Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Alenia Aermacchi have been tasked with carrying out this “multilateral drone project”. Spain has since also joined the project. German Bundeswehr to gain combat drones weiterlesen

EU puts circumvention of encryption back on the agenda

The European Union is discussing access by law enforcement authorities to encrypted communications in a number of papers, working groups and new cooperation forums. The “crypto debate” begun around a year ago on ways to circumvent encryption or access protected communication has gained new momentum.

Most recently, the Luxembourg Council Presidency sent out a paper setting out the challenges posed by “Internet communication channels and multiple social media” to the Member States. The paper expresses the view that new “encryption based technologies” are increasingly hampering or rendering impossible effective investigations. According to this paper, these technologies are of particular significance not only in the area of “counter-terrorism policies”, but also of “anti-radicalisation measures”. EU puts circumvention of encryption back on the agenda weiterlesen

Using false documents against “Euro-anarchists”: the exchange of Anglo-German undercover police highlights controversial police operations

Examination of several recently exposed cases suggests that the main targets of police public order operations are anti‐globalisation networks, the climate change movement and animal rights activists.

The internationalisation of protest has brought with it an increasing number of controversial undercover cross‐border police operations. In spite of questions about the legality of the methods used in these operations, the EU is working towards simplifying the cross‐border exchange of undercover officers, with the relevant steps initiated under the German EU presidency in 2007.

In October 2010 [1], “Mark Stone,” a political activist with far‐reaching international contacts, was revealed to be British police officer Mark Kennedy [2] prompting widespread debate on the cross‐border exchange of undercover police officers. Activists had noted Kennedy’s suspicious behaviour during a court case and then came across his real passport at his home. Using false documents against “Euro-anarchists”: the exchange of Anglo-German undercover police highlights controversial police operations weiterlesen