No Israeli drones fly for Frontex after crash

Several Member States use EU services for unmanned maritime surveillance of different sizes. Operations for Frontex were stopped since January.

The border agency Frontex will not use Israeli drones to monitor the external borders of the European Union until further notice. This is what the EU Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, writes in response to a written question by left-wing MEP Özlem Demirel. The background is the crash of a long-range drone of the Israeli armament company Elbit on January 8th of this year on Crete. The incident with the „Hermes 900“ occurred on the runway of Tympaki airport in Crete.

For the first time, the Commission is now giving details of the incident. According to the commission, it was a „hard landing“ after sensors of the drone had displayed „unexpected readings“. The aircraft then deviated from the runway, which, as Greek media reported, led to considerable damage. The Commission confirms that the fuselage, wings and sensors were damaged, but that „no casualties nor damage on the running way“ occurred. The „Hermes 900“ was apparently flown by pilots of the manufacturer Elbit. „No Israeli drones fly for Frontex after crash“ weiterlesen

Project Interoperability: EU to pay 300 million EUR for face and fingerprint recognition

The companies IDEMIA and Sopra Steria are setting up a biometric recognition system for the EU. For this purpose, fingerprints and facial images from five databases will be stored in a single file. Completion is planned in two years, but in an earlier large-scale IT project of the EU, one of the partners was seven years behind schedule.

The European Union has awarded a major contract for a new fingerprint and face recognition system. A consortium consisting of the two French companies IDEMIA and Sopra Steria is to set up and subsequently manage a Shared Biometric Matching System (sBMS).

The contract was awarded by the EU agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA). According to the invitation to tender, the framework contract costs around 300 million EUR. Its duration is four years with an option for an extension of up to six years. As the two contractors explain, „one of the largest biometric systems in the world“ will be created. In two years, the database will contain 400 million third-country nationals. „Project Interoperability: EU to pay 300 million EUR for face and fingerprint recognition“ weiterlesen

North and Baltic Sea: German authority orders EU drone surveillance

In several projects, the German Federal Police is testing drones in maritime environments. So far, the unmanned aircrafts have to fly in restricted areas, but soon they could be integrated into civil airspace. The Ministry of Transportation, which responsible for this, is now asking the European Union to provide drone flights.

The German Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) has requested drone flights from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). In coordination with the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), to which the BSH is accountable. The BMVI is now providing details in its response to a parliamentary question.

Accordingly, it is a three-month test phase which is intended to supplement the BSH’s ship exhaust gas measurement network. The authority will use it to examine the gas plumes of passing ships and calculate the fuel sulfur content, which in Germany may only contain 0.1 percent.The drones should also map tidal flats and shallow water areas. The ministry is not writing whether this is done for the construction of further offshore facilities. „North and Baltic Sea: German authority orders EU drone surveillance“ weiterlesen

Corona and the situation of refugees in Germany

Restrictions on movement and contact, border closures, travel bans – the Covid 19 pandemic also means considerable limitations on civil liberties and fundamental rights in Germany. Many measures, however, particularly affect refugees.

On 16 March the European Union closed its external borders. Although the application for asylum was supposed to be one of the exceptions to entry permits, de facto the official border crossings for asylum seekers remained largely insurmountable. The EU is also stepping up the surveillance at „green“ and „blue“ borders. The border agency Frontex has suspended some of its operations, for example in the Western Balkans, because of the Corona crisis. But on the other hand, Frontex has extended its missions in Greece, which has seen a high number of arrivals of refugees due to tensions with Turkey, by two „Rapid Border Interventions“ at the Evros border river and in the Aegean Sea. At the beginning of April, the governments involved also suspended the „Malta deal“ for sea rescue in the central Mediterranean. Rescued persons are no longer being redistributed to the states willing to receive them; this affects a total of 731 refugees, most of whom were supposed to come to Germany. Malta and Italy completely closed their ports to private rescue vessels a little later, only with much public pressure could 150 rescued persons from the German ship „Alan Kurdi“ disembark in Malta in mid-April, most of the others were brought back by the Libyan coast guard – even from waters for which Malta is responsible. „Corona and the situation of refugees in Germany“ weiterlesen

EU opens its biggest database for secret services from third countries

In the Schengen Information System, police and secret services may, inter alia, issue alerts for secret monitoring. Authorities from non-EU states can now have searches carried out via a detour. The German government remains silent about the exact role of its own secret service.

The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the largest European database, which has been used for 25 years by border, police, customs or immigration authorities and secret services. Today’s SIS II involves 26 EU Member States (all except Ireland and Cyprus) as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. As of 1 January 2020, more than 90 million people and objects were stored. Most of the entries, which increase every year, come from Italy, followed by France and Germany. The number of searches is also growing rapidly, with almost seven billion of them reported last year. That is about 220 searches per second.

Each Member State is responsible for the accuracy of its entries and must respect deadlines for deletion. Information that is stored in SIS II may also come from third countries, which is part of the normal practice of police forces and secret services. Last year, however, the European Union launched a pilot project to extend these entries to selected „trusted third countries“ and to find a uniform procedure for handling them. „EU opens its biggest database for secret services from third countries“ weiterlesen

Significantly more facial recognition at German police

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

SPECTRE Project: EU finances technology for undercover investigations

Police forces from 34 countries have been investigating criminal networks in South Eastern Europe since 2017, money comes from the Internal Security Fund of the European Union. In addition to all kinds of espionage and wiretapping technology, they also pay informers.

For undercover investigations, European police forces use miniaturized surveillance technology, but usually remain extremely secretive about how it works. Since 2017, spy cameras, pocket microphones, mini drones and other equipment have also been procured through an EU project. This is why the European Commission had to provide details of the small devices in response to a parliamentary question. „SPECTRE Project: EU finances technology for undercover investigations“ weiterlesen

A virus called control: The suspension of constitutional rights in Germany

Is the suspension of constitutional rights for the whole of society to counter the new corona virus justified? The freedom to assemble without registration or permission under Article 8 of the German Constitution has been replaced since 20 March by a complete ban with the reservation of permission. Health authorities now have the final say on demonstrations or rallies in accordance with the „SARS-CoV-2 containment regulations“.

For one month, most of the Federal States have prohibited protests in any form, including bicycle demonstrations and autocorsos. The public medical officers also did not care if registrants promised to respect distance rules and to wear face masks. Last week, the highest German court clarified on 15 April that this is not proportionate. „A virus called control: The suspension of constitutional rights in Germany“ weiterlesen

Chile: Spy like in Germany

German police officers are advising the police in Santiago on setting up a department for undercover investigations. Further support is provided to improve the public presentation of police measures

German criminal investigation offices are helping the police in Chile to set up a unit for undercover investigations. One of the partners providing expertise was the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) of Baden-Württemberg, which visited the Chilean authorities on site. This was confirmed by the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Stephan Mayer, in response to an inquiry by left-wing MP Ulla Jelpke. Security authorities had been „advised“ during the visit.

The LKA in Baden-Württemberg is one of those German authorities whose spies against left movements have been exposed in recent years. At the end of 2010, the undercover police officer Simon Bromma was discovered in Heidelberg, who was set upon anti-fascist groups under the alias „Simon Brenner“. The officer was also active in neighboring countries, the state government justified a trip to a No Border Camp in Brussels with „legend building“. Five years later, the Administrative Court in Karlsruhe declared the operation in Heidelberg illegal. „Chile: Spy like in Germany“ weiterlesen

Venezuela: Peter Krauth is released, now questions about Interpol warrants

Via Interpol, the German police are searching for Peter Krauth, Bernhard Heidbreder and Thomas Walter as members of a „terrorist group“. But all accusations are time-barred in Venezuela and partly also in Germany. The arrest warrants could therefore violate the Interpol statutes.

The German citizen Peter Krauth, who has been imprisoned in Venezuela since November, is free again. His release on Friday followed a ruling by the Supreme Court in Caracas, the website „Ende Aus“ reports. His extradition demanded by authorities in Germany is not possible because the accused offences are time-barred under Venezuelan law. Krauth was arrested at 16 November 2020 on an Interpol arrest warrant in Caracas.

The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is searching for Peter Krauth, Bernhard Heidbreder and Thomas Walter as members of the K.O.M.I.T.E.E.. As a „terrorist organization“ they are suspected of having carried out an arson attack on a Bundeswehr building in Bad Freienwalde in 1994 which left nobody hurt. One year later, the three allegedly tried to blow up a deportation prison under construction in Berlin-Grünau. A police patrol had become aware of preparations, and the building was eventually left unscathed. According to the BKA, „various pieces of evidence“ had been found in a vehicle left behind at the scene of the crime, which the police had assigned to the three. German authorities then published a manhunt. „Venezuela: Peter Krauth is released, now questions about Interpol warrants“ weiterlesen