EU researches drone swarms for maritime surveillance

With the support of the EU, arms companies want to try out how 20 different drones can be networked in the air and at sea. Tests will take place in the Mediterranean Sea and the Baltic Sea. In two years „Ocean2020“ should deliver first results.

The European Union is funding a research project on the integration of drones and unmanned submarines into fleet units. According to the EU Commission, the „Ocean2020“ project will be used for „maritime surveillance and interdiction missions at sea“ and other military purposes. The information gathered on the swarms of drones provided the „commanders“ with a „comprehensive picture“ of developing situations, together with findings from other systems. The military project „Ocean2020“ is financed by the European Defence Fund, for which the EU Commission has approved 35 million euros. First results should be available in 2020. „EU researches drone swarms for maritime surveillance“ weiterlesen

The contested Mediterranean

Private rescue organizations are put on the chain. In the middle of the standoff about the ship „Aquarius“ Frontex starts the surveillance with drones and wants to give the coordinates of refugee boats to Libya.

The Libyan coastguard becomes the doorkeeper of the European Union. The body will receive intelligence data from Frontex to stop boats with refugees in coastal waters if possible. The information could come from long-range drones with which the Border Agency has been monitoring the Mediterranean since Thursday. Initially, this is a pilot project for the use of two military drones from Italy and Israel; regular operations could start from 2019. At least this is what it says in an earlier draft of the work programme for EU satellite surveillance. „The contested Mediterranean“ weiterlesen

Belgium wants passenger data of bus and train travellers from Great Britain

The EU directive on the use of passenger data requires airlines and other travel providers to provide personal data to the competent authorities before each trip. Belgium is the first EU Member State to apply this to land-based means of transport.

The Belgian government has decided to extend its passenger data system to coach and rail travel. This is what the International Railway Journal writes. It is therefore initially a test phase. According to an agreement with the British government, Belgian authorities receive the data of passengers using the Eurostar long-distance train, which runs between Brussels and London in the tunnel under the English Channel, before each arrival. Flixbus is the first bus company to take part in the exchange of passenger data. It is unclear whether the travel agencies in which the bus and train journeys are booked are also obliged to transmit the data. „Belgium wants passenger data of bus and train travellers from Great Britain“ weiterlesen

More tanks for German police

After the special forces, riot police forces of the Länder and the Federal Police now also receive modern armoured vehicles. Defence companies compete with models weighing up to 15 tons.

Several dozen police stations in Germany will be equipped with new wheeled tanks. The riot police of the federal states receive 45 modern vehicles for the first time, the Federal Police increases its stock by ten. According to the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, these are „protected“ off-road vehicles and passenger transport vehicles. Parliamentary State Secretary Stefan Mayer calls them „Sonderwagen 5“ („Special Car“, SW 5), but the Federal Police no longer wants to use this term.

With this major order, the Ministry wants to replace the „Sonderwagen 4“ (SW 4), which has been used by the Federal Government and the Länder since 1984. Its manufacturer, the Kassel-based armaments group Thyssen Henschel, which has since been taken over by Rheinmetall, has long ceased production. The Federal Police use the old wheeled tanks only at airports, where they are partly armed with a machine gun. All other SW4s were sold to the Bundeswehr and Macedonia. „More tanks for German police“ weiterlesen

EU police show little interest in processing passenger data

Once called for as an indispensable tool in the fight against terrorism, the implementation of the EU directive on the use of passenger data is slow.

The „Passenger Name Records“ (PNR) package adopted over two years ago should have been transposed into national law by all Member States by 25 May this year. However, a considerable number of governments have not yet reported this to the Commission. This was confirmed by EU Internal Affairs Commissioner Julian King at a hearing in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). Previously, the civil rights organisation Statewatch had also reported on this.

According to the Directive, airlines, travel agencies and other operators have to transmit extensive personal data of their customers to the competent authorities before each trip. They are stored there for five years. These approximately 60 individual data fields include information on the itinerary, passengers, stopovers, hotels booked or rental cars. All booking information is processed, including e-mail address, billing address, travel agent responsible, languages of minors on the flight, food preferences or a doctorate. „EU police show little interest in processing passenger data“ weiterlesen

Schengen searches to be extended

Persons listed in the Schengen Information System may, inter alia, be observed or searched by the police. The numbers of these Article 36 alerts are increasing rapidly and are now being explained for the first time in detail. A new category „inquiry check“ is planned in the new regulation for the police database.

At the end of 2017, the Schengen Information System (SIS II) listed 129,412 persons in accordance with Article 36 of the SIS II Council Decision, compared with 96,108 the year before. 96,108 the article allows, on the one hand, listings for a „discreet check“, which the police officers should proceed discreetly and of which the persons concerned should not know anything. On the other hand, there is also the possiblity for a „specific check“, during which the wanted person, his/her luggage or the vehicle in which he/she travels, are searched. „Schengen searches to be extended“ weiterlesen

European military drones to fly alongside civilian aircraft

Until now, army drones fly in segregated airspace, but soon they will also be allowed for civil airspace. For this purpose, military companies are developing automatic avoid systems. The „Eurodrone“ will be the first to implement this as standard; in Germany, the „Triton“ spy drone may be faster.

The European defence companies Airbus, Dassault and Leonardo want to develop the armed „Eurodrone“ to production readiness by 2025. The medium-altitude-long-endurance drone (MALE) should then be flown by the Bundeswehr and other armies of the EU. In Germany, military drones have so far been operating exclusively in specially reserved airspaces. That could change soon: The Eurodrone is to be fully integrated into the so-called controlled airspace. „European military drones to fly alongside civilian aircraft“ weiterlesen

German Criminal Police maintains arrest warrants despite Interpol warning about political persecution

After the detention of critical authors and journalists, Interpol came under criticism. All arrest warrants should be reviewed retroactively for possible political persecution. German authorities promised to check incoming warrants more strictly. Little has happened since then.

In police investigations, the border to political or religious persecution is sometimes blurred. This becomes particularly critical when international warrants come from non-democratic countries. In order not to transform the Interpol authority into an instrument of political persecution, it is therefore strictly forbidden „to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character“. However, this does not prevent some countries from issuing searches or, as in the case of Germany, from playing the game in some cases. „German Criminal Police maintains arrest warrants despite Interpol warning about political persecution“ weiterlesen

Despite territorial clause: Europol starts police cooperation with Israel

After years of negotiations, Europol and Israel agreed on closer police cooperation. A treaty on the exchange of personal data is to follow. According to an EU decision, such agreements do not apply in occupied territories.

The Israeli government concluded a working agreement with the EU police agency Europol on Tuesday. Israeli police chief Ronen Alsheich met the new Europol director Catherine De Bolle in The Hague for the signing ceremony. The Treaty provides for cooperation to combat cross-border crime. This includes cybercrime as well as fraud and terrorism. The 28 Member States can now also collaborate more closely with Israeli authorities. The participants exchange, for example, situation reports or trend analyses. Personal data are not covered by this agreement. „Despite territorial clause: Europol starts police cooperation with Israel“ weiterlesen

EU funds the sacking of rescue ships in the Mediterranean

The European Union has mandated Italy to set up several maritime control centres in Libya. The Coast Guard and Maritime Police will be linked to European surveillance systems, the authorities will communicate directly with Frontex. The project costs 46 million euros and starts in July. But the Libyan Coast Guard has since long been connected to Italian counterparts.

According to media reports, as of last week Libya has an official sea rescue zone. This SAR region has therefore been officially notified by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Libya had already submitted such an application last summer, but withdrew due to a lack of prospects of success. With the support of the Italian Coast Guard, the Libyan authorities launched a new attempt in December, which is now said to have been approved by the IMO.

In order to set up an SAR region, the competent authorities must, among other things, designate a maritime rescue coordination centre (MRCC). The notified SAR regions and MRCC’s are officially available on a Canadian website, but there is no entry for Libya. In fact, it is unclear how the government in Tripoli will meet the IMO requirements. „EU funds the sacking of rescue ships in the Mediterranean“ weiterlesen