Police in Hesse expand use of „Super Recognisers“

In Frankfurt, two full-time officers are now working for the humanoid facial recognition. Every day, they compare current wanted persons with existing pictures in police databases. The procedure is also supposed to work with concealed faces.

Since November 2020, the Hessian police have been testing the use of so-called „Super Recognisers“ for everyday investigations, manhunts, at events and political assemblies. These are people with the talent to memorise faces and recognise them in pictures or even in a crowd.

An estimated one to two percent of all people are said to have this ability, British scientist Josh Davis found out within the Metropolitan Police. In the course of his study for the University of Greenwich, he noticed that the same officers were always able to identify a particularly large number of suspects on video footage. Recognition is said to be possible even if the image of the person being searched is a photo that is several years old. „Police in Hesse expand use of „Super Recognisers““ weiterlesen

Controversial term: German Ministry of the Interior sneaks „Gefährder“ into the EU

In order for state protection departments to be able to cooperate better at EU level in the area of politically motivated crime, they need common definitions of the persons to be prosecuted. A corresponding initiative to this end comes from Germany. This way, threats are prosecuted that have not even occurred yet.

Under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, neither the Commission nor the Council has powers to coordinate intelligence services. Nevertheless, for the past five years the police agency Europol has been „exploring“ ever closer cooperation with the European „Counter Terrorism Group“ (CTG), in which the domestic services of all Schengen states work together. The EU’s „Intelligence Analysis Centre“ INTCEN in Brussels, which should actually only read secret service reports from the member states, is also being given further powers.

In order to be able to observe and, if necessary, prosecute target persons by police forces and intelligence services alike, a new category must be created. For the police traditionally deal with suspects or accused of a crime, police laws in Germany also know the category of „Gefährder“ who are accused of a concrete, perceivable danger. Intelligence work, on the other hand, is based on the mere suspicion that someone might pose a danger in the future. „Controversial term: German Ministry of the Interior sneaks „Gefährder“ into the EU“ weiterlesen

Can police databases kill?

It is hardly possible for asylum seekers to correct wrong entries in German information systems. In North Rhine-Westphalia, these false entries led to the death of Amad Ahmad. In Hesse, too, this digital police arbitrariness is now becoming evident.

On 29 September 2018, Amad Ahmad, originally from Syria, died of his burn injuries in the Sankt Antonius Hospital in Kleve. Twelve days earlier, the 26-year-old had been found in his burning cell in the prison in the district town. He or someone else had piled up the mattress, bedding and sheets and set them on fire. Because there are no smoke detectors in the cells of the prison in North Rhine-Westphalia, Ahmad could only be rescued after long minutes and therefore only with severe burns.

The case has been investigated by a sub-committee of the Düsseldorf state parliament for almost two years. It is not only the circumstances of Ahmad’s death that are to be clarified. In fact, the Syrian was suicidal. However, the fact that he really wanted to die does not fit with the fact that he triggered the emergency call via the intercom and apparently opened the windows. „Can police databases kill?“ weiterlesen

European police networking in the twilight

The Police Working Group on Terrorism (PWGT) consists of the political departments of police authorities in all Schengen states. The informal group was established in 1979 as a response to left-wing armed movements. After their disappearance, the purpose of the PWGT was expanded to include „political violent activities“.

Together with police authorities from the Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) started the European „Informal Terrorism Working Group“ in 1979. The founding date was 25 and 26 April, prompted by attacks by armed left-wing groups in various European countries. One month earlier, the British ambassador Richard Sykes was killed in The Hague. The Irish IRA claimed responsibility, initially, however, the police also considered the involvement of Palestinian groups or the German RAF possible.

Before Margaret Thatcher was elected British Prime Minister in May 1979, the Irish National Liberation Army killed her future Northern Ireland Minister with a car bomb. In Germany at that time, IRA commandos carried out attacks on British soldiers, in Belgium the RAF tried to blow up the NATO supreme commander in Europe. This was reason enough for the BKA’s „Terrorism“ department, like the left-wing movements, to do better in international networking. „European police networking in the twilight“ weiterlesen

Police in Austria use facial recognition for demonstrations

The comparison of police photographs in Austria and Germany was provided by the Cognitech company from Dresden. In both countries the technology was used in investigations after political assemblies. In future, the EU wants to make facial image searches possible in all member states.

The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Austria also uses its new facial recognition software for investigations into political assemblies. This was reported by „Der Standard“ with reference to unspecified documents. According to the magazine, the police use the application to analyse photographs of demonstrations that took place in the Favoriten district of Vienna in summer. At that time, Turkish right-wing extremists had attacked and injured first feminist and then Kurdish and anti-fascist activists. In the course of the several days of fighting, a leftist center was also attacked. „Police in Austria use facial recognition for demonstrations“ weiterlesen

Defence against drones: 420 million Euro for German airports

The German Federal Police wants to equip 14 airports against unwanted drones. The government estimates the costs for each system at 30 million euros. A prototype is currently being tested in Hamburg by an armaments company and the Bundeswehr.

The German government is planning the nationwide introduction of a permanently installed drone defence. This was written by the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology, in response to a written question. A total of 14 German commercial airports are to be equipped with such a system. The costs were recently outlined by the government in its answer to a minor interpellation. These would be „currently valued at €30 million per airport“. In total, the technology might then cost around €420 million. „Defence against drones: 420 million Euro for German airports“ weiterlesen

Germany: Many „silent SMS“ at federal and state level

Inquiries in parliaments and under the Freedom of Information Act show the amount of secret text messages to find out the whereabouts of telephones and their owners. Police use the method in real time for arrests, while secret services create longer-term movement profiles with it.

„Silent SMS“ are text messages whose reception is not indicated by the mobile phone. However, they generate a communication process that is logged by the telephone providers. With a court order, security authorities query this data record. Police and secret services are interested in the radio cells in which the phones are located. In this way, they obtain the location and a movement profile of the persons concerned.

For some years now, biannual inquiries to the German government have documented that the figures for „silent SMS“ at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Federal Police are at a similar level. The highest value for both authorities together was in the first half of 2016 at around 138,000, the lowest in the first half of 2019 at around 26,000. Subsequently, the figures have more than doubled again, the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced last week. „Germany: Many „silent SMS“ at federal and state level“ weiterlesen

New tanks for the German police

The German riot police replace their armoured „Special Wagons“ with a new model. A tender for 55 cars, which cost around 1.1 million euros each, will end in the summer

Since 1984, federal and state police forces have been using the armoured „Special Wagon 4“ („SW4“), which is mostly painted in dark or poisonous green and is mainly used in large-scale police operations. It is based on the chassis of the well-known „Unimog“ from Mercedes and was built by the former Thyssen group. The „SW4“ are usually found together with water cannons, two vehicles are assigned to each water cannon squadron. They are equipped with clearing blades for this purpose.

The governing coalition now wants to modernize the fleet and replace it with a „Special Wagon 5“. Details have recently been provided by the federal government in answers to parliamentary questions. Currently, it is planned to purchase 45 „SW5“ for the state riot police forces and 10 for the federal one. Like their predecessors, most of them will be assigned to the „water cannon special car units“. The old armoured vehicles will afterwards be scrapped. „New tanks for the German police“ weiterlesen

Face recognition after G20: Police in Hamburg laughs at Data Protection Commissioner

Despite an instruction by the Data Protection Commissioner, the police of the Hanseatic city does not want to do without its new face recognition system. In four weeks, the Administrative Court will rule about the dissolution of a specially created database. Without waiting for the verdict, the state government withdraws the sharpest sword from the top data protector.

Even after the deletion order by Johannes Caspar, the Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, the police in Hamburg continue to use a face recognition system. This was written by the red-green senate in response to an inquiry by the left-wing faction in the Hamburg parliament. Since 18 December 2018, a further 92 searches have been carried out in image and video files. This brings the total number of searches for suspects to 782. „Face recognition after G20: Police in Hamburg laughs at Data Protection Commissioner“ weiterlesen

Interpol and Europol extend facial recognition

The two police organisations are using new capabilities to search biometric images. Investigators can mark persons or things and match them with other files. At the G20 summit, the Hamburg state data protection commissioner criticised this procedure.

In the „INTERPOL 2020“ project, the international police organisation is expanding its facial recognition capabilities. After a test run, the Interpol General Secretariat in Lyon/France set up a new biometric database two years ago. According to information from the German Ministry of the Interior last October, the database contains more than 120,000 data records with photographs. The file can be searched with the „MorphoFace Investigate“ software, which has been used by Interpol for years to investigate child pornography. „Interpol and Europol extend facial recognition“ weiterlesen