Data Protection Commissioner’s audit: Germany’s largest police database contains many illicit records

After ten years, the German Federal Data Protection Commissioner has again inspected the INPOL-Z file at the Federal Criminal Police. There are still considerable problems there; even administrative offenses can lead to storage. In some cases, the auditor waived a formal complaint because the police wanted to delete the data immediately.

For all German federal and state police authorities, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden operates the central INPOL-Z information system. It consists of various files, including the Criminal File Index or Police Records (ED). Many millions of facial images and fingerprints of suspects and asylum seekers are stored there. This makes it the largest police database in the Federal Republic. Customs can also access it.

However, a lot of personal data is stored here illegally. The then Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI), Peter Schaar, had already pointed this out in 2011 after an audit visit to the BKA. Ten years later, his successor Ulrich Kelber has once again signed up for a „consultation and inspection visit“ in Wiesbaden to check whether the „recommendations“ made at the time have been implemented. „Data Protection Commissioner’s audit: Germany’s largest police database contains many illicit records“ weiterlesen

Facial recognition at German police authorities increased by more than a third

Millions of faces, fingerprints and palm prints are stored in German police databases. Law enforcement agencies are also processing more and more biometric data at the EU level.

The comparison of photographs by German police authorities has again increased sharply in the past year. This is shown by statistics based on information provided by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in a parliamentary interpellation. According to this, a total of 76,535 queries were made in the facial recognition system of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in 2020. The year before, there were still around 54,000 queries, so the increase is more than a third (2018: 41,000, 2017: 27,000). According to the statistics, most of the searches come from the criminal investigation offices, which is also where the greatest increase was recorded.

Since 2009, the BKA has made it possible for the state criminal investigation offices and the Federal Police to identify unknown persons with the help of the central police information system (INPOL-Z). In the database, the BKA stores photographs mainly from the identification service. The „Z“ stands for „central file“, which is kept by the BKA but filled by all police authorities. „Facial recognition at German police authorities increased by more than a third“ weiterlesen