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
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 Belgium and Great Britain, the 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
British authorities retain access to the EU-wide exchange of PNR data and are allowed to query biometric records in EU member states. Additional agreements regulate close cooperation with Europol and the rapid extradition of wanted persons. However, the UK must leave Europe’s largest manhunt database.
Even after Brexit, Britain retains an important place in the European Union’s security architecture. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement presented by the EU Commission and the British government at Christmas reaffirms the „need for strong cooperation between national police and judicial authorities“.
Among the „areas of mutual interest“ are law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters. To combat and prosecute cross-border crime and terrorism, British authorities may continue to participate in important EU information systems and also cooperate with agencies. Each of the new forms of cooperation is subject to the obligation to respect the European Convention on Human Rights. There is no way to involve the European Court of Justice for legal action concerning any of the measures foreseen in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. „Brexit agreement: Close EU police cooperation with the UK continues“ weiterlesen
Although this violates EU treaties, the police agency Europol is to cooperate closely with secret services. This involves lists of suspicious persons originating from third countries. The individuals listed there will then be discreetly searched for throughout Europe.
In fact, the European Union has no competence to coordinate the secret services of the Member States. In the case of Germany, this would also violate the principle of separating the tasks of police and services. Nevertheless, the German EU Presidency is now for the first time pushing for operational cooperation coordinated by Europol.
The German proposal for a „coordinated approach“ deals with covert searches for persons under Article 36 of the SIS II Council Decision, which are based on lists of secret services such as the USA, but also from North Africa or the Western Balkans. They are to be entered into the Schengen Information System (SIS II), to which third countries do not have access. Only the 26 EU Member States involved, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland may issue such alerts. „German proposal: Prohibited EU secret service cooperation through the back door“ weiterlesen
The combination of different techniques will provide police authorities with a powerful surveillance tool. Persons can then be located in intercepted telephone conversations. The technology uses extensive metadata that people leave behind in public places or the Internet.
In „Roxanne“, the European Commission is developing a procedure to trace individuals by their spoken word. The platform is designed to process large amounts of data and combines audio files with other metadata. To analyse networks of suspicious persons, the platform uses facial recognition, for example, to process video from public surveillance or downloaded from providers such as YouTube and Facebook.
In the project, the Commission aims to improve police investigative capabilities, in particular in major criminal cases. The „Roxanne“ consortium includes 24 European organisations from 16 countries, half of which are law enforcement agencies and interior ministries. Israel is the only third country by sending experts from the Ministry of Public Security to the EU project. Other participants include Interpol and the arms company Airbus. „EU develops wiretap platform using face recognition and geodata“ weiterlesen
The international police organisation wants to turn a „data tsunami“ into „actionable intelligence“. The 12-year-old wording shows how outdated Interpol’s databases are. The modernization is led by the former German BKA vice-president. The German Ministry of the Interior is financing a considerable part of the new IT architecture.
In a „Policing Capability Enhancement Programme“ (I-CORE), Interpol intends to completely renew its information technology and improve the networking of existing data. The programme was unanimously approved by the 194 member states at the Interpol General Assembly in October 2019 in Santiago de Chile.
„I-CORE“ is to be implemented in several stages by 2030 and will cost the equivalent of around 80 million euros. Now the international police organisation based in Lyon is looking for sponsors for individual projects. Interpol has a very tight budget, which is financed by its members and has no room for modernizations like „I-CORE“. „Ten-year project: Interpol renews its information systems“ weiterlesen
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
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
The International Police Organisation is developing a system to identify unknown persons by facial images. Interpol stores photos and videos from Internet service providers and other companies in a separate database. Interpol has also been using Clearview services for face recognition.
The US company Clearview AI has collected around three billion personal images from the Internet and used them to create a facial recognition database. This was reported in the New York Times six weeks ago. Most of the pictures were taken from social media profile photos, and it is likely that Clearview will also store the corresponding user data. Clearview offers companies and government agencies the option of identifying individuals by querying the database. According to reports, the facial images can also be searched with a photo app, which according to the New York Times is distributed among „rich people“.
The U.S. magazine Buzzfeed has obtained a client list from Clearview. It contains over 2,200 companies, governments and police authorities, including Interpol. The worldwide police organization has conducted more than 320 searches. „Clearview AI: What does Interpol use face recognition for?“ weiterlesen
Following the example of the US Department of Defense, Europol should coordinate European security research. In October, the EU interior ministers had decided on an „Innovation Laboratory“ at the Police Agency. Due to potential confusion, the department will now be renamed.
Since 1984, the European Union has organised its civil security research in multi-annual framework programmes, the current programme is called „Horizon 2020“. Arms companies are involved in many of these projects; they are conducting research with institutes and authorities on drone tanks for border control, stopping „non-cooperative vehicles“ with electromagnetic pulses or observing cities and borders by satellite. International agreements enable the involvement of third countries, for example Israel’s largest drone manufacturer has been involved in numerous projects for decades. „Europol steers arms companies for security research“ weiterlesen