Europol to become a global criminal information hub

With new regulations, the EU Police Agency will soon have access to many millions of alerts and searches, including fingerprints and facial images. The function is part of the „2020+ Strategy“. Connection to other information systems is already being planned.

Europol will be connected to the Schengen Information System (SIS II) from the end of this year. Access for the Hague-based police agency is governed by three new rules for the Schengen Information System. Europol has read-only access. As an official participant, however, the Agency can use all alerts contained therein for its own purposes.

SIS II is the largest and most widely used search database in the European Union. 26 EU Member States participate, as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The database currently contains more than 82 million entries. The majority are objects such as stolen or missing vehicles and identity documents. According to the European Agency for the Management of Large IT Systems (eu-LISA), which manages the SIS II, it was searched more than six billion times in 2018, compared to five billion the previous year. „Europol to become a global criminal information hub“ weiterlesen

German Airports: Face recognition now also for children

When crossing an EU external border, all travellers will soon have to provide biometric data. This leads to long waiting times and border controls are therefore becoming increasingly automated. This will first benefit people who have already stored facial images on the chip of their „ePass“.

The German Federal Police is extending the use of so-called „eGAtes“ to children. Since the beginning of the holiday season in Germany, the „EasyPASS“ technology used there has been activated nationwide for persons aged 12 and over. The partially automated border control system controls the crossing of an external border of the European Union. It can be used voluntarily by nationals of all EU member states and Switzerland. Those who do not wish to be scanned automatically may have to accept queues at the usual „manual“ control lanes.

All seven major German airports are equipped with „EasyPASS“. As of last month, 230 „eGates“ have been installed, and over 73 million travellers have already passed through the systems. „German Airports: Face recognition now also for children“ 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

„Crawling, monitoring and gathering“: EU funds search engine for criminal Internet content

European police authorities and arms companies are working on a „powerful terrorism intelligence platform“ on the Internet. It is intended to track down material to promote violence and radicalisation. The technology thus goes far beyond the threat of upload filters.

In the security research programme „TENSOR“, the European Union is developing automatic detection of criminal content on the Internet. The technology is to find material that can „contribute to the advancement of terrorist violence and radicalisation“ in an automated process. On the project website, this is referred to as „crawling, monitoring and gathering“. Described as a tool for „Internet penetration“, it should also operate in multilingual social media and use „dialogue-empowered bots“ with artificial intelligence. Found criminal content will then be categorized and interpreted so that it can be used by law enforcement agencies. The software would also be used in Darknet.

The project is the technical implementation of the demand for „early detection“ of terrorist organised activities, radicalisation and recruitment as called for by the European Union in the Council Conclusions and a Commission paper of 2017. It calls not only for the rapid removal of „illegal online content“, but also for its „proactive detection“. „„Crawling, monitoring and gathering“: EU funds search engine for criminal Internet content“ weiterlesen

Misuse of warrants: Interpol wants to clean up

Despite an explicit ban, many countries use Interpol arrest warrants to pursue their opposition. The police organisation therefore wants to examine tens of thousands of alerts issued between 2014 and 2016 more closely. The main focus is on possible asylum seekers.

Article 3 of Interpol’s statutes prohibits any „any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character“. The international warrants for arrest (the so-called „Red Notices“) must not undermine this policy. However, some states have used the Interpol arrest warrants to prosecute government opponents. A special „Notices and Diffusion Task Force“ to deal with this has recently started work. It now consists of seven members from Germany, Slovakia, Croatia, Sweden and Ukraine, according to a EU document now published by the British organisation Statewatch. „Misuse of warrants: Interpol wants to clean up“ weiterlesen

Interpol investigates war crimes in Syria and Iraq

Many „foreign fighters“ return to their home countries, 40 Germans and 130 French citizens alone are to be transferred from Kurdish prisons. The authorities are collecting „battlefield evidence“ to bring them to court.

Many „foreign fighters“ in Syria or Iraq are citizens of EU member states, and after the defeat of the „Islamic State“ they return in part to their home countries. A total of 500 fighters and 900 supporters as well as 1,200 children and adolescents from 44 countries are said to be in the custody of Kurdish militias, but the figures are not substantiated. Without giving a source, the German magazine „Spiegel“ writes of 800 jihadists in total.

At least a dozen (Kurdish reports talk about 40) „foreign fighters“  are said to be detained by Kurdish militias, perhaps 130 from France. The Kurdish autonomous government is urging that they return to their country of origin and be brought to justice. Also the U.S. Government demands to bring these people to court at home, the issue was discussed at the recent meeting of the Global Coalition against IS. „Interpol investigates war crimes in Syria and Iraq“ weiterlesen

German government wants to repair Interpol

Some Member States use the international police organisation to persecute their opposition. 80,000 arrest warrants are therefore being re-examined.

The Interpol police organisation may not use its international arrest warrants for political persecution. Article 3 of the Statutes therefore prohibits „any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character“. Nevertheless, the Interpol channel is used by the 194 member states for politically motivated searches. For this reason, the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), which is responsible for arrest warrants, examines the deployment of „suitable personnel“ in order to check all existing arrest warrants at Interpol for a possible violation of the Interpol statutes. The employees are to be recruited from the state justice administrations. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has already been sending a fully qualified lawyer to a corresponding control commission at Interpol since 1 January. „German government wants to repair Interpol“ 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

EU language biometrics projects: research for police and intelligence services

Voice samples can be analysed in order to identify unknown persons in tapped telephone conversations, audio chats and video files. If the technology were applied to internet nodes, then it would be of particular interest to intelligence services.

The Speaker Identification Integrated Project (SIIP) on the use of speech biometrics by the police, co-financed by the European Union (EU), has successfully passed its final test. This was announced by the international police organisation Interpol in a press release. SIIP’s objective is to identify and locate “criminals and terrorists” through the analysis of their voices.

A total of 19 authorities, companies and institutes are involved in SIIP, including the Italian Ministry of Defence, the University of Groningen and the companies Nuance and Airbus. The police organisation Interpol, of which 190 states are members, is the intended end-user of the project. Other interested parties include the Italian Carabinieri, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the Portuguese Criminal Police and the British Metropolitan Police. The project is scheduled to be terminated until April 2018. Following tests in the field, the participants are now in the process of drafting their final report. „EU language biometrics projects: research for police and intelligence services“ weiterlesen

Project SMILE: Interface for European telecommunications interception

The European Investigation Order in criminal matters allows judicial authorities in all EU Member States to instruct each other to collect evidence. It also sets forth provisions for cross-border telecommunications surveillance. The European standardisation institute ETSI is consequently working on interfaces for the hand-over of intercepted phone calls.

By May 22nd, the Member States of the European Union have to transpose the European Investigation Order in criminal matters (EIO) into national law. The Directive defines cross-border cooperation between judicial authorities including courts, investigating judges and public prosecutor’s offices. In the future, an “issuing State” can oblige an “executing State” to gather evidence in criminal proceedings. This entails inter alia conducting investigations.

It also sets forth provisions for the “temporary transfer of persons held in custody”, hearings by video or telephone conference or the use of the European arrest warrant to transfer people (including temporarily) to courts of another state. There is a dedicated chapter on telecommunications surveillance and the transfer of the “electronic evidence” gathered during such. „Project SMILE: Interface for European telecommunications interception“ weiterlesen