Secret German drone defence

The Federal Police secures all German commercial airports against unwanted approaches by small copters. Mobile installations are followed by a stationary platform

Obstructions caused by small drones at German airports remain at the same level as in previous years. In 2021, 98 incidents were reported to Deutsche Flugsicherung. This is according to the Federal Ministry of the Interior in its answer to a parlamentarian question from the Left Party. In 2018, there were 158 incidents, which is the highest figure recorded to date.

Despite this, the government is making great efforts to defend commercial airports against drones. The public is not supposed to know which mobile systems are installed there. The reason given is that knowledge would allow „opponents“ to draw conclusions about the technical capabilities of the police authorities. „Secret German drone defence“ weiterlesen

„Thin Blue Line“: German police divided on extremist iconography

An internal paper of the Bavarian Police problematises a symbol which stands for a conspiratorial community of solidarity. According to the paper, it is widespread in right-wing police circles and could violate the principle of neutrality and lead to disciplinary consequences. Not all police officers see it that way.

Earlier this year I reported on the handling of the so-called „Thin Blue Line“ (TBL) within the German police. For many officers, the symbol of this thin blue line on a black background signifies the protection of society from crime, violence and chaos, which, according to this reading, only they could provide. Others want it to be understood as a sign of solidarity and recognition of injured and killed colleagues. What all the different interpretations have in common is that the police see themselves as a conspiratorial community of solidarity.

The article was prompted by renewed statements by police authorities, in this case from Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate, which referred positively to the blue and black symbolism over Christmas. The police in Mannheim subsequently deleted a corresponding tweet. „„Thin Blue Line“: German police divided on extremist iconography“ weiterlesen

Germany: Mobile phones as a tracking bug

With silent SMS, cell site analysis and IMSI catchers, authorities can pinpoint the location of a mobile device to within a few metres.

Last year, the German Federal Criminal Police sent about 68,000 silent SMS in 33 cases (one of which was a danger aversion case), which is a significant increase compared to preceding years. The Federal Police sent around 48,000 silent text messages in 56 criminal proceedings, which is roughly the average of past years. This is stated in the answer to a parliamentary question by the Left Party in the Bundestag. „Germany: Mobile phones as a tracking bug“ weiterlesen

EU Commission continues to upgrade surveillance in Libya – and worries about its reputation

The EU is using development aid funds to finance a deployable radar system for the Libyan coast guard. The force, known for its brutality, wants to use it to detect refugees crossing to Europe. Then they will be intercepted by three new patrol boats.

Since 2017, the European Union has been investing in increased surveillance of Libya’s maritime borders. As part of the project „Support to Integrated Border Management and Migration Management in Libya – SIBMMIL“, Italy was tasked with installing a Maritime Coordination Centre in the capital Tripoli and defining a sea rescue zone, where the Libyan Coast Guard has been responsible ever since.

The establishment of the centre was initially financed by the EU with €42 million from the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, and a further €15 million was approved for a second phase of the project. However, neither the EU Commission nor the EU Council could say where the facility is located. It is therefore unclear what the money was spent on and where the purchased equipment has remained. „EU Commission continues to upgrade surveillance in Libya – and worries about its reputation“ weiterlesen

Up to 90 more new tanks for police in Germany

The Federal Police and the riot police of the federal states are paying € 81 million for armoured vehicles from Rheinmetall. Some procured them already for their special forces

On 15 November 2021, the procurement office of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior) awarded the company Rheinmetall Landfahrzeuge GmbH the contract for 45 „Survivor R“ vehicles for the riot police of the federal states and for ten additional units for the federal police. With these vehicles, the ministry intends to cover „potential terrorist threat scenarios with the danger of parallel situations“.

The armoured vehicles based on a truck chassis replace the four-wheeled „TM-170“, which the ministry procured 35 years ago as „Sonderwagen 4“ („Special Car 4“). The „Sonderwagen 5“ will be delivered from 2023; in a basic version it costs around €1.3 million, plus VAT.
„Up to 90 more new tanks for police in Germany“ weiterlesen

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

Germany and Great Britain: Confiscation of asylum seekers‘ mobile phones can be illegal

In many cases, European authorities confiscate the phones of refugees after they have crossed the border in order to check their identity or to identify those helping them to flee. The people concerned do not always get their devices back. This means additional stress in the asylum procedure.

The Home Office in London admitted on Thursday that the blanket confiscation of migrants‘ mobile phones is illegal. According to the British daily Independent, Home Secretary Priti Patel’s lawyer told this to the High Court. The judges are hearing a case brought by three asylum seekers from Iraq and Iran. They were arrested in 2020 after entering the country in small boats across the English Channel. In December, an appeals court ruled that this did not constitute illegal entry.

The authorities detained the devices for at least three months following an order and examined them forensically. According to the newspaper, in search of phone numbers, messages, pictures, videos, traffic data and GPS coordinates the entire memory of the devices was read out. The plaintiffs‘ lawyers believe that the practice could affect hundreds or thousands of mobile phones a year. This is contrary to data protection and the European Convention on Human Rights, the British Home Office has now confirmed. The practice of pressuring asylum seekers to hand over their PIN numbers was also unlawful, it said. „Germany and Great Britain: Confiscation of asylum seekers‘ mobile phones can be illegal“ 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

Restrictive in cyberspace

New German cybersecurity guidelines harbour even more surveillance and centralised powers

The Federal Cabinet today approved the new „Cybersecurity Strategy for Germany“. The draft, prepared by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, is to be in place for five years and replaces the previous version from 2016. The document describes four different guidelines. Cybersecurity is to be understood as a joint task of the state, business, science and society. Associations as well as citizens themselves should also find „common answers“ to cyber threats. Under the heading „Digital Sovereignty“, the Federal Government wants to invest more in research and develop cyber security into a quality feature „Made in Germany“. „Restrictive in cyberspace“ weiterlesen

Council and Commission: EU seeks two high-level security coordinators

After 14 years, the Council wants to recruit a new Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. Her remit will be expanded to include hybrid threats and cybersecurity. The Commission is also creating such a post.

The member states united in the European Council want to fill the position of the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator (CTC). The Council Secretariat has sent out an internal call for applications, the deadline is 15 June. The appointment will be made by the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy after consensus in the Council. The post is limited to five years, but a single reappointment is possible.

The creation of a CTC was decided by the then EU member states after the terrorist attacks of 11 March 2004 in Madrid as part of a declaration on the fight against terrorism. It is at the highest political level of the European Union. The post was first held by the Dutchman Gijs de Vries, and in 2007 the Belgian Gilles de Kerchove was appointed. „Council and Commission: EU seeks two high-level security coordinators“ weiterlesen