Frontex and Europol: How refugees are tracked digitally

EU agencies advise increased confiscation and extraction of asylum seekers‘ mobile phones and now provide a manual on how to do so. Apps to encrypt or disguise locations are disliked in the report as „countermeasures“ to surveillance.

Often the mobile phones they carry are the only connection between refugees and their relatives and friends in their country of origin or elsewhere. They contain contacts, personal communication as well as photos and videos as a memory of the home countries. Only within the European Union is it possible to apply for asylum in its member states. Therefore, the phones are also an indispensable aid for navigating to receiving countries and finding out about conditions and support there.

Asylum seekers‘ mobile phones are also of increasing interest to authorities. As punishment for irregular entry, border guards in Greece and Croatia, and most recently at the EU’s external border with Belarus, destroy them before abandoning their owners at sea or forcibly push them back. Police forces, on the other hand, confiscate the phones in order to gain information about routes used and people helping to flee. „Frontex and Europol: How refugees are tracked digitally“ weiterlesen

Less „Silent SMS“ from German police, but more secrecy for domestic intelligence

The blog Netzpolitik.org graphically displays the sending of „Silent SMS“ every six months. This shows the extent to which police forces and secret services use mobile phones as tracking bugs. Because of this „condensation“ of information worthy of protection, the figures for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution are classified as „secret“.

German Federal authorities currently use significantly less „Silent SMS“ than in previous years. This is shown by the actual figures, which the Federal Ministry of the Interior (MoI) provides on request every six months. Accordingly, the Federal Police (BPOL) sent 20,152 „Silent SMS“ in the first half of 2019 (second half of 2018: 50,654; first half of 2018: 38,990). There was also a decrease by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). In the first half of 2019 the figure was only 6,302, compared with 21,337 secret text messages previously sent by the authority. „Less „Silent SMS“ from German police, but more secrecy for domestic intelligence“ weiterlesen

Mass confiscation of mobile phones by police after spontaneous anti-rascist demonstration

On Thursday 16 January around 600 people in Leipzig took part in a spontaneous demonstration against racism focused on the murder of Khaled Idris Bahray, a 20-year-old Ertirean refugee who was found stabbed to death two days earlier in Dresden, the capital of the federal state Saxony. [1]

His friends had made posts on Facebook saying that the injuries he suffered led them to guess it was murder, but the police initially claimed they did not consider there to be any third-party responsibility for his death. The next day, 30 hours later, a spokesperson for the police reported that when washing the corpse they found several wounds, probably inflicted by a knife, and from which he probably died. The crime scene was until that point not secured or thoroughly investigated. „Mass confiscation of mobile phones by police after spontaneous anti-rascist demonstration“ weiterlesen