German police use drone to combat social benefit fraud

Along with Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the pioneers in the use of police drones. Now an unmanned aircraft is being used to track organised fraudulent benefits to the disfavor of the job centre

The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has procured a drone in order to convict „groups of offenders with a gang structure“ in the case of fraudulent social benefits. This was announced by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in its answer to a parlamentarian question. The device, which was financed by the EU Internal Security Fund, is intended for the prosecution of „social benefit fraud by EU citizens“ in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The Federal Ministry does not want to disclose which device it is and which company received the order for reasons of „public weal“. Otherwise, the addressees of the measure could protect themselves against it, writes Hans-Georg Engelke, the state secretary in charge. „German police use drone to combat social benefit fraud“ weiterlesen

Facial recognition: Number of persons identified in Germany doubles annually

The German police are increasingly using photographs to name unknown persons. More and more, pictures from social networks are being used. Recognition is also possible if the persons are wearing a protective mouth-nose mask. Some authorities also use so-called super-recognisers.

A growing number of people are being identified by German police forces with the help of facial recognition. Since 2018, they have doubled every year; in 2020, this amounted to 4,403 people. This is what the Federal Ministry of the Interior writes in its answer to a written question on the police facial recognition system (GES). Around one third of those affected were named by the Federal Police.

Since 2008, the GES has been centrally managed by the Federal Criminal Police Office and is available to the Federal Police and all 16 State Criminal Police Offices. A query can be made if a person is a suspect but his or her name is not known. The type of offence charged is irrelevant; the system can also be searched in the case of an insult or shoplifting. „Facial recognition: Number of persons identified in Germany doubles annually“ weiterlesen

Can police databases kill?

It is hardly possible for asylum seekers to correct wrong entries in German information systems. In North Rhine-Westphalia, these false entries led to the death of Amad Ahmad. In Hesse, too, this digital police arbitrariness is now becoming evident.

On 29 September 2018, Amad Ahmad, originally from Syria, died of his burn injuries in the Sankt Antonius Hospital in Kleve. Twelve days earlier, the 26-year-old had been found in his burning cell in the prison in the district town. He or someone else had piled up the mattress, bedding and sheets and set them on fire. Because there are no smoke detectors in the cells of the prison in North Rhine-Westphalia, Ahmad could only be rescued after long minutes and therefore only with severe burns.

The case has been investigated by a sub-committee of the Düsseldorf state parliament for almost two years. It is not only the circumstances of Ahmad’s death that are to be clarified. In fact, the Syrian was suicidal. However, the fact that he really wanted to die does not fit with the fact that he triggered the emergency call via the intercom and apparently opened the windows. „Can police databases kill?“ weiterlesen

Police in Germany launch large-scale drone project

North Rhine-Westphalia will equip the police with a total of 106 quadrocopters from 2021. They will also be used for the „pursuit of offenders“.

In Germany, more and more police authorities use quadrocopters, mainly to monitor the scene of violent crimes or after traffic accidents. The surveillance of political assemblies does occur, but these missions are still rare. Saxony first acquired small drones over ten years ago and flew them at football matches and demonstrations. In Lower Saxony, a quadrocopter once flew during a nuclear waste transport. In Freiburg, a special operations team recently brought quadrocopters to a house eviction.

Other missions took place this year during the first lockdown in spring. Police in Hesse and Bavaria launched quadrocopters to patrol Corona restrictions in parks, and they are also said to have been used on the island of Rügen. However, it is not known whether any footage was collected and processed in these operations. In North Rhine-Westphalia, drones with loudspeakers flew over green spaces to instruct the public. „Police in Germany launch large-scale drone project“ weiterlesen

Europol uses Palantir

Since 2016, the European Police Agency has been using the „Gotham“ software to analyse big data. Europol has signed a contract for 7.5 million euros with the company Capgemini, just over half of the money has already been spent. Palantir promoted the software at the „European Police Congress“ in Berlin.

The police agency Europol in The Hague has been running the „Gotham“ software of the US company Palantir for several years. This is what the European Commission writes in its answer to a parliamentary question. The application was tested in 2016 within the framework of the „Fraternité“ task force, which Europol set up after the attacks in France at that time. Palantir is criticized for his close cooperation with the military and secret services in the USA.

Since mid-2017, „Gotham“ has been in continuous operation, and Europol is using it for „operational analysis“. This enables investigators to calculate and visualize relationships between persons, objects or the course of events. „Structured data“, such as contact lists, tables from radio cell queries and travel histories, are linked with „unstructured data“ such as photos or location data. This big data analysis is intended to generate new investigative hints. „Europol uses Palantir“ weiterlesen

Germany: Many „silent SMS“ at federal and state level

Inquiries in parliaments and under the Freedom of Information Act show the amount of secret text messages to find out the whereabouts of telephones and their owners. Police use the method in real time for arrests, while secret services create longer-term movement profiles with it.

„Silent SMS“ are text messages whose reception is not indicated by the mobile phone. However, they generate a communication process that is logged by the telephone providers. With a court order, security authorities query this data record. Police and secret services are interested in the radio cells in which the phones are located. In this way, they obtain the location and a movement profile of the persons concerned.

For some years now, biannual inquiries to the German government have documented that the figures for „silent SMS“ at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Federal Police are at a similar level. The highest value for both authorities together was in the first half of 2016 at around 138,000, the lowest in the first half of 2019 at around 26,000. Subsequently, the figures have more than doubled again, the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced last week. „Germany: Many „silent SMS“ at federal and state level“ weiterlesen

Interpol requests from Turkey: Sloppiness of German police puts own citizens into prison

Two Germans are in extradition custody in Slovenia and Italy at the request of Turkish authorities. Both come from Turkey and were granted asylum in Germany for political persecution and later citizenship. Interpol should have withdrawn the request. The BKA, however, concealed the asylum status of the two.

Two months ago, the Slovenian police arrested Ismet Kilic, who lives in the German city Duisburg, on his return from holiday and imprisoned him for extradition. This was based on a request to arrest and extradite Ismet Kilic from Turkey, which was distributed as a so-called Red Notice via the police organisation Interpol.

Kilic had applied in Germany for asylum in 1997. The subsequent recognition as a politically persecuted person was based on Turkish accusations that he had founded a trade union for civil servants and was a member of a left-wing extremist organisation. His conviction before the State Security Court in Ankara was in absentia, and Interpol’s request, which now led to his arrest, relates to the prison sentence imposed at the time. „Interpol requests from Turkey: Sloppiness of German police puts own citizens into prison“ weiterlesen