Allegedly hardly any „Reichsbürger“ among German security authorities

Unlike right-wing extremism in general, the number of known cases of „Citizens of the Reich“ among police and military is conspicuously low

„The accused are united by a deep rejection of state institutions and the free democratic basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany,“ writes the Federal Prosecutor General at the Federal Supreme Court about the raids on the „Reichsbürger“ („Citizens of the Reich“) milieu the day before yesterday. According to its press release, some of those arrested as terrorist organisations formed a „military arm“ with a leadership of nine persons. Their aim was to set up „homeland security companies“ and to arm them as well as to carry out shooting exercises.

Recruitment efforts had focused on members of the Bundeswehr and the police. Some of the accused were themselves active members of the Bundeswehr, the federal authority writes. The investigations are also directed against a soldier of the Bundeswehr’s Special Forces Command (KSK), according to which his house and his office in a barracks in Calw were searched. „Allegedly hardly any „Reichsbürger“ among German security authorities“ weiterlesen

German football fans speak out against repression

Umbrella organisation defends itself against surveillance and arbitrary police violence

Football fans are demanding less violence and surveillance from the police in Germany. At the annual general meeting of their umbrella organisation in Hanover, 22 local associations published a joint catalogue with five central demands against „permanent surveillance, restrictions on freedom, unlawful data collection, lack of action against police violence and the planned control of all digital communication“. The massive police presence at football matches in and around stadiums is criticised.

Often, fans are „treated worse than other citizens“ and are approached particularly harshly by the police. At matches abroad, there are also reprisals against the travelling fans, including the refusal to allow them to go to the toilet. „Water cannons, full-body checks and even drone surveillance are now part of the standard police repertoire – even at 3rd division football matches. This reveals a completely exaggerated general suspicion of all fans,“ says Linda Röttig, a member of the board of the umbrella organisation. This hostile image of „football fans“ must be systematically dismantled. „German football fans speak out against repression“ weiterlesen

Go film the police: How the police want to define the „de facto public“

Interview with Maren Burkhardt

The German Campaign for Victims of Racist Police Violence (Kampagne für Opfer rassistischer Polizeigewalt, KOP) calls for documenting police actions with video footage. Initially, the police defended themselves against this with the Art Copyright Act, now the police often describes its spoken word as „non-public“. I spoke about this with Maren Burkhardt, who represented and supported the campaign as a lawyer.

For years, police authorities have tried to hinder the filming of operations. The prohibitions imposed in this context have gained a new variant in the form of § 201 of the Criminal Code (StGB). The section protects the confidentiality of the spoken word. Would it be permissible to film police operations, but not to record them with a microphone?

§ Section 201 of the Criminal Code serves to protect the right to preserve the impartiality of the non-publicly spoken word. Accordingly, the provision only refers to the oral voice. The wording of the provision is therefore clearly not directed at the visual recording of persons. Filming without sound is therefore not punishable under section 201 of the Criminal Code. „Go film the police: How the police want to define the „de facto public““ weiterlesen

New EU control system: Waiting times at German borders to triple

In six months‘ time, travellers from third countries will have their passports, fingerprints and facial images checked automatically. Because of the time-consuming procedure, the German Federal Police is hoping for the timely delivery of self-service machines and is considering a call for help to Frontex.

End of May 2023, the European Union will put a new biometric database into operation. All travellers to the EU will then have to provide four fingerprints and their facial image as part of the Entry/Exit System (EES) and have their passport automatically scanned. This will affect citizens of those countries that benefit from the visa-free regime for short stays in the Schengen area. It makes no difference what the reason for the journey is.

With the EES, the EU member states want to identify so-called „overstayers“. This refers to persons who overstay a maximum of 90 days and do not leave within the prescribed period. The new system also eliminates the manual stamping of travel documents. In the EES, registration is only done electronically. „New EU control system: Waiting times at German borders to triple“ weiterlesen

After years of EU funding: Maritime emergency centre in Libya „not operational“

Since 2017, the EU has invested in one project alone at least €57 million to counter migration from Libya. The Brussels backers also are worried about their reputation.

Since the so-called „migration crisis“, the European Union has been investing in increased surveillance of Libya’s maritime borders. In 2017, Italy was tasked with installing a maritime coordination centre in the capital Tripoli and establishing a Search And Rescue (SAR) zone, for which Libya has since been solely responsible.

A year later, with Italian support, Libya registered this SAR zone with the United Nations Maritime Organisation. Now, however, it turns out that even after five years of EU support, the associated centre in Libya is in fact „not operational“ at all. This was announced by the High Representative and Vice-President of the EU Commission, Joseph Borrell, in response to a parliamentary question. MEP Özlem Demirel had asked about the EU-funded technology in the centre. „After years of EU funding: Maritime emergency centre in Libya „not operational““ weiterlesen

After EU recommendation: Frontex drone allowed to fly in civilian airspace in Greece

Two Israeli arms companies are offering their long-range drones in Europe for border surveillance. In addition to the military in Switzerland, the Greek coast guard is also carrying out corresponding missions.

For more than a year, the EU border agency Frontex has stationed a large drone at Valletta Airport in Malta to monitor the central Mediterranean. The unmanned aerial vehicle of Heron 1 type with a wingspan of almost 17 metres comes from the manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries. In the summer, another such drone from Israel followed for flights from the island of Crete. The Greek coast guard uses it to observe the Ionian Sea, which stretches between the Peloponnese and Italy, as part of Frontex missions.

Until now, Frontex drones were only allowed to take off and land in reserved or restricted airspace. Now, the Greek Civil Aviation Authority has granted permission for the Heron 1 to operate in general Greek airspace. It is the first permit of its kind for an Israeli long-range drone in Europe. This brings to a positive end a test phase of around ten years for the drone industry: corresponding trials with a Heron 1 were already carried out in Spanish civil airspace in 2012. „After EU recommendation: Frontex drone allowed to fly in civilian airspace in Greece“ weiterlesen

Police agreement: Europol to exchange biometric data with Israel

Israeli authorities are to be allowed to process and interlink personal information from the EU using „automated procedures“. According to a draft, this would even be possible in the territories occupied after 1967, although the so-called territorial clause excludes this.

Five years ago, EU member states gave the Commission a mandate to start negotiations for a Europol agreement with Israel, after the Estonian Presidency had presented a draft to that effect at the end of 2017. Now the Commission appears to have finished negotiating. The British civil rights organisation Statewatch has posted the document online. The Council and Parliament are now expected to give the green light.

The planned cooperation with the EU police agency is explicitly about the exchange of personal data. All authorities responsible for fighting terrorism and organised crime in Israel would benefit from this. According to the draft, however, it would also cover „product piracy“, „racism and xenophobia“, „swindle“ and „migrant smuggling“. „Police agreement: Europol to exchange biometric data with Israel“ weiterlesen

German secret service law does not have to go into the shredder

The Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the domestic secret service violates the principle of separation. The legislature should therefore amend the law

The German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) is no longer allowed to pass on secretly collected data on individuals to police authorities as it pleases. This is stated in the written version of the judgement of 28 September, which was published today on the website of the Federal Constitutional Court (Ref. 1 BvR 2354/13).

According to the ruling, the practice violates the principle of separation between the secret services and the police, which is considered a German legal principle after the experiences with the Gestapo under National Socialism. „German secret service law does not have to go into the shredder“ weiterlesen

„Partial unavailability“: Largest EU police database repeatedly down

Since the Schengen Information System has been run by an EU agency, it has failed completely on at least 34 occasions. The latest incidents are only now being made public.

The Schengen Information System (SIS II), launched in 1995, is the largest European information system. As a police database, it forms the digital backbone of the Schengen Agreement, with which the European Union strengthens the surveillance of its external borders against unwanted migration and cross-border crime. It is queried by the participating authorities of the Schengen states during every police check, but also when applying for documents.

Since 2013, the Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA ), which was founded a year earlier, has been managing the SIS II central system. It has now become known that the database, which is physically located in Strasbourg, has been completely offline several times since then. This is what the EU Commission writes in the not yet officially available answer to a written question by MEP Cornelia Ernst. This led, accordingly, to a „degradation and partial unavailability of some of the functionalities of the system“. „„Partial unavailability“: Largest EU police database repeatedly down“ weiterlesen

Meeting in Washington: EU plans biometric super database

The European Entry/Exit System will go live next spring. It is expected to surpass the world’s largest police biometric database in the US.

With the Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA) and Frontex, two EU agencies are responsible for controls at European external borders. In the area of research and development, both work closely together to keep their technical applications up-to-date and to introduce innovations. Biometric applications are currently in particular focus: The European Union will start operating a new Entry/Exit system in May 2023, which will process and store four fingerprints and facial images of all third state travellers at the external borders.

Such biometric surveillance comes with new difficulties. Especially at land borders, the authorities expect longer queues when, for example, several car occupants or coach passengers have to submit fingerprints and facial images at the same time. Travellers will also have to put up with longer waiting times at airports and enter their biometric data at self-service kiosks. „Meeting in Washington: EU plans biometric super database“ weiterlesen