„Action day“ on Soundcloud: Europol also removes right-wing extremist content

Currently, removal requests to hosting providers only have to be voluntarily complied with, but on 7 June, the regulation on mandatory removal of terrorist online content will come into force. It only applies to jihadist propaganda. The German government is only now introducing an implementation law.

Once again, Europol has held a „Referral Action Day“ on the removal of internet content. This time the focus was on the online music service Soundcloud. The EU police agency reported around 1,100 illegal audio files and user profiles with terrorist or extremist content to the provider.

The „Action Day“ covered the week between 5 and 13 May. The activities were led by the Counter-Terrorism Centre, which was set up at Europol by EU interior ministers in 2015. This is also where the Internet Content Reporting Unit (EU IRU) is located, which is responsible for detecting and reporting content. „„Action day“ on Soundcloud: Europol also removes right-wing extremist content“ weiterlesen

American Dragnet: Immigration and Customs authority sets up unprecedented surveillance

For €2.7 billion, ICE has bought information and spying technology in recent years. Data from private brokers and government agencies has been used to create warrantless mass surveillance that affects a large proportion of US residents.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has set up an extensive surveillance network, reports the Georgetown University-based Center on Privacy & Technology in its newly published study „American Dragnet“. The alleged aim is to detect and arrest migrants who are obliged to leave the country. Among other things, the agency buys extensive data sets from private companies. With hundreds of requests under the Freedom of Information Act, the researchers have obtained and analysed these contracts.

Between 2008 and 2021, the ICE spent the equivalent of 2.7 billion euros on the acquisition, storage and processing of data. According to the Washington-based think tank, this has created a system that allows ICE to investigate US citizens in almost complete secrecy. For the study’s authors, the scope of the network came as a shock. „American Dragnet: Immigration and Customs authority sets up unprecedented surveillance“ weiterlesen

Encrypted communication: UK remains member of EU interception group

Despite Brexit, British police can influence surveillance laws in the EU. The country is also represented in European secret service circles.

Notwithstanding its exit from the European Union, the British police will remain a member of a Standing Heads of Lawful Interception Units based at Europol. The UK is represented there by the National Crime Agency. This was confirmed by the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, in her answer to a parlamentary question by the pirate Patrick Breyer. The UK is thus the only third country in the group, which otherwise consists exclusively of EU members and the Schengen states Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

The working group of the departments on telecommunications surveillance had once been founded as a strategic „5G Expert Group“ on the initiative of the German Federal Criminal Police Office. It was supposed to give the authorities access to the new telephone standard, which was actually tap-proof. After this was successfully pushed through in the European and international standardisation bodies ETSI and 3GPP, the group was given a new name and new tasks in October 2021. It is now to ensure that the needs of law enforcement agencies are taken into account when amending surveillance laws at EU level and in the member states. „Encrypted communication: UK remains member of EU interception group“ weiterlesen

Ukraine war: New Eurojust regulation in fast-track procedure

Eurojust is allowed to store and process personal and biometric data. As EU Justice Agency it will also be authorised to analyse digital evidence, but it does not actually have a mandate to do so.

The Permanent Representatives of the EU Member States today agreed on a position on the new Eurojust Regulation. The agency is responsible for judicial cooperation in criminal matters and coordinates cross-border investigations. Among the new proposals, Eurojust will be allowed to secure and process evidence on war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The three criminal offences enshrined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are part of Eurojust’s mandate, but the establishment of a biometric database is not yet part of it.

The background to this is the war in Ukraine, on which the agency is to take action following a request from the EU Council of Ministers for „Justice and Home Affairs“. Eurojust is supposed to support European and international courts and the in securing evidence. Because the measures required for this are urgent, the Eurojust Regulation will also be adopted in a two-month urgent procedure. The Commission had presented a corresponding legislative proposal only last week. Four days later, the Member States in the Council dealt with it for the first time. „Ukraine war: New Eurojust regulation in fast-track procedure“ weiterlesen

EU agency awaits requests for new maritime rescue drone

The Maritime Safety Agency EMSA has signed a four-year contract for new drone flights. But operational locations are still unclear because required flight permits and approvals are causing problems.

The European Union’s seas are increasingly becoming testing tracks for drone surveillance. The border agency Frontex has been monitoring the Libyan sea rescue zone for a year with an Israeli „Heron 1“; boats with refugees are reported to the coast guard in Libya for forced returns. Now Frontex wants to station such a long-range drone on Crete.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) also uses drones for maritime surveillance and was even significantly faster than Frontex in doing so. After a joint test six years ago, EMSA had been looking for companies to fly drones, and in the meantime the Lisbon-based agency has spent a three-digit million sum on them. „EU agency awaits requests for new maritime rescue drone“ weiterlesen

EU Parliament approves: Europol Regulation on the home straight

The EU police agency gets a new legal basis after six years. The expansion of its powers is hardly matched by new possibilities for supervision. A parliamentary control group even proves to be a driver for the expansion of an already powerful agency.

The EU Parliament has voted by a large majority to extend Europol’s powers. The negotiators of the Home Affairs Committee and the Council had agreed on the new regulation in February. With 480 votes in favour, 143 against and 20 abstentions, it was now approved in plenary.

The new text considerably expands the powers of the police agency based in The Hague. As in the investigations into the encrypted messenger services Encrochat and SkyECC, Europol will in future be allowed to receive millions of pieces of data from private companies in order to analyse them. Also in the area of crimes against the sexual self-determination of children, Europol will in future receive large data sets from companies and process them forensically. „EU Parliament approves: Europol Regulation on the home straight“ weiterlesen

European Court of Justice: Controls at the Schengen borders may not be extended arbitrarily

Some EU members still control their internal borders excessively. However, exceeding the time limit of six months is incompatible with the Schengen Borders Code. Governments and the EU Commission must now react.

The lifting of internal border controls is often praised as the greatest achievement of the European Union. However, especially for migration control, many countries have made use of the possibility of temporary reintroduction and have extended this regulation, sometimes dozens of times. This is contrary to EU law, ruled the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) in Luxembourg last week.

The case was brought by the Austrian citizen N.W., who refused to show his passport at a checkpoint at the Slovenian border in Austria and was ordered to pay a €36 fine for this according to a court ruling. In a second case, W. challenged the judgement. The Regional Administrative Court of Styria therefore referred the matter to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling. Now the courts in Austria have to deal with it again. „European Court of Justice: Controls at the Schengen borders may not be extended arbitrarily“ weiterlesen

Mediterranean Sea: Frontex claims to have detected 13,000 refugees with drones

After in Malta, the EU border agency is now stationing a long-range drone on Crete. There is contradictory information on the surveillance technology on board.

According to its own figures, Frontex has detected at least 13,000 refugees in 300 cases with the help of long-range drones and reported them to the responsible coast guards. Since May last year, the EU border agency has stationed a Heron 1 from the Israeli arms company IAI in Malta for such missions. The drone is officially registered to the Maltese Air Force.

The contract for Frontex drones was awarded to the German branch of the Airbus Group in Bremen, which also flies four Heron 1s for the German armed forces in Mali. They are controlled from a mobile facility located at the international airport near the Maltese capital Valletta. Other Airbus technicians are responsible for maintenance and repairs there. „Mediterranean Sea: Frontex claims to have detected 13,000 refugees with drones“ weiterlesen

Disrupted supply chains: Chip shortage hampers new EU databases

An EU agency is building a recognition system with biometric data on 400 million travellers. The contractors seem to have overstretched themselves

In future, anyone wishing to enter the European Union without a visa will have to register in a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) via a form on the internet, providing information on the purpose and course of the journey. Only with a travel authorisation can the border be crossed. In an Entry/Exit System (EES), all travellers must then submit four fingerprints and a facial image. The biometric data will end up in a huge archive that will be merged with other databases.

In the EU, the introduction of the new information systems is known as Interoperability. Various difficulties in implementation have already delayed the project by several months, and now more complications are on the horizon. This is stated in a presentation by the French Council Presidency, published by the British civil rights organisation Statewatch. According to it, a questionnaire answered by 24 EU member states showed delays in several countries. „Disrupted supply chains: Chip shortage hampers new EU databases“ weiterlesen

Frontex: Migration control from space

In EUROSUR, EU member states use various satellite services for maritime surveillance. Frontex and the Maritime Security Agency conclude cooperation agreements with the „Copernicus“ programme for this purpose.

All the information Frontex collects at the EU’s external borders is fed into the EUROSUR border surveillance system, which went into operation in 2014. From space, this data comes from the satellites of the EU’s Copernicus Earth Observation Programme, which is used for security, civil protection, environmental management and climate change research. To date, the EU has launched several optical and radar-based reconnaissance satellites for the programme. The space data are received and processed by the EU Satellite Centre (SatCen) in Torrejón, Spain, which has the status of an agency.

In the first years of its existence, Copernicus was known as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). After the European satellite navigation system „Galileo“, the European Commission described the platform as the „second flagship“ of European space policy, tailored to increased security needs. While the purpose of GMES in public was emphasised to be the monitoring of climate change and natural resources, there was rather silence about the „S“ for „security“. The first security-oriented GMES offshoots were LIMES (Land and Maritime Monitoring for Environment and Security), G-MOSAIC (GMES services for Management of Operations, Situation Awareness and Intelligence for regional Crises), MARISS (European Maritime Security Services), GMOSS (Global Monitoring for Security and Stability). „Frontex: Migration control from space“ weiterlesen