Criticism over research: EU Commission funds platform to predict „migration flows“

In an Open Letter, eleven organisations criticise the creation of an infrastructure for predictive migration technologies. The tool, which is also supposed to anticipate „tensions“, is based on „artificial intelligence“. It could therefore contradict a forthcoming EU regulation.

To prevent or at least control unwanted migration, the European Union has various tools at its disposal to support its member states. Central to this is the border agency Frontex, which monitors the EU external borders with satellites, aircraft and drones. Frontex also conducts regular reconnaissance of the „pre-frontier area“ far from European shores. With 30 African states, the agency has started its own network for this purpose, which also processes intelligence information.

Now the EU Commission wants to go one step further. With the help of data from various sources, a so-called EUMigraTool is to predict and control „migration flows“ in Europe. The modelling and prediction is to be carried out using „deep learning“. In its first stage, theEUMigraTool is not intended to support the deterrence, but the reception, resettlement and relocation of refugees. Several civil society organisations and individuals nevertheless demand in an open letter that the project be stopped. „Criticism over research: EU Commission funds platform to predict „migration flows““ weiterlesen

„Wicked problem“: Europol considers vulnerability exploitation to break encryption

At a conference hosted by the EU police agency, three ways to decrypt communications and storage media were discussed. One of the approaches was apparently pushed by the Bavarian State Office of Criminal Investigation.

For at least seven years, EU member states have been looking for ways to give their law enforcement agencies access to encrypted content. Time and again, the Council, which consists of the 27 governments, has stressed the importance of encryption for secure communications and supposedly ruled out backdoors. Like the EU Commission, the EU states instead relied on infecting mobile phones with governmental spyware to read encrypted messenger services. The encryption of seized devices or storage media, on the other hand, was planned to be broken with the help of supercomputers.

But now the establishment of a common vulnerability management is back on the agenda of European police and judicial authorities. Under the leadership of the EU police agency Europol, about 70 participants discussed a possible „EU policy“ in this area – for example, whether security vulnerabilities in software should not be reported immediately to the manufacturers, but should be exploited for the programming of state spying tools. This is according to the transcript of a conference of the „EU Innovation Hub for Internal Security“ published by the British civil liberties organisation Statewatch. At the end of a „Round Table on Encryption“, those responsible had assured that they wanted to tackle the „wicked problem“ at EU level. „„Wicked problem“: Europol considers vulnerability exploitation to break encryption“ weiterlesen

Border surveillance: Frontex installs cameras in the stratosphere

With high-altitude platforms, the EU border agency aims to close the gap between its planes, drones and satellites.

Frontex could in future have high-flying platforms deployed for surveillance from the stratosphere. In this way, the European Border Agency wants to close the gap between aircraft and satellites, which are already used for border surveillance. A corresponding research project is to begin on 1 October 2022 and last 36 months, the EU Commission announced in its answer to a parliamentary question. Accordingly, the EU financial support amounts to around €5.8 million.

The EU Commission had already published a call for tenders for so-called high-altitude platforms working on behalf of Frontex a year ago. Now the Commission has published details of the plans on its website. Accordingly, the contract for an „advanced surveillance platform to improve the EURopean Multi Authority BordeR Security efficiency and cooperation“ (EURMARS) was awarded to a consortium of 16 companies, ministries, authorities and institutes from 12 Member States. „Border surveillance: Frontex installs cameras in the stratosphere“ weiterlesen

Artificial intelligence for border surveillance: Greece tests autonomous drone swarms

Despite repeatedly documented human rights abuses, the EU is funding new technology to monitor its external border with Turkey.

No European state is as suspected as Greece of violating human rights and international law in its control of the EU’s external borders. Greek border troops use force to drag refugees back into the strait with Turkey without granting them the right to apply for asylum. At sea, as well as on the border river Evros, people in emergency situations are left to fend for themselves or even pushed into the water.

Now the Greek authorities are researching new methods to detect border crossings from the air. This will involve the use of drones that will take over tasks for border surveillance and law enforcement with the help of „real-time artificial intelligence“. The project is called REACTION and researches technologies for land border surveillance. Details of the project were presented by the Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, at a trade fair in Thessaloniki earlier this month. „Artificial intelligence for border surveillance: Greece tests autonomous drone swarms“ weiterlesen

Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed

So far, only EU states and Europol are allowed to access databases at Interpol, but soon Frontex and the new public prosecutor’s office will be allowed to do so as well. The EU Parliament has drawn red lines for the negotiations.

As an intergovernmental organisation, Interpol aims to facilitate international police cooperation in the field of terrorism and serious crime. With 195 member countries, it is the largest organisation of its kind in the world, run by the General Secretariat in Lyon, France. However, it is an informal, i.e. private association, because Interpol is not linked to any other international organisation.

Interpol already cooperates with law enforcement agencies of the European Union at various levels and in various projects, including „integrated border management“ in addition to the organisation’s actual areas of responsibility. This cooperation is now to be carried out under a new agreement. The EU Commission already presented a proposal for this in the spring of last year. However, the negotiations are at a standstill. „Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed“ weiterlesen

Copyright infringement: Radio Dreyeckland issues a warning to secret service

Once again, a domestic secret service has used a photo without asking the rights holders for permission. In the Freiburg case, this also discredits journalism. The interference of the agency in the formation of political will is also critical.

The popular Radio Dreyeckland was successful with a warning against the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Without asking for the necessary permission, the domestic secret service had used a picture to illustrate an article and must therefore pay €1,500. This was confirmed to netzpolitik.org by the Berlin lawyer David Werdermann, who represents the Freiburg-based radio station.

The warning was about a picture by freelance journalist Julian Rzepa that Radio Dreyeckland had previously published on its website. It shows a demonstration on the occasion of a house eviction on 11 December 2021 in Freiburg city centre. At www.rdl.de it was clearly marked „all rights reserved“. „Copyright infringement: Radio Dreyeckland issues a warning to secret service“ weiterlesen

Equipment and training: Germany supports police build-up in Croatia

The Croatian police are known for their brutality and human rights violations at the country’s external borders, yet the German governments continues to train them. Number plate scanners, thermal imaging cameras and vehicles could be used for pushbacks in violation of international law.

Croatia has been an official member of the European Union since 2013. Until then, the Western Balkan state has received the usual financial „pre-accession aid“ to get fit for joining the Schengen area. However, the country is still denied full application of the Schengen acquis because of concerns raised by France and the Netherlands about the lack of rule of law. Therefore, internal border controls with neighbouring EU states Slovenia and Hungary continue.

However, one reason for the blockade of full Schengen application by individual EU members could also be Croatia’s function as a bulwark on the so-called „Balkan route“. Many refugees cross the country to reach wealthier EU states and apply for asylum there. Maintaining internal border controls with its northern neighbours could make this unwanted migration more difficult. „Equipment and training: Germany supports police build-up in Croatia“ weiterlesen

Terrorism, crime, migration: Nine EU agencies active because of Ukraine war

Most of the action is being taken by Europol and Frontex, which together have deployed around 280 staff to the region. Eurojust collects evidence against war crimes. The agency for the operation of large databases, on the other hand, plays a minor role.

At the end of March, the European Council called on its member states to better coordinate the reception of refugees from Ukraine. In addition to this ten-point plan and initial emergency financial aid of €668 million, the government in Kiev is being supported by individual member states in the security sector with military aid against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The EU is providing €2.5 billion for this purpose. On 25 July 2022, the European Investment Bank approved an additional €1.6 billion aid package for reconstruction.

Less well known is the support provided by EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) agencies, some of which are also carrying out extensive operations in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. As a „network of JHA agencies“, they published a joint statement with a „commitment to assist“ just two weeks after the war began. Some of them participate in the „Working Group on Integrated Political Crisis Response“, through which the EU aims to react on security incidents. A recently published overview describes the different activities. „Terrorism, crime, migration: Nine EU agencies active because of Ukraine war“ weiterlesen

New super-databases: EU agencies get experience from the USA

The EU wants to store fingerprints and facial images of over 400 million people from third countries in a single silo. US authorities already have such a system for around 275 million people. Both sides now want to cooperate more closely on this matter.

The European Union is currently merging all databases containing biometric data into a new system. Under the heading of „Interoperability“, this involves the Schengen Information System, the visa database, the fingerprint system for asylum seekers and a file on foreign convicts in terrorism proceedings.

In this way, a new super-database is being created, which will be supplemented next year by an Entry/Exit System (EES). After refugees and those requiring visas, all other travellers from third countries will then also have to hand over their biometric data when crossing the border into the EU. The entire new system could then contain fingerprints and facial images of over 400 million people from third countries, writes Sopra Steria, one of the contractors for the interoperability project. „New super-databases: EU agencies get experience from the USA“ weiterlesen

Criticism also of COP 27: Egyptian blogger still on hunger strike

Egyptians in exile are currently protesting for the release of blogger and democracy activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah. A Berlin based solidarity group has also criticised Germany, which is an important trading partner of the regime in Cairo and wants to import „green energy“.

The Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abd el-Fattah is considered one of the faces of the 2011 revolution, but the government keeps imprisoning him. He has been on hunger strike since 2 April, eating only 100 calories a day. Alaa also has British citizenship, so his supporters are protesting in front of British consulates and embassies. The new solidarity group OccupyCOP27 from Berlin responds about this. „Criticism also of COP 27: Egyptian blogger still on hunger strike“ weiterlesen