German proposal: Prohibited EU secret service cooperation through the back door

Although this violates EU treaties, the police agency Europol is to cooperate closely with secret services. This involves lists of suspicious persons originating from third countries. The individuals listed there will then be discreetly searched for throughout Europe.

In fact, the European Union has no competence to coordinate the secret services of the Member States. In the case of Germany, this would also violate the principle of separating the tasks of police and services. Nevertheless, the German EU Presidency is now for the first time pushing for operational cooperation coordinated by Europol.

The German proposal for a „coordinated approach“ deals with covert searches for persons under Article 36 of the SIS II Council Decision, which are based on lists of secret services such as the USA, but also from North Africa or the Western Balkans. They are to be entered into the Schengen Information System (SIS II), to which third countries do not have access. Only the 26 EU Member States involved, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland may issue such alerts. „German proposal: Prohibited EU secret service cooperation through the back door“ weiterlesen

EU database: European domestic secret services increasingly hunt abroad

50,000 people are under secret surveillance throughout Europe by the French police, another 50,000 are to be checked during routine police operations or when crossing the EU border. In the field of secret services, this wanted list is headed by Germany. Requests for such clandestine observation can also come from third countries.

More than 1,500 persons are being observed by the German secret service with the help of the Schengen Information System (SIS II) throughout Europe, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior writes in an overview. Entries are made by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), which is the leading office in the field of clandestine observations in Europe. Secret services in France and Great Britain have each issued alerts for slightly less than 1,500 persons, Sweden 625, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic around 500.

The SIS II has been used for 25 years by border, police, customs and immigration authorities as well as secret services from 26 EU Member States including Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Last year, almost one million people were wanted from these countries in the SIS II, for example, with a European arrest warrant or for missing persons. However, most entries concern persons who are subject to an entry ban after their deportation. Article 36 of the SIS II Council Decision covers with 168,000 in total a relatively large proportion of these one million, and the number is increasing significantly every year. „EU database: European domestic secret services increasingly hunt abroad“ weiterlesen

EU opens its biggest database for secret services from third countries

In the Schengen Information System, police and secret services may, inter alia, issue alerts for secret monitoring. Authorities from non-EU states can now have searches carried out via a detour. The German government remains silent about the exact role of its own secret service.

The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the largest European database, which has been used for 25 years by border, police, customs or immigration authorities and secret services. Today’s SIS II involves 26 EU Member States (all except Ireland and Cyprus) as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. As of 1 January 2020, more than 90 million people and objects were stored. Most of the entries, which increase every year, come from Italy, followed by France and Germany. The number of searches is also growing rapidly, with almost seven billion of them reported last year. That is about 220 searches per second.

Each Member State is responsible for the accuracy of its entries and must respect deadlines for deletion. Information that is stored in SIS II may also come from third countries, which is part of the normal practice of police forces and secret services. Last year, however, the European Union launched a pilot project to extend these entries to selected „trusted third countries“ and to find a uniform procedure for handling them. „EU opens its biggest database for secret services from third countries“ 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

The tracking bug in your pocket: Mobile phone surveillance in Germany

Procedures according to §§ 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO) to determine the whereabouts and identification of mobile phones in Germany

In addition to telecommunications surveillance (§ 100a StPO) and online searches (§ 100b StPO), German police authorities use technical means within the framework of §§ 100 StPO to determine the location of mobile phones. These include the so-called „silent SMS“, IMSI-Catcher and cell site analysis. Customs and the secret services are also partially authorised to perform these tasks. Six-monthly parliamentary inquiries in the Bundestag document that the number of measures for federal authorities has remained at about the same level in recent years. According to the figures of individual states, the investigative methods under Sections 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are in some cases used much more frequently there than by federal authorities. Some measures for the localisation of telephone owners are in a grey area and have led to legal adjustments. A ruling by the Federal Court of Justice last year could be the reason why the figures for „silent SMS“ have suddenly fallen sharply. Some federal states are currently merging into „Joint Competence and Service Centres“ in the field of police telecommunications surveillance (GKDZ), which are being set up in Hamburg and Leipzig/Dresden. It is possible that with these centralised GKDZs, the number of measures for telecommunications surveillance within the framework of §§ 100 StPO will increase further. „The tracking bug in your pocket: Mobile phone surveillance in Germany“ weiterlesen

EU facial recognition

Police and secret services can currently search facial images only in individual EU Member States. The EU wants to change that

The European Union wants to make it much easier for police to cross-check facial images. In the future, it will be possible to compare search photos with corresponding databases in all member states. Such a search could be carried out with still images from surveillance cameras in order to identify an unknown person. At present, each country in the EU must be contacted individually for this purpose.

The relevant facial image databases are usually held by police authorities. In Germany, this is the police information system INPOL, which is maintained at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) for all German police departments. More than four million searchable photographs are currently stored there, many of them from police measures after an arrest. „EU facial recognition“ weiterlesen

„Obstacles to surveillance“: How authorities insecure 5G telephony

In the fifth generation of mobile communications, encrypted and anonymous connections are technically feasible. Police and secret services, however, provide new interception possibilities

Following the auction of frequencies, mobile operators are building the new 5G network. This fifth generation of mobile phones is considered particularly secure because of its concept of „Privacy by Design“. Connections can be encrypted end-to-end, which makes interception much more difficult. The device numbers of the telephones and the unique identification of the SIM cards are also transmitted in encrypted form. Under 5G, the registered mobile phones also recognize suspicious mobile cells. This makes the IMSI catcher currently in use unusable for locating and listening to telephones in the vicinity.

The new possibilities for encryption and anonymisation are causing police forces and secret services headaches. The German Federal Ministry of the Interior complains of „additional technical hurdles in the monitoring of telecommunications and the implementation of technical investigation measures“ and announces „adjustments“ of the telecommunications legislation. „„Obstacles to surveillance“: How authorities insecure 5G telephony“ weiterlesen

EU adopts system for cyber sanctions

Anyone who „maliciously“ penetrates European information systems from a third country must expect a ban on entry and the confiscation of assets. However, it is unclear how such an attack is to be attributed.

The European Union has adopted new ways of responding to cyber attacks. Suspected attackers from third countries must reckon with sanctions. A corresponding regulation was approved by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council on Friday and subsequently published in the EU Official Journal. It is therefore in force immediately.

In the „Regulation on restrictive measures against cyber attacks threatening the Union or its member states“, the EU states follow a graduated procedure. As with violations of the Foreign Trade and Payments Act, persons, organisations or other „institutions“ are placed on a sanctions list and banned from entering the EU. Their assets can be confiscated or „frozen“. Sanctions may also be imposed on persons or entities associated with the persons concerned. Aid and abet to circumvent the EU measures will also be penalised. „EU adopts system for cyber sanctions“ weiterlesen

EU language biometrics projects: research for police and intelligence services

Voice samples can be analysed in order to identify unknown persons in tapped telephone conversations, audio chats and video files. If the technology were applied to internet nodes, then it would be of particular interest to intelligence services.

The Speaker Identification Integrated Project (SIIP) on the use of speech biometrics by the police, co-financed by the European Union (EU), has successfully passed its final test. This was announced by the international police organisation Interpol in a press release. SIIP’s objective is to identify and locate “criminals and terrorists” through the analysis of their voices.

A total of 19 authorities, companies and institutes are involved in SIIP, including the Italian Ministry of Defence, the University of Groningen and the companies Nuance and Airbus. The police organisation Interpol, of which 190 states are members, is the intended end-user of the project. Other interested parties include the Italian Carabinieri, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the Portuguese Criminal Police and the British Metropolitan Police. The project is scheduled to be terminated until April 2018. Following tests in the field, the participants are now in the process of drafting their final report. „EU language biometrics projects: research for police and intelligence services“ weiterlesen

Campaign Intelexit: „Exit path back to democracy“ for members of the intelligence community in moral conflicts

As „the world’s first exit program for the intelligence community“ the campaign Intelexit started last month. Employees from the secret services like the National Security Agency (NSA), the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) are to be supported to leave the institutions. A video with Bruce Schneier and Thomas Drake, the Vienna-based therapist Angelika Schneider and the former Stasi officer Walter Eichner explains the backgrounds, a flyer gives more details.

Intelexit is directed to all employees, not only those who work on surveillance programs or take part in drone wars. Concerned people, who see themselves in moral conflicts, should be helped to receive counselling, therapy and legal support. Those who have hesitations, can try a selftest on the campaigns website.

This interview was conducted with some of the organisers briefly before the start of the campaign. „Campaign Intelexit: „Exit path back to democracy“ for members of the intelligence community in moral conflicts“ weiterlesen