Facial recognition and mobility tracking: UK is monitoring foreign criminals with smartwatches

Five times a day, people awaiting trial or deportation can be prompted by an app to scan their face. Together with location data, the information will be stored by the prison administration for up to six years.

The UK Ministry of Justice wants to track convicted criminals with the help of detachable smartwatches. This is reported by the Guardian, citing plans by the prison administration. The practice would only apply to foreign national offenders (FNOs) awaiting trial or deportation. It would also enforce curfews and bans on entering certain regions.

Alternatively, the wearing of an electronic ankle bracelet could be ordered. With both systems, the Ministry of Justice plans to monitor the behaviour of about 21,400 people over the next three years, which is about 6,000 more than in March 2022. If they violate bail conditions, the prison administration will inform the Ministry of the Interior for further action. „Facial recognition and mobility tracking: UK is monitoring foreign criminals with smartwatches“ weiterlesen

German police and secret service: Transmission of Kurdish association data is illegal

Associations of foreign nationals are kept in a central register in Germany. Members of Kurdish foundations are subject to special surveillance. However, a corresponding decree from 1994 can not be found anymore.

The German Federal Office of Administration (BVA) transmits data on Kurdish associations to the police and secret service without any reason. The background to this is a 1994 decree by then Interior Minister Manfred Kanther (Christian Democrats) to prosecute the Kurdistan Workers‘ Party (PKK), which had been forbidden in Germany a year earlier.

However, there is no legal basis for this nearly thirty-year-old practice. This is confirmed by an expert opinion of the Scientific Services in the Bundestag, which was commissioned by Gökay Akbulut, a member of the Left Party. Akbulut commented that this was a „blatant breach of law and politically intolerable“. „German police and secret service: Transmission of Kurdish association data is illegal“ weiterlesen

Artificial intelligence: Frontex improves its maritime surveillance

Frontex wants to use a new platform to automatically detect and assess „risks“ on the seas of the European Union. Suspected irregular activities are to be displayed in a constantly updated „threat map“ with the help of self-learning software.

The EU border agency has renewed a contract with Israeli company Windward for a „maritime analytics“ platform. It will put the application into regular operation. Frontex had initially procured a licence for around 800,000 Euros. For now 2.6 million Euros, the agency will receive access for four workstations. The contract can be extended three times for one year at a time.

Windward specialises in the digital aggregation and assessment of vessel tracking and maritime surveillance data. Investors in the company, which was founded in 2011, include former US CIA director David Petraeus and former CEO’s of Thomson Reuters and British Petroleum. The former chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gabi Ashkenazi, is considered one of the advisors. „Artificial intelligence: Frontex improves its maritime surveillance“ weiterlesen

SPECTRE Project: EU finances technology for undercover investigations

Police forces from 34 countries have been investigating criminal networks in South Eastern Europe since 2017, money comes from the Internal Security Fund of the European Union. In addition to all kinds of espionage and wiretapping technology, they also pay informers.

For undercover investigations, European police forces use miniaturized surveillance technology, but usually remain extremely secretive about how it works. Since 2017, spy cameras, pocket microphones, mini drones and other equipment have also been procured through an EU project. This is why the European Commission had to provide details of the small devices in response to a parliamentary question. „SPECTRE Project: EU finances technology for undercover investigations“ weiterlesen

Border with Turkey: EU Commission wants to track down refugees with „foliage detection“

A EU research project is testing the combination of different surveillance technologies on refugees. This involves telephone and motion detectors, cameras, radar systems, electromagnetic sensors as well as eavesdropping microphones. In addition to drones, „stratospheric platforms“ will also be used.

On its research website, the EU Commission states that „irregular migration has dramatically increased, and is no longer manageable with existing systems“. This is why the Commission wants to improve the detection of undocumented border crossings with new technology. The focus is on densely wooded land borders, which are difficult to monitor with patrols. The security research project is entitled „Through-foliage detection, including in the outermost regions of the EU“ (FOLDOUT) and is led by the Austrian Institute of Technology. Among those involved are the French armaments group Thales and border police forces from Bulgaria, Finland, Lithuania and Poland. „Border with Turkey: EU Commission wants to track down refugees with „foliage detection““ weiterlesen

„Discover, identify and interfere“: The MUROS from Meckenheim

A German company builds special vehicles with surveillance technology. They film demonstrations, wiretap telephones or coordinate swarms of drones at EU external borders.

In the EU security research project ROBORDER, European border authorities are testing various drones for controlling land and sea borders. An unmanned ground vehicle, a long-range drone, a surface drone and an underwater drone operate independently and in swarms. Several sensors deliver videos and geodata of suspicious vehicles or ships. Unauthorised border crossings on land are monitored using thermal imaging cameras or radar equipment.

Tests are carried out on the Greek island of Kos in the Aegean Sea. All recordings converge in a mobile situation centre. The vehicle comes from the German manufacturer Elettronica from Meckenheim in North Rhine-Westphalia and is based on a Mercedes Sprinter. Under the product line „Public Security“ it is sold as „Multirole operations support vehicle“ (MUROS). Elettronica receives around 430,000 euros from the EU Commission for its participation in ROBORDER. The Greek Ministry of Defence is also involved in the research into swarms of drones, so the results could be used for military purposes. „„Discover, identify and interfere“: The MUROS from Meckenheim“ weiterlesen

EU surveillance state

The EU is increasing the surveillance in its Member States. US authorities could soon also wiretap legally in Europe

The new European Parliament is to be constituted in September, after which the EU Commission will be re-elected. The governments of the member states use this phase to put far-reaching surveillance measures on track. This week the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers debated this on their Council meeting in Luxembourg.

Data retention is right at the top of the agenda. EU-wide, Internet and telephone providers are to be forced to store data on customers and their communications for years. If necessary, these could later be queried by police authorities or secret services. Although the European Union adopted a corresponding directive in 2006, it was declared invalid ten years later by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). As a result, many member states issued national regulations that differ in the depth of intervention or storage period. „EU surveillance state“ weiterlesen

Mass travel monitoring: 500 new posts for German Passenger Name Record system

EU-wide surveillance of air travellers is gathering pace. In the first year, the German BKA manually inspected tens of thousands of passengers after the automated screening. The authorities ordered follow-up measures for 277 passengers. These include arrests, open or discreet checks.

German authorities continue to look for personnel to implement the retention of passenger data. Of the more than 500 posts planned for the new system, around one third are currently occupied. This was written by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior in response to questions on the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive.

The law passed in 2016 is intended to ensure comprehensive monitoring of air passengers. Airlines, travel agencies and other travel providers must transmit several dozen Passenger Name Records (PNR) to the responsible Passenger Information Unit (PIU) before each international flight. There they are stored and analysed in a Passenger Data Information System. The routinely processed information includes individual data, including name, address, flight connection, seat, meal requests or IP addresses. „Mass travel monitoring: 500 new posts for German Passenger Name Record system“ weiterlesen

Significantly more „Silent SMS“ with German police authorities

Police in Germany are a matter for the federal states, this also applies to the surveillance of telecommunications. In Schleswig-Holstein alone, local police departments send as many „Silent SMS“ as the Federal Police. A decision of the Federal Court of Justice should contain this practice, but a change is hardly recognizable.

German authorities are increasingly using mobile phones as a tracking device. This results from the semi-annual overview recently published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in response to a parliamentary question. According to the report, the Federal Police sent 50,654 „Silent SMS“ in the second half of the year, compared with 38,990 in the previous half-year. Only the figures for the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) show a decrease. In the second half of the year, the authority sent 21,337 „Silent SMS“, about 10,000 fewer than previous. „Significantly more „Silent SMS“ with German police authorities“ weiterlesen