US security assistance: Drone boats for Ukraine

After kamikaze drones for the army, the Ukrainian navy is getting unmanned naval systems from the government in Washington. They could be dangerous for Russia in the Black Sea.

The US government has already decided on several weapons packages for Ukraine, at least three of which include drones. First, the Ukrainian army benefited from so-called loitering Switchblade munitions. Similar flying weapon systems are following with the Phoenix Ghost, which are intended to cause even more destruction. Now unmanned swimming systems are being delivered.

The drone boats are part of the €740 million security assistance announced by US President Joe Biden on 13 April. They were to be used to defend coastal waters off Crimea, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told the press. In addition, the unmanned ships were to be deployed in the Sea of Azov, whose coasts – except for Mariupol – are now completely controlled by Russia. „US security assistance: Drone boats for Ukraine“ weiterlesen

British NGO: 26 countries have armed drones

Every year, Drone Wars UK counts the number of countries that have medium-altitude, long-endurance armed drones. Some of them, however, do not use them at all. Another six governments are planning to procure them, including Germany and Poland.

At least 26 states have so far procured armed drones or are manufacturing them themselves. Eleven of them have already used the systems in cross-border conflicts, and nine governments even fly attacks within their own borders. This is reported by the London-based organisation Drone Wars UK in its now published annual report.

The count only includes armed drones of medium altitude and long endurance (MALE), such as the „MQ-9 Reaper“ from the USA or the Turkish „Bayraktar TB2“. Not listed are states that use so-called kamikaze drones. These „loitering munitions“, which are also becoming increasingly popular with NATO states, are similar to a missile that can circle above its target before impact and swoop down on it at a favourable moment. The entire system is destroyed in the process. „British NGO: 26 countries have armed drones“ weiterlesen

Ukraine war: The age of loitering warheads is dawning

Initially, the Ukrainian military dominated the drone war against the Russian attackers, who are now striking back unmanned. Both sides are relying on a new drone weapon.

With the attack on Ukraine, the country has become the scene of a new drone war after Nagorno-Karabakh. Unmanned aerial vehicles of various sizes and capabilities are being deployed. Videos of unmanned armed combat are meant to boost the troops‘ and the population’s morale. Initially, Ukraine had the advantage, but now Russia is catching up.

In the current war, manufacturers from Turkey, the USA and Russia will benefit from the military success of their drones. Presumably, a market for smuggling baguette-sized armed drones will soon develop. The current battlefield also proves that drones from the electronics market are playing an increasingly important role in military conflicts. „Ukraine war: The age of loitering warheads is dawning“ weiterlesen

„Thin Blue Line“: German police divided on extremist iconography

An internal paper of the Bavarian Police problematises a symbol which stands for a conspiratorial community of solidarity. According to the paper, it is widespread in right-wing police circles and could violate the principle of neutrality and lead to disciplinary consequences. Not all police officers see it that way.

Earlier this year I reported on the handling of the so-called „Thin Blue Line“ (TBL) within the German police. For many officers, the symbol of this thin blue line on a black background signifies the protection of society from crime, violence and chaos, which, according to this reading, only they could provide. Others want it to be understood as a sign of solidarity and recognition of injured and killed colleagues. What all the different interpretations have in common is that the police see themselves as a conspiratorial community of solidarity.

The article was prompted by renewed statements by police authorities, in this case from Schleswig-Holstein and Rhineland-Palatinate, which referred positively to the blue and black symbolism over Christmas. The police in Mannheim subsequently deleted a corresponding tweet. „„Thin Blue Line“: German police divided on extremist iconography“ weiterlesen

Hypersonic weapons: All the hype about the new technology

Russia’s military had deployed a new offensive weapon, the Kinshal, for the first time. It is the harbinger of a new arms race in which China and North Korea are also leading the way.

Three weeks ago, the Russian air force attacked the village of Delyatin in western Ukraine with a Kinzhal („Dagger“) hypersonic missile, and another attack took place in the south of the country in the Mikolayiv region. So much for the undisputed facts; opinions differ as to whether an underground weapons depot was really hit in the west and a fuel depot in the south, and whether the Kinzhal is indeed a wonder weapon.

But it is also true that this was the first time the missile was used in combat operations after Russian President Vladimir Putin proudly presented it four years ago. The two hits were probably also intended as a gesture of superiority with regard to NATO missile defence. Putin thus made good on his threatening gesture that Russian hypersonic weapons would „hit like a meteorite, like a fireball“. „Hypersonic weapons: All the hype about the new technology“ weiterlesen

Information systems at Europol: Fishing the „data lake“ with a new dragnet

The EU police agency has completely restructured its information systems. German authorities are by far the main users for storage and query. Through a parliamentary question, the successor of Palantir software at Europol is now known.

The European Police Agency in The Hague has various databases, the largest of which is the centralised „Europol Information System“ (EIS). There, police forces of member states put suspects, convicts or „potential“ future criminals when the offences in question fall within Europol’s remit. These include serious or organised crime and terrorism.

For this, personal data, national insurance numbers and telephone numbers, e-mail or IP addresses, evidence can be stored in the EIS, including searchable facial images, non-coding DNA data and fingerprints. The member States retain ownership of the data they transfer, national authorities can determine the purpose for which it is used and set restrictions. „Information systems at Europol: Fishing the „data lake“ with a new dragnet“ weiterlesen

What’s the problem with the EU regulation on the release of electronic evidence?

The EU Parliament has accommodated the member states on crucial points, but now demands special attention to fundamental rights. The controversial question is how a state in which a company is based can object to an order.

The French EU Presidency wants to get things moving on the so-called E-Evidence dossier and has scheduled several meetings of the relevant Council working groups since January. However, the Member States and the Parliament have not yet been able to agree on essential points. Today, the issue is once again on the agenda of the meeting of Justice Ministers in Brussels.

Four years ago, the European Commission proposed a Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters. The law enforcement authorities of the member states want to oblige internet service providers that are not located in their own country to directly transmit data of their users. These direct contacts between states and companies would bypass the usual legal process. The regulation concerns inventory, traffic and content data. It also covers companies that are based in third countries but offer their services in the EU. For this purpose, they are to designate a „point of contact“ in an EU member state. „What’s the problem with the EU regulation on the release of electronic evidence?“ weiterlesen

Relaunch of the EU-US Migration Platform

Twice a year the USA and the EU want to meet to talk about migration and asylum policies

At their most recent meeting in Washington last December, the justice and interior ministers of the EU and the USA revived their „Migration Platform“, which had fallen asleep in 2015. The EU also launched a „migration platform“ with Canada in 2016.

Twice a year, the responsible EU-US ministries now want to exchange information on developments in their respective migration and asylum policies. These include the „the prevention of irregular migration, the „fight against migrant smuggling and human trafficking“ and „challenges arising from the situation in Afghanistan“. „Relaunch of the EU-US Migration Platform“ weiterlesen

China: Algorithm law for „positive energy“

The government in Beijing has passed a globally unique regulation for consumer protection on the internet

China installed a new law on Tuesday to rein in algorithms on the internet. The hitherto unique regulation covers applications that make further purchase or reading recommendations to their users based on their behaviour. In future, it will be forbidden to entice customers to excessively spend money or to make them dependent on an internet service. Software-based pricing, if it is to the detriment of consumers, will therefore also be prohibited. After all, operators must prevent fraud and unfair competition, as well as ensure that no false or illegal content is published. The apps should instead „promote positive energy“.

The law affects a wide range of companies, including internet marketplaces such as Alibaba, which has now become a mega-corporation with numerous integrated apps. Delivery service providers must also now revise their technology. The law furthermore addresses the social networks TikTok or Douyin, which are popular among young people and bombard their users with ever new content. „China: Algorithm law for „positive energy““ weiterlesen

„Thin blue line“: German police trainer warns against radicalisation

Police sometimes see themselves as the last „blue line“ against chaos and crime. Various police stations also tweet about this self-image, which is popular among right-wing officers. Websites where police employees  also participate sell patches, mugs and shirts with the problematic symbolism.

Several German police forces published tweets about the so-called „thin blue line“ over Christmas or referred to it in a positive way. The police in Kiel made the start after an action on Christmas Eve. All windows of the middle floor of the three-storey police station near the main railway station were illuminated in dark blue. A photo published on the internet names the night shift as the originator.

The Christmas greeting with the blue line appeared on the private website „Polizist=Mensch“ (translates to „Policeman=Human Being“). After being asked about it on Twitter, the Schleswig-Holstein State Police backed the action. The night shift had wanted to make clear that the police were also available „around the clock for everyone“ during the Christmas holidays. „„Thin blue line“: German police trainer warns against radicalisation“ weiterlesen