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 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 posted 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

Ukraine and Serbia are new European drone powers

Four European states now have armed drones, two of which already use them to combat „terrorism“. Another four might consider to weaponize units which have already been ordered, including Germany. All leading manufacturers of unmanned weapons systems from the USA, China, Turkey and Israel could then be represented in Europe.

The Serbian government has received a delivery of armed drones from China. Six CH-92A („Rainbow“) drones and 18 air-to-ground missiles arrived at a military airport near Belgrade a few days ago, according to local media.

The two systems are comprised of three drones each and the respective ground stations. Serbia had ordered a total of nine drones, which together are said to have cost around 27 million Euros. According to reports, a follow-up order for a further 15 drones has been agreed. „Ukraine and Serbia are new European drone powers“ weiterlesen

Iron will for unmanned air strikes

The German Bundeswehr discussed with members of parliament about the use of armed drones, but did not talk about their missiles

The German Ministry of Defense has ended its „drone debate“ and submitted a report to the Bundestag with arguments for arming the ordered Israeli „Heron TP“. Thus, only a Bundestag decision is now standing in the way of the procurement. This was preceded by a largely virtual series of events in the military Bendlerblock and in the Bundestag, at which above all supporters of the German drone programme had their say. „Iron will for unmanned air strikes“ 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

Clearview AI: What does Interpol use face recognition for?

The International Police Organisation is developing a system to identify unknown persons by facial images. Interpol stores photos and videos from Internet service providers and other companies in a separate database. Interpol has also been using Clearview services for face recognition.

The US company Clearview AI has collected around three billion personal images from the Internet and used them to create a facial recognition database. This was reported in the New York Times six weeks ago. Most of the pictures were taken from social media profile photos, and it is likely that Clearview will also store the corresponding user data. Clearview offers companies and government agencies the option of identifying individuals by querying the database. According to reports, the facial images can also be searched with a photo app, which according to the New York Times is distributed among „rich people“.

The U.S. magazine Buzzfeed has obtained a client list from Clearview. It contains over 2,200 companies, governments and police authorities, including Interpol. The worldwide police organization has conducted more than 320 searches. „Clearview AI: What does Interpol use face recognition for?“ weiterlesen

Upgrade for the Schengen Information System

The European Union is restructuring its police database landscape. Existing systems are being merged and supplemented by new ones. The number of authorised users is also increasing. Following technical changes, the relevant Council working groups are now being reorganised.

The European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA) has carried out an upgrade for the Schengen Information System (SIS II). With version 9.3.0, the database managed by the Agency based in Tallinn, technically implements its three new regulations. In future, Europol, Eurojust and Frontex will also be able to query all types of alerts in the system, including „discreet searches“.

A total of 26 EU Member States participate in SIS II, plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Last year, the database contained 81 million objects and around 900 thousand persons. In 2017, most entries (20 million) came from Italy, followed by France (11 million) and Germany (over 10 million). In 2017, the system was queried five billion times, mostly by border, police and immigration authorities. In 2018, the number of hits rose to six billion, according to eu-LISA. „Upgrade for the Schengen Information System“ weiterlesen

Europol Study: Disclosure of electronic evidence often fails due to incompetence of authorities

The planned EU e-Evidence regulation is intended to force Internet service providers to cooperate more with police and judicial authorities. However, a survey shows that the companies already comply with their requests voluntarily. But they are often incorrect and thus rejected.

The police from Germany, France and Great Britain request by far the most data from Internet service providers. This is the result of a study by the SIRIUS project, which Europol has published on its website. 38% of all requests (67,991) come from German authorities. Although the so-called G6 countries (Germany, France, the UK, Poland, Spain and Italy) represent half of the EU population, their authorities are responsible for around 90% of crossborder internet surveillance activities.

The SIRIUS platform located at the police agency Europol in The Hague is intended to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on electronic evidence. Via a secure connection, authorities in all EU member states can obtain information on how to query Internet service providers. This applies to traffic, user and content data, which are released in different ways. SIRIUS also contains instructions for „Open Source Internet Searches“ (OSINT) and for conducting queries on user data from various service providers. This enables the persons behind IP addresses or mail accounts to be determined. „Europol Study: Disclosure of electronic evidence often fails due to incompetence of authorities“ weiterlesen

Drone power Turkey

For many years, only the USA, Israel and Great Britain used armed drones. Now Turkey is ahead in the everyday use and sale of the weapons.

Last week, the government in Ankara transferred an armed drone to Northern Cyprus. This makes Turkey one of those countries whose military is stationing drones outside its territory. The „Bayraktar TB2“ had landed at the Geçitkale military airport near Famagusta after a five-hour flight from a Turkish air base in Dalaman. This was preceded by a permit from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. According to the Turkish government, unarmed drones were also flown to Famagusta for reconnaissance, and according to Turkish newspapers, more will follow.

The „Bayraktar TB2“ is intended to secure Turkish gas drillings off the island, which has been divided since 1974, and to exert pressure on Cyprus and Greece, which are claiming gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean. The move is also likely to be directed against Israel after the Turkish navy intercepted an Israeli research vessel recently. Turkish Transportation Minister Tolga Atakan described the deployment as a reaction to the purchase of Israeli drones by Cyprus. To monitor its exclusive economic zone, the government in Nicosia had purchased four „Aerostar“ drones from the company Aeronautics for 13 million euros in October. With a take-off weight of 230 kilograms, they are significantly lighter than the „Bayraktar TB2“, but with a payload of 50 kilograms they carry a similar payload. Both drones have a range of around 200 kilometres. „Drone power Turkey“ weiterlesen

Frontex stations long-endurance drones in the Mediterranean Sea

For the next two years, the EU Commission is looking for an operator of large drones at airports in Malta, Italy or Greece. They should remain in the air for at least 20 hours and carry up to 230 kilograms of surveillance equipment. The high requirements are likely to lead to a competition between companies from the USA and Israel.

The new Frontex regulation came into force on 4 December. The border agency of the European Union wants to build up a „Standing Corps“ of 10,000 police officers by 2027. In this way, Frontex is to become a „European Border Police“ and will be given powers that were previously reserved for the EU member states. The agency, based in Warsaw, can now conduct its own operations and use police coercive measures. This affects joint operations at the EU’s external borders as well as deportations. „Frontex stations long-endurance drones in the Mediterranean Sea“ weiterlesen

New agreements: European Union wants to expand use of passenger data

The EU Parliament is to deal with a new agreement on the exchange of passenger data with Canada. So far, PNR agreements exist only with the USA and Australia, but now the EU Commission also wants to negotiate with Japan. Others could follow after the International Civil Aviation Organization adopts new standards.

The member states of the European Union want to conclude a further agreement on the transmission and use of passenger data. A proposal to start negotiations with Japan was published by the EU Commission in September, and the EU interior ministers intend to adopt it at their next meeting in Brussels at the beginning of December. The EU Parliament will not be involved, the MEPs can only vote on the negotiated treaty. „New agreements: European Union wants to expand use of passenger data“ weiterlesen