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Left Party of Germany

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Co-rapporteurs on Albania welcome justice reform and encourage further reforms

Following their visit to Albania from 26 to 30 October 2016, Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL) and Joseph O'Reilly (Ireland, EPP/CD), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Albania, welcomed the ongoing justice reform.

The co-rapporteurs applauded the adoption of the constitutional amendments paving the way for a thorough and comprehensive reform of the judiciary. Referring to Resolution 2019 (2014), the co-rapporteurs recalled that the insufficient independence and impartiality of the judiciary and the political pressure and interference had been longstanding concerns of the Assembly.

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New EU network of judicial authorities to combat the “challenges stemming from encryption”

By Matthias Monroy

The European Union intends to simplify investigative authorities’ access to encrypted content. This emerged from the replies to a questionnaire that was circulated to all Member States by the Slovak Presidency of the EU Council. After a “reflection process”, efforts in this area are, according to the summary of the replies, intended to give rise to a framework for cooperation with Internet providers. It remains unclear whether this will take the form ofa recommendation, regulation or directive.

The replies to the questionnaire are now being examined by the Friends of the Presidency Group on Cyber Issues (FoP Cyber), which also held discussions on “increasing tendencies to exploit encrypted communication in order to hide criminal activities, identities and crime scenes”. Those taking part included the European External Action Service, the European Defence Agency and other EU institutions. FoP Cyber’s recommendations will then be addressed at the meeting of the next Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels.

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Bundeswehr drone projects: further delays to Global Hawk, Euro Hawk and Triton systems

By Matthias Monroy

The US company Northrop Grumman is constructing several derivatives of the Global Hawk drone, including the Euro Hawk, which was once prized by the Bundeswehr, and its successor model Triton. NATO is procuring five Global Hawk drones, which are to be stationed in Sicily. They are scheduled to have initial capability from the end of 2017.

Five Global Hawk high-altitude drones are currently being procured and will be stationed in Sigonella, Sicily, as part of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) programme. These drones will be deployed for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes in the context of NATO missions. Their express focus is on flights in countries bordering Russia. All NATO member states are required to provide financial assistance for the programme to the tune of an estimated 70 million euros annually. The first procurement is only being financed by a handful of member states, however. The majority of the costs of around 1.45 billion euros is being met by the US (42 per cent), Germany (33 per cent) and Italy (15 per cent). The 13 countries involved in these procurements include the three Baltic states, as well as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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German Federal Criminal Police Office trains secret services in Egypt on monitoring extremism on the Internet

By Matthias Monroy

The Federal Ministry of the Interior is stepping up its cooperation with Egypt in spite of persecution against the opposition, abuse, torture and death sentences. What is more, the Federal Criminal Police Office is cooperating with two notorious intelligence services. The focus here is on “extremism” and “terrorism”, two labels that have been used to justify the incarceration of thousands of moderate members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is training Egyptian security authorities on Internet surveillance with a range of measures. The Federal Ministry of the Interior disclosed this information in its reply to a minor interpellation, according to which a further workshop on “monitoring websites” is scheduled to take place in December. The focus is on websites “that are abused by terrorists in order to disseminate their extremist ideology and to plan terrorist attacks”. No information has been provided on which forms and instruments are being used for monitoring purposes. The training measures also include financial investigations into bank accounts and transfers.

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New powers for the German Federal Police: undercover agents to combat unwanted migration

By Matthias Monroy

In the future, the Federal Police will also be able to deploy undercover agents. The provision is part of the new “Act to Improve Information Exchange in the Fight Against International Terrorism”, which the Grand Coalition adopted on 24 June 2016 and the parliamentary groups of the opposition voted against. 

The version amended by the Committee on Internal Affairs which was finally adopted states that the deployment of undercover agents has now become “indispensible and long overdue”   for the central policing duties the Federal Police has assumed for 20 years now. In the debate over the bill, the President of the Federal Police, Dieter Romann, also spoke out. In a statement submitted late  he cited the phenomenon of “illegal migration” as justification for the need for statutory undercover threat-prevention powers. He stated that the Federal Police was no longer in a position to sufficiently counter the tactics of “smuggler organisations” “using traditional, conventional methods”. “People smugglers” acted “highly conspiratorially, with division of labour, shielding themselves from police actions to a large degree”. Witnesses and victims, he claimed, were “intimidated with violence or coerced into giving false evidence”. “The most deaths”, he said, were in the area of organised crime, which “illegal people smuggling” is subsumed under. For this reason the preventive deployment of undercover agents by the Federal Police was a “tactical requirement”. This included, he went on, “discretionary investigations”. Such a possibility existed in almost all of the police laws of the Länder, or federal states, (with the exception of Schleswig-Holstein) and in the Federal Criminal Police Office Act and had proven successful.

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The United Kingdom will have to withdraw from Europol by next spring

By Matthias Monroy

The Treaty of Amsterdam gives the United Kingdom the right to decide on its involvement in EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case-by-case basis (opt-in/opt-out). Alongside police and judicial cooperation on criminal matters, this applies to the external borders, asylum, migration and cooperation on civil matters. Thus, the United Kingdom opted out of the Blue Card Directive, the Directive on the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents and the Directive on the return of third-country nationals, for example. This means that the authorities cannot access the Visa Information System.

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Bundeswehr armed drones will be equipped with Israeli missiles and use German encryption

By Matthias Monroy

Airbus is to be the prime contractor for the German-Israeli drone deal. The company will then own 13 old and new Heron drones for the Bundeswehr’s use. The arming of the drones would be guaranteed from the spring of 2019. Now a competitor, US drone manufacturer General Atomics, has lodged a complaint with the federal public procurement tribunal.

The armed German drones will be delivered with the Israeli manufacturer’s usual munitions, the Federal Government revealed in its answer to a Minor Interpellation. The Heron TP drones are to be equipped with the weapons which are integrated into the system by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for the Israeli Air Force. IAI itself produces laser-guided air-to-surface missiles, for example.

Until now, it was unclear whether the five planned drones would be equipped with guided bombs or missiles produced by European manufacturers. According to the Federal Government’s most recent answer, this was not considered at any point in time, and so no market surveys or studies were carried out.

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Exposure of three undercover policewomen in Hamburg

By Matthias Monroy

In three successive years, undercover policewomen from the Hamburg Criminal Police Office have been unmasked by activists. Their assignments included cases with international connections.

At least two of the officers also maintained sexual or intimate relationships with their targets or informers. This was the subject of several meetings of Hamburg’s internal-affairs authorities and of internal police enquiries.[1]

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Airbus arms firm leads consortium for European combat-drone project

By Matthias Monroy

The German Ministry of Defence has named Airbus as the main contractor for a two-year study for a European long-range armed drone. The contract is due to be signed before the summer recess, and work is to begin in September. The total cost of the project exceeds one billion euros.

The German Federal Ministry of Defence is fleshing out the procurement plans for armable long-range drones. Under the direction of Airbus Defence and Space (ADAS), a division of the Airbus group, an initial definition study for a ‘European MALE RPAS’ is to be conducted. The abbreviations stand for ‘medium-altitude long-endurance’ and ‘remotely piloted aircraft system’, which describe the drone and its guidance and reconnaissance-data processing systems.

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First child pornography, now extremism: Internet providers and police investigation authorities to use Microsoft upload filters

by Matthias Monroy 

Material uploaded onto the Web could soon be scanned for extremist or radicalising content with an upload filter produced by Microsoft. The filter would be installed in the systems of Internet service providers (ISPs), but the necessary databases could be held by the police authorities.

Two weeks ago in Washington, the international Counter Extremism Project presented a software solution with which extremist content is said to be detectable on upload. The process is based on PhotoDNA, an application originally developed by Microsoft to combat child pornography. It is able to detect video and audio content. The recognition rate is reportedly in the region of 98%.

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