Modern Surveillance Technology
by Detlef Nogala
Bugging operations, forensic DNA-databases, video-surveillance of public space – ongoing debates in many countries about new police initiatives and accompanying legal extensions of authority point to the fact, that organised social control in late modern societies has become a matter of adopting new technology’s full potentials. This introductory article discusses some general theoretical aspects of the burgeoning use of surveillance technology in policing. In conclusion it is argued, that surveillance technology could not exclusively be seen from a instrumental point of view, but rather has to be considered as a genuine political matter because it carries certain visions of social order in itself.
by Thilo Weichert
Audio-visual surveillance looks back on a long tradition in Germany. In the 1950’s key traffic points and intersections were equipped with special surveillance towers, complete with television cameras for tracking the flow of traffic. Today, we are confronted with television camera surveillance on the part of the police or private security services also capable of audio recording throughout the public and semi-public sphere: in banks, on subway and rail platforms, in tunnels, etc. Some cities such as Leipzig even provide television camera surveillance of areas with high crime rates. This omnipresent audio-visual surveillance leads to increasing displacement of crime and a general decrease in the sense of individual responsibility for reporting crimes. The victims of such policies are disenfranchised groups such as the homeless, substance dependents and adolescents at risk. New pattern recognition systems of audio and visual data will make it possible in the foreseeable future to match millions and millions of potential matching patterns in extremely short periods of time. Counterstrategies aimed at protecting constitutional rights to privacy are nowhere in sight.
The Leading Edge at the Border: Technical Arms Buildup for Bastion Europe
by Heiner Busch
More and more Europe’s outer borders are being equipped with the most modern technology available in an effort to seal them off from the influx of refugees. Night sighting devices, radar and CO2 gas detection devices as well as document analysis scanners and fingerprint databanks have become key elements of the standard arsenal available at border control points throughout Western Europe. The article provides a survey of the newest technological developments aimed at sealing off Europe’s borders from undesired intruders.
The Surveillance Spiral of Telecommunication
by Ingo Ruhmann
The expansion of telecommunication industry during the past decades has also led to a major increase in the potential for numerous forms of surveillance. The availability of computers and the attendant digitalization of telecommunications led not only to the rise of new communication services, it has also expanded the scope of surveillance activities far beyond the contents of messages or data transmissions and encompasses such phenomena as data on the individual’s environment, the individual’s given location or an individual’s identity. Since 1995 German legislators have entered into a race to adapt telecommunication laws to the constantly changing expansion of telecommunication technologies and market liberalization. The stated goal of the federal government is “securing complete and total surveillance of telecommunications“.
by Norbert Pütter
Over the past several years the scope of police wiretapping in Germany has witnessed considerable growth rates. The statistical data collected and published on the total number of wiretap orders, the number of persons subject to wiretaps, the number of phones and calls provides us with merely a vague indications of the real scope of telephone wiretapping in Germany. Neither the security bureaucracies, nor high level politicians appear to have the slightest interest in informing the public of the real extent of these intrusions into the secrecy of telephone conversations.
The Electronic Surveillance of Prisoners
by Rita Haverkamp
Since 1997 an intensive debate over the pros and cons of introducing electronic surveillance devices for prisoners which would allow them to serve their prison terms at home or at other approved locations such as the workplace has captured the public interest: The Federal Council (Bundesrat) has prepared draft legislation, the Federal Minister of Justice has set up a commission to study the problem and some of the German states have declared their intent to subject the ‘electronic shackle’ to a test phase. The article begins with a historical review of the development of the device and traces the course of the discussion in the Federal Republic of Germany. The fact that the positions within the same political parties differ considerably and even contradict one another is interpreted as an indication of the fact that the public debate over the ‘electronic shackle’ is still in its preliminary stages in Germany.
“We, the citizen as security risk”
by Wolf-Dieter Narr
The author was the editor of a book under the same title back in 1997. At that time civil rights got in jeopardy because of the political climate following the armed confrontation between the RAF-group and state forces. The article describes the rise of a ‘System of Interior Security’ focusing on new preventive strategies and the part technological options played in this development. It is argued, that on one hand the current technological innovations in policing could be seen as a kind of déjà vu, because the police has been keen to utilize new instruments for its purposes since ever. On the other side modern police technology can indeed make a qualitative difference in terms of civil rights. Although the author finds grounds to see things in relative terms he argues for a critical awareness of the development and concludes with some recommendations for the political agenda.
Expansion of General Authority Clauses by the Police
by Fredrik Roggan
The general authority clauses give the police the legal authorization for action in those cases where no specific regulation exists for such an incident or activity in police laws. Using current examples, the author demonstrates how the police illegally make use of these general authority clauses in cases where the special regulatory standards do not cover the activity or measure. He cites the example of the police in Bremen who placed certain areas simply off limits or the use of undercover agents to conduct so-called danger research. The result is an increase in police intervention in general.
Confidential Informers Behind Bars
Confessions of an Anonymous Cell-mate
Confidential informers are basically men and women from the criminal sub-culture or persons who have at least access to it and who simultaneously cooperate with the police. Due to this potential collision of interests it is more than likely, that confidential informers run into conflict with the law. As soon as the police can no longer conceal their criminal activities, they land in prison. The author describes the role played by confidential informers in jails and prisons based on his own experience: They use their terms in jail or prison to establish contacts with those persons they can turn over to the police once they are released from jail or prison and enjoy privileged treatment from prison authorities as auxiliary contributors to the maintenance of order in these institutions.
Police Shooting Fatalities 1997
by Otto Diederichs
The official statistics released by the Conference of Germany’s Ministers of the Interior on fatal police shooting in 1997 once again differ from the figures released by CILIP. According to the official statistics there were a total of 10 fatal police shooting incidents. By contrast, CILIP counted a total of 12 fatal incidents due to the fact that CILIP also counts those incidents which occurred accidentally. During the same period there was one fatal shooting incident by a customs investigator and an additional fatal shooting by a member of the military police of the US armed forces.