Thematic focus: Private prosecutors

Private and state investigators – an introduction
by Norbert Pütter
The private security market is not restricted to patrol and watch services. In the context of increasing industry interest in security, the focus has turned to investigative activities executed either by in-house security departments and/or external service providers. The private contractor thereby decides the cause of the „investigation” and decides whether its results lead to charges being filed. There is, however, no contradiction in the relation between private and state security. Rather, different forms of cooperation and information exchange exist, which are sometimes legally fixed and at other times result from informal connections. The area of „grey policing”, whereby industry and state interest overlap, represents a serious threat.

The data scandal at the Deutsche Bahn AG
by Albrecht Maurer
In order to uncover possible corruption, the German national railway Deutsche Bahn started screenings of more than 100.000 employees and matching their data with that of partner firms on a regular basis since the end of 1990s – without the knowledge of the workers’ council or its data protection officer. The company contracted private investigators to spy on employees and controlled their e-mail traffic to identify internal critics. This huge scandal faded after top personnel were exchanged. The basic problem, namely, that a privatised company engages in internal investigations largely according to its own rules, remains.

Public Private Partnership in video surveillance
by Eric Töpfer
Although direct video surveillance by the police is limited in Germany, opaque surveillance webs are emerging as the police are seeking access to other systems. The Football World Cup in 2006 was a catalyst for the technical networking of non-police CCTV systems with police command centres. But as this kind of networking proves to be expensive and inflexible in face of various police demands, informal cooperation is practised in which officers visit CCTV control rooms to exploit their surveillance capacities. These public private partnerships are not without conflicts; the key problem, however, is that they are unaccountable to those under surveillance.

Open Source Intelligence in a see-through world
by Ben Hayes
The internet has created new possibilities for the collection and analysis of intelligence. The border between open and undercover sources increasingly dissolves. At the same time a process of outsourcing can be observed: Open Source Intelligence is an increasingly profitable business of private enterprises, which are scarcely bound by regulations. They can, however, count on the support and interest of EU security institutions and EU Members States.

Business and the state as „security partners”
by Randalf Neubert
In March 2006, the Federal Criminal Authority (Bundeskriminalamt) started its „Global Player Initiative” and exchanging information with security departments of big corporations. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) also cooperates in cases of economic espionage. Similar partnerships exist at the regional level. What really happens in these networks of state security and private industry is not known to the public.

Privatised security in the global context
by Norbert Pütter
New transnational actors start appearing in the security market: policing for profit encompasses security consultancies, who draft risk assessment reports for large corporations but also engage in private investigations, as well as forensic accountants and military service providers. Their transnational nature increases the problems: lack of transparency for the public, lack of legal and political control, dependency on contractors and – in varying constellations – working with, beside or against state security apparatuses.

Non-thematic articles:

Review: „The road towards the security society”
by Wolf-Dieter Nar
Criminal law professor Peter Alexis Albrecht has published a volume containing 49 essays reflecting his own political and scientific biography as well as the history of criminal law, prosecution and punishment in the Federal Republic from 1970 until the present. They address the criminal law of the welfare state and the unfulfilled hope to implement human rights also in the penal system; the change towards the state of prevention in the 1980s and 1990s and finally the shift towards a security society in which democratic legal definitions are increasingly blurred. Albrecht helplessly advises „absolutist regulations that are critical of the state” against these developments.

Protests against nuclear waste
by Elke Steven
In November 2010, shortly after the federal government extended the run-time of Germany’s nuclear power stations, a new transport of highly radioactive waste from the reprocessing plant in France to the intermediate disposal facility in Gorleben took place. The Committee for Fundamental Rights and Democracy (Komitee für Grundrechte und Demokratie) followed the protests against the transport and monitored police conduct.

DNA database network with some constructional flaws
by Eric Töpfer
According to the Prüm Decision passed by the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the linking of national DNA databases of all 27 EU Member States should be finalised by 26 August 2011. This project, however, is facing a series of administrative, legal and particularly technical barriers. It is time to draw a critical balance regarding the breath-taking extension of globalised biometric control.