Does video surveillance need to be expanded in Germany?


Berlin –

The President of the Federal Criminal Police Office, Holger Munch, calls for improvements in video surveillance in Germany. “There is a fundamental need for action from a law enforcement perspective on video surveillance,” he said. How many cameras are installed in public places nationwide is not recorded anywhere.

What is Munch’s criticism of today’s practice?

“Today, for example in the case of refugee movements across federal states, existing material must first be collected nationwide,” said Munch. “It is usually available in very different formats and on a wide variety of data carriers.” Before the inspection, processing steps are required. “This often takes a lot of valuable time. In other countries in Europe, centralized storage of public video surveillance makes it much faster and more efficient. ”

The federal chairman of the German Police Union (DPolG), Rainer Wendt, admitted that the evaluation of the material involved a “certain effort”, especially when it came to recording cameras from private operators. But “no clarification will fail in any case”.

What do privacy advocates say about the move?

Ulrich Kelber (SPD) is the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information. According to a spokesman, his authority is opposed to blanket and blanket video surveillance because it could restrict citizens’ rights. In particular, he spoke out against the central storage and evaluation of data obtained from video surveillance nationwide, as requested by BKA President Munch.

What about monitoring the region?

Video surveillance around Cologne Central Station and in the building was renewed and massively expanded after the 2015/2016 New Year’s attacks. There are currently a total of 44 cameras around the train station, cathedral and on the party mile. 32 cameras have been installed on Ebertplatz, Neumarkt, Breslauer Platz and Wiener Platz in the past few months. Especially at Ebertplatz you can see that the drug dealers have withdrawn after installing the cameras. The police are monitoring the situation, but are currently not planning to expand video surveillance.

There is currently no video observation of the public space in Bonn. The Bonn police are currently preparing a concept for this and have purchased two mobile camera systems that offer a 360-degree all-round view. They are to be used as part of the security measures at critical locations: Hofgarten, Friedensplatz, Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz, Brassertufer, probably this year.

Does automatic face recognition come?

Video surveillance has recently been the subject of heated debate because Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) also wanted to create the legal basis for automatic facial recognition. But then he put the plans on ice again. The new video systems are designed to recognize people whose photos are stored in a police database, so to speak.

The deputy head of the police union (GdP), JOrg Radek, pleads for the legal basis for the technology to be created. “After all, we are looking for the same people with facial recognition software who are already legally verifiable in the police wanted inventory and are being searched for legal reasons.” Wendt also wants the system.

What objections do critics have?

In the Bundestag, the FDP and the Greens vehemently spoke out against automatic facial recognition. Ulrich Kelber, the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, also rejects them.

In addition to the general data protection concerns, the limited reliability also gives rise to criticism: In a test at Berlin’s Sudkreuz train station in July 2018, 0.67 percent of the people filmed were misidentified in the first phase, 0.34 percent in a second phase. If you extrapolate this for a large train station such as Cologne Central Station (350,000 travelers per day), 1200 to 2400 people per day would be wrongly identified as suspects.

The Ministry of the Interior calculates differently: By combining different systems, the proportion of incorrect hits can be reduced to 0.00018 percent “and thus to an infinitesimally low level,” it said in a message to the Berlin test. GdP Vice Radek nevertheless believes that, if necessary, “one should wait to use the technology if an acceptable error rate cannot be guaranteed”. Munch did not comment on the topic. The DPolG chairman Wendt praised the results of the test as “excellent”. Even if someone is wrongly filtered out as a suspect, “it does not mean that GSG 9 comes automatically and people are wrestled to the ground”. (Dpa / ta / kmu)

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