WORLD: Telegram is a Dubai-based service that promises anonymity and thus protects against criminal prosecution. Is it true that he has now released user data to the BKA for the first time?
Holger Münch: Telegram implements our suggestions for deleting criminal content to a large extent. So far, however, our inquiries about user data have only been answered in a few outstanding cases. In a constitutional state, however, service providers are not allowed to decide what is criminally prosecuted and what is not.
WORLD: If services continue to refuse, would the ultima ratio be a shutdown?
Münch: It must be clear that there is already an obligation to provide timely information. If this is not complied with, one could, for example, react with appropriate fines.
WORLD: In February, a new control authority for the Internet should start, the Central Reporting Office for criminal content located at the BKA. Why didn’t that work?
Münch: Some social media providers have filed a lawsuit against the obligation to report under the Network Enforcement Act and obtained an injunction. Therefore, in order to start anyway, we have meanwhile brought together parts of the decentralized reporting structures that already exist in the federal states to combat hate and hate speech on the Internet centrally at the BKA. We also work with non-governmental organizations here. At the same time, we are preparing for the entry into force of the European Digital Service Act and are establishing the processes that we need as the central reporting point for the German police to combat hate and hate speech on the Internet.
WORLD: Up to 200 employees are to be entrusted with this task in the central office. What do you expect from this?
Münch: Our task as the central reporting office is to check the digital reports for criminal relevance and possible risk aspects, to identify the alleged author if possible and then to hand over the facts to the locally responsible law enforcement authorities in the federal states for further processing. In this way, we hope to be able to process hate crimes online quickly and efficiently and, as a result, also to change behavior.
WORLD: The European Court of Justice ruled in April that the controversial data retention may be used to fight serious crime. Should this be used in Germany?
Münch: For us, the IP addresses in particular are an important lead in order to be able to identify criminals in the digital space at all – often they even represent the only investigative approach. At the moment, however, the telecommunications companies usually keep the information on the IP address for a maximum of one week – often even just a few days before. We would be happy if there were a minimum storage period of ten weeks for IP addresses in Germany.
WORLD: Laws are one thing, the infrastructure is another. The goal of aligning and modernizing police IT between the federal and state governments has not yet been achieved. What’s the problem?
Münch: We have to get out of the federal patchwork quilt with a multitude of different applications and into a uniform IT platform solution. Information and digital solutions must be made available there for all police authorities. This is a highly complex project.
WORLD: The “Digitization Police 2040” program is currently running in North Rhine-Westphalia. Don’t you think that sounds a little like St. Never’s Day?
Münch: The idea of the nationwide “Program 2020” was proclaimed six years ago. Preparations were complete in 2020. Now the train is rolling. The first unified applications are ready and will be made available in stages. A central data house for the federal and state governments is planned, in which jointly used applications will store the data. The aim is for information to be made available, compared and exchanged more quickly, so that the relevant information is quickly available to every police officer.
WORLD: When should this data house be ready?
Münch: Not only should the data house be in operation by 2030, the central applications should also be more standardized and upgraded in order to save in this data house.
WORLD: In crime statistics, the importance of analog crimes is decreasing. Is the classic bank robbery dying out?
Münch: Crime is shifting. In areas of property crime, the number of cases has fallen by around 37 percent over the past ten years, while cybercrime offenses have more than doubled since 2015. So, firstly, there is a shift towards digital crime. Second, the amount of data is getting bigger and bigger. And thirdly, the perpetrators network much more closely. Today there are much looser criminal structures that come together online and often anonymously. This then also leads to a large number of cases arising from a single complex. One example is the series of cases of sexualized violence against children in North Rhine-Westphalia, such as recently in Wermelskirchen.
WORLD: When will the 320,000 police officers in Germany have mobile access to the information anytime, anywhere, and how will the digital police officer be equipped in the future?
Münch: There is no day X for that, it is a process. Also, there isn’t just one police officer. At the BKA, for example, we have summarized various functions and activities in equipment profiles. For example, if you get a smartphone or a laptop for mobile work. With this standardization, we can implement the necessary equipment quickly and in a targeted manner. Because a BKA bodyguard needs different equipment than a cybercrime investigator. And for police officers who are deployed on patrol, it is about quickly capturing personal data or fingerprints on the go and being able to query data on site at any time.