NSU 2.0 affair: Hesse’s police check data queries with vein scanners

In the fight against improper data queries via IT systems of the police, which came into the public eye especially in the course of NSU 2.0 threatening letters to well-known personalities, the Hessian Ministry of the Interior is now relying on vein scanners. The state police are testing the use of biometric recognition technology with five devices on the station in Rüsselsheim, declared the Hessian Interior Minister Peter Beuth (CDU) and the new state police president Roland Ullmann on Thursday at the opening of an “Innovation Hub 110” in Frankfurt.

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The relevant pilot project will initially run in real operation until the end of the year and is then expected to be expanded. Last month, Beuth presented a catalog of measures to better seal the sensitive police databases and to log access to them more closely. At that time it was initially said that in the medium to long term two-factor authentication should be introduced using biometric fingerprints or a “token code on the personal smartphone”.

“We take the allegations that have arisen against the police in recent months very seriously,” stressed Ullmann now. A high availability of data also means a high degree of responsibility. “The verification of the identity by means of a biometric method with the hand vein scanner is already considered very secure,” said the police chief. The devices, designed like a computer mouse, enabled users to log on to the computer by laying on their hands in fractions of a second or to unlock the screen again.

In addition, officials would have to enter their individual identification into the “police information system” (Polas), explained Ullmann. That a workplace can be used by several investigators at the same time should be made more difficult.

Manufacturers market vein scanners as high security technology. The Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has already succeeded in overcoming the detection processes of such devices with comparatively simple means such as wax and common cameras.

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) also wanted to have it checked “whether access to police databases with biometric features enables better protection”. A spokesman for the Berlin police, who received a reprimand from the state data protection officer Maja Smoltczyk because of alleged illegal queries and the resulting right-wing extremist death threats, stated to heise online: A biometric authentication does not exist with the Poliks master system there “and is currently not planned”. The daily police work is so diverse that “it is difficult to establish meaningful criteria that define a query as improper”. However, official data protection officers regularly carried out checks that were not suspected of being suspected.


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