On Thursday, about 1200 people demonstrated in Leipzig for Khaled Idris Bahray, an Eritrean refugee who was seemingly murdered by neo nazis after a Pegida demonstration. The Dresden police have been implicatedin a cover up of his murder, and will soon be under investigation as a result of a complaint filed by a Green MP.
During the demonstration, there were some clashes between demonstrators and police, and eventually a smaller portion of the protest was kettled. Police let the protestors go, but not before collecting all of their cell phones. This was seemingly illegal, and police have yet to explain their actions.
The clear motive for this is surveillance. Not only do the police have software to extract data – such as social media networks, text messages, contact lists, and other personal information –from cell phones, but they also may intend to plant bugs in the phones which were confiscated. German activists on Indymedia have suggested that anyone who had their phone taken and returned by the police get rid of the device entirely, including any SIM cards. Encryption is always a good precaution, but it’s not foolproof. One activist on Indymedia said
Numerous tools can be used to allegedly crack encryption. Phones can be cracked by German authorities using a “Universal Forensics Extraction Device” (UFED), which the Israeli company Cellebrite used. This is a complete system in which a phone must be simply connected to, for it to read the data. The manufacturer calls it “a complete solution for logical and physical extraction of existing, encrypted, and deleted phone data”. But to what extent the decryption succeeds is unclear. The system transmits queue call logs, SMS messages and contact lists. Password cracking is also possible with “Passware KitForensic,” which is used in the United States or “Distributed Password Recovery” which is used by Russia. Android systems can be read with the Swiss software “Lantern” or “Extraction Wizard,” a Swedish company.
It’s important to know that it is possible to encrypt Android cell phones with Customrom, but storing numbers in the address book is always unsafe. The Android phone should also have a removable battery. Eventually it seems the only option will be to have “burner” or “throwaway” phones to use at actions, but that would be monumentally expensive, so the fight for secure data encryption continues.
Demonstrations for Khaled are ongoing, there was also a demonstration in Bochum last night. Also, activists have released a promotional video for the Saturday action in Dresden, and there will be a Sunday “funeral march” in Berlin.