European Cooperation in
Emergency Communication and Terrorism Prevention

Arthur A. Jones, J.D., Dr.jur.
Robin Wiseman, J.D., Dr.h.c.

International Human Rights Law and Policy
c/o Los Angeles Community Policing
email to:

June 11, 2003

Prepared for:

..........Performance Investment Fund (PIF) Advisory Committee,
..........Emergency Communications & Information Technology Project
..........County of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department
..........Leroy D. Baca, Sheriff
..........Dr. Richard Weintraub, Director, Professional Development Bureau

Preliminary Notes


European Cooperation in
Emergency Communication
and Terrorism Prevention


The purpose of this brief synopsis is to illustrate the direction our research is presently taking and to invite Committee members to submit their thoughts and suggestions for future research of new or innovative approaches in foreign jurisdictions that may be wholly or partly replicable domestically. In fact, the following materials comprise merely an introductory “once over”.

I. International Information Exchange Standards

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 prompted European countries to feverish efforts to enlarge the scope and capabilities of their international cooperation in surveillance and information sharing.

In establishing new and efficient surveillance standards, European governments and police agencies have benefited greatly from their association with OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), not least because it represents a consensus of practice among foremost Information Technology producers, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency.

Early last February, OASIS announced the formation of a subcommittee to produce technical frameworks for global exchange of data and to enable police organizations to cooperate in a worldwide anti-terrorist surveillance and information sharing exercise. The goal is to join police agencies horizontally (law enforcement, investigative agencies and intelligence-gathering groups), as well as vertically (Standards for initiation and execution of surveillance measures, and for protecting privacy and other civil liberties while disseminating classified information to legally authorized persons and entities).

The subcommittee, named LI-XML (Lawful Interception eXtended Markup Language) will devise solutions and standards in conformity with present international treaties and regulations, including the Homeland Security Information Sharing Act of 2002 and the Second Supplementary Protocoll to the Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

Although LI-XML is not intended to serve as an electronic panacea, its proponents in law enforcement feel it will result in greater interoperability and public trust in the traditionally sensitive area of legal discovery.

In Italy, XML was recently adopted officially by the Autorità per l’Informatica nella Pubblica Amministrazione (AIPA) for law enforcement agencies, courts and prosecutors. The rationale is that XML creates its own application procedures to fit the definition, and is sufficiently similar to HTML to be recognizable to generalists in law enforcement agencies.

This is not to suggest, however, that European high-tech police executives are universally enthused over the prospects of XML. Lt. Col. Umberto Rapetto,

Director of the Gruppo Anticrimine Tecnologico branch of the Italian Guardia di Finanza (Secret Service, Carabinieri), recently explained at a symposium in Berlin, Germany, that terrorist networks are now engaging in the same sophisticated encryption of messages as used by the CIA, NSA, German and Italian intelligence networks and others. Steganography is being used in combination with IP Headers and XML formats. The new risk is that terrorist messages will not be intercepted by extant means.

Director Rapetto criticized current intelligence efforts by comparing them to “getting all your info by watching CNN in English all day.” He calls for more intense human intelligence activity, coupled with better technical competence on the part of law enforcement specialists.

Similar warnings were recently issued by security engineers for the CATT (Cyber Attack Tiger Team), Europe. Incident Response and Digital Forensics experts for CATT point out that the limitations of XML become obvious when dealing with subjective police definitions of terms and meandering legal requirements to justify surveillance. Also, terms and conditions of international, cross-border police cooperation vary by country, by treaty, and by language/culture, all difficult variables to program into a single XML foundation.

Consultants Richard Starnes (London), Martin Pfeilsticker (CATT Frankfurt), and Joachim Schrod (University of Darmstadt) are disturbed at the “hype” surrounding XML, and are concerned that the language’s potentials are being overrated while other possibilities are being overlooked, e.g., as SGML was in the early 1990s.

II. International Organizational Weaknesses

In a research paper commissioned by the German BKA (Bundeskriminalamt), the FBI equivalent, Dr. Eckart Werthebach of the Bertelsmann Foundation reviewed the future of anti-terrorist campaigns in Europe and the USA from an organizational viewpoint.

First, according to Dr. Werthebach, there is no single central headquarters for unifying worldwide police efforts in locating and neutralizing terrorist networks. Perhaps more seriously, he contends that there is no agency extant that possesses a “big picture” or overall perspective on intelligence gathering and its fruits.

As a result, much detailed information stagnates for lack of interpretation and inclusion into greater and more strategic operations. Similarly, due to organizational and IT weaknesses, one police agency often fails to transmit crucial intelligence to its counterparts, or draws subjective conclusions as to the nature of the information it chooses to transmit.

European experience indicates that information deficits occur primarily in:

Quantity of personal information stored covering suspects;
Length of time that information is retained;
Accessibility to other agencies;
Integration of stored information with subsequent data on the same subject(s).

The German recommendation is for the creation of a stronger central body with the legislative authority to mandate interagency cooperation according to intelligence and IT needs as directed from the executive branch of that central agency.

In Italy, the drive toward central direction of intelligence gathering, surveillance and public safety preceded Sept. 11 by nearly a year. Parliament authorized the secretary of internal affairs and public safety (Ministro dell’Interno) to unify, coordinate and direct all public safety operations and resources. The secretary immediately issued a directive to unify all public safety and anti-terrorist efforts in the country. The unified approach succeeded in removing internecine rivalries among and between police agencies and intelligence groups, thus contributing to the success of Italian anti-terrorist efforts.

Of interest also is the work currently being produced by several German risk management firms regarding the changing nature of crisis management of the future. According to one respected source, police crisis management and decision-making should not be dissimilar to that of business corporations. Among the suggestions:

Appoint qualified personnel to analyze potential crises and risks before they occur;
Organize a complete, holistic immediate reaction and response;
Organize a comprehensive crisis information protection program;
Appoint a strong leadership personality as crisis manager to devise and lead the crisis prevention program;
Consult management psychologists on the task of building in decisional angst de-stressors in the event of crisis.

The past two years have seen dramatic developments throughout Europe in tightening international police cooperation. In particular, the Schengen Agreement, eliminating most border stations within the European Union, also created a new paradigm for transnational police work.

It also spawned a series of bipartite and multipartite police agreements that provide standards for cross-border observation, surveillance, and police pursuits.

For next month’s PIF Advisory Committee meeting, we will prepare a brief summary of police pursuit techniques and new approaches out of Europe that may prove to be of interest to the members.

Respectfully submitted,

Arthur A. Jones, J.D., Dr.jur. Robin Wiseman, J.D., Dr.h.c. 


--- Arthur A. Jones and Robin Wiseman are international human rights lawyers with legal educations in the United States and Europe. They are consultants and authors on international policing, social policy and human rights, and regular contributors to the forum here at LA Community Policing.

For more of their work, please see the
Think Tank.

For additional information or a complete list of references, contact:

Dr. Arthur Jones