Comments

Aidan ThorntonJuly 6, 2007 8:07 AM

In modern Germany, the police still keep samples of people's smells (http://www.guardian.co.uk/g8/story/0,,2085932,00.html)

MitchJuly 6, 2007 8:13 AM

This was shown in the film "the lives of others", which I found an interesting film. It was set in communist East Germany and revolves around the surveillance of an actor.

Giuseppe D'AngeloJuly 6, 2007 8:13 AM

This was already seen in "The Lives of Others" movie :-)

ThomasJuly 6, 2007 8:17 AM

The "Stazi" is actually called Stasi short for Staatssicherheit or in English State Security or Homeland Security if you like.

AnonymousJuly 6, 2007 8:36 AM

The deputy green parliamentary group boss Hans-Christian Ströbele spoke about a "Schnüffelstaat in perfect ion". It remembered that already in the 80er-Jahren the federal bureau had gathered smell sample of supposed system-Gefährdern for state protection. After public protest, this practice had been concluded however then. "it is unsavory that our security authorities use now methods, that already the Stasi practiceen" would have, so Ströbele.

The deputy FDP-floor leader mixed spoke Stadler about "incomprehensible methods", that are gathered probably "into the blue in", because unclearly would be, from where one already would know today, who wanted demonstrate beginning of June violent.

vwmJuly 6, 2007 8:37 AM

Aidan, Erik, the "G8-adversary-smell-samples" have been taken for the direct comparison with existing samples taken from home-made-bombs. The samples will not be stored after the investigation on those bombs are over.

Stasi in contrast kept a library regardless of whether a concrete suspicion existed.

AnonymousJuly 6, 2007 8:40 AM

"The samples will not be stored after the investigation on those bombs are over."

Yeah, sure.

Socialism SucksJuly 6, 2007 8:41 AM

"The samples will not be stored after the investigation on those bombs are over"

vwm you are touchingly naive.

Where do you think the ex-Stasi ended up working? In real estate, perhaps, or ladies apparel?

Erik SchmidtJuly 6, 2007 8:50 AM

@vwm

Regardless if they store the samples or not: they did it! They adopted something the Stasi did for years. And that IMHO is actually all that counts.

Erik SchmidtJuly 6, 2007 9:00 AM

@vwm

Quote: "Dies geschieht mit Spürhunden und in einem Labor in Nordrhein-Westfalen, wo sich eine Polizeieinheit auf Geruchsvergleiche spezialisiert hat."

Roughly translated: "This happens with sniffing dogs and a lab in Northrhine-Westfailiure where a special police squad is specialized on scent comparisions."

So the german police can - and will - use it.

Anonymous2July 6, 2007 9:42 AM

@vwm

this is just mr. Markwort personal opinion, even focus wrote something different than mr. Markwort:
http://www.focus.de/politik/deutschland/g8-gipfel/g8-gegner_aid_57076.html

Quote:
"Bundesinnenminister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) hat die Entnahme von Körpergeruchsproben bei potenziellen gewalttätigen G8-Gegnern durch die Polizei verteidigt."

home secretary Wolfgang Schäuble defended taking smells samples of potiential violent g8 opponents by the police.

Potential foobars not suspects!

vwmJuly 6, 2007 9:47 AM

Erik, the German police uses marks found on tools used to commit a crime to sort out suspects.

Marks can be fingerprints, saliva, blood, bits of skin and so much more. In the cases we are discussing it is the smell on letters and petrol cans. So far it is quite what police does and has to do every day.
Permitted, smell probably is an unusual evidence. Nevertheless the technique has been used successfully to solve a robbery in 2003 (c.f. link above).

Stasi stored samples of dissidents in advance. Such a thing is not happening in Germany right now, and what happened in the run-up to the G8-Summit can not compare.

vwmJuly 6, 2007 9:58 AM

@Anonymous2: Your article (from the 23rd of may) is mostly a summary of what politicians did say. Markwords editorial (from the 6th of june) contains his personal point of view, but also some facts that apparently where oblivious to those quoted in earlier articles.

And yes, Schäuble got it wrong as well. That's very sad. But please do not blame the police for incompetent politicians.

Erik SchmidtJuly 6, 2007 10:02 AM

@vwm

Right now law enforcement all over the world stores a lot of data (depending on the local laws). For instance in germany right now they store IP data from internet providers. I do not have a problem with that as this kind of data can not be easily forged.

On the other hand I do really have a problem with my 'data' - my stench - used as an evidence.

'Officer K9 has identified you as the one, who did the crime. You're busted pal!'

Whats next? 'Our police turtle has identified you as the guy, who committed shop robbery!'?

I do have faith in the german police, I do have faith in our law enforcement, I do have faith in our legal system ...

But I do NOT have faith in police dogs, turtles or parrots.

And please don't get me started on the Stasi which IMHO was a perversion of bureaucracy itself.

KaukomieliJuly 6, 2007 10:03 AM

@ Aidan Thornton:

"In modern Germany, the police still keep samples of people's smells (http://www.guardian.co.uk/g8/story/0,,2085932,00.html)"

The Stasi-smell-samples can not be compared to the ones taken prior to the G8-summit.
The Stasi kept a huge library of samples they took from people in case they could use it some day.

The german prosecutors took the smells of 5 persons they suspected of being responsible for igniting a couple of cars in Berlin with incendiaries. The samples where taken to check if one of those five persons was involved in composing a letter where some obscure revolutionary group admitted their responsibility.

It is quite difficult for a person not familiar with german law to understand, that the police by itself is there to prevent crimes from happening, while a different branch of the government is responsible for prosecution after a crime has happened. But the latter are allowed to assign certain tasks to the former.

So while the police took the samples they did this not to prevent crime, but as "auxiliary person". The prosecutors on the other hand have a different toolset for comparing evidence or checking on suspects, as long as they have facts pointing at that persons responsibility.

BrianJuly 6, 2007 10:46 AM

Odd.

Wouldn't the collected smells change overtime? Especially bacteria and mold based smells?

georgeJuly 6, 2007 11:20 AM

Schaeuble's lost his mind completely. It's quite sad really - he used to be really smart - it looks like his brain activity has just degenerated significantly.

MikeAJuly 6, 2007 11:29 AM

@FooDooHackedYou
anyone have a Bin Laden smell sample?

Our DHS probably does, if it wants one, since the Bin Laden's are "friendly" with the current administration, and were, IIRC, some of the very few people allowed to fly (to leave the US) immediately after 9/11. Not _the_ Bin Laden that you probably meant, but to the extent that the DNA samples might predict scent, might be "close enough".

X the UnknownJuly 6, 2007 12:06 PM

"The samples will not be stored after the investigation on those bombs are over."

Well, as Stasi found, that could be quite a warehousing and "records-keeping" nightmare. On the other hand, storing a computerized profile of the chemical analysis, gas-chromatographic spectra, etc., would be a snap. And, they could honestly say "we're not storing people's smells" (just their data)...

Seems more like the DHS style, to me.

X the UnknownJuly 6, 2007 12:10 PM

I know that what you eat changes your smell appreciably (eat a lot of garlic, sweat "garlicky" for a couple of days).

How well do these "stored smell" techniques handle this sort of thing? How well do the "true professionals" (bloodhounds) handle deliberate scent-changing?

I know where you live.July 6, 2007 1:40 PM

"Right now law enforcement all over the world stores a lot of data (depending on the local laws)."

LOL. How sweet. Here is the corrected version:

Right now law enforcement all over the world stores all data they can get into their filthy fingers (regardless of what the local law says).

RoyJuly 6, 2007 2:33 PM

Germans and Americans are among the few people in the world who believe a dog can reliably identify someone by smell, or that bloodhounds can reliably track a scent.

I have twice come across dogs who mistook me for an old friend.

(For the bloodhound believers, please explain why the hounds have to be on leashes, and how the handler decides which hound is on the right track and how he decides they're all on the wrong track.)

AnonymousJuly 6, 2007 3:30 PM

Unfortunately the hounds cannot communicate the degree of certainty with which they make an identification. We can't tell "yes, this is a positive match!" from "well, it's close, and you'll be happy if I tell you so!" or "it smells like meat! Can I have some meat?"

But it's probably a good enough indication to get police to look investigate further, like "compatible fibers" or other non-identifying trace evidence.

@roy, The point of scent-tracing is for the dog to lead the handler to the target. Without a leash to tether the handler to the dog (rather than the other way round) the hound is liable to run too fast or go through a hedge where the handler can't follow. If one person is using more than one dog usually the majority of dogs rules, when there is a confusion.

The dogs can make a mistake but more often they lose the trail or get distracted by another interesting scent trace. If they lose the trail they will often stop or search in a spiral for more scent. When they stop and gather around a raccoon, you know to go back up the trail and try again. So be sure to have a couple of raccoons in your pocket when you escape prison, to throw off the handlers.

And how do you know the dogs thought you were an old friend, and weren't just disappointed that you didn't look as nice as you smelled? ;)

CyranoJuly 6, 2007 3:31 PM

Unfortunately the hounds cannot communicate the degree of certainty with which they make an identification. We can't tell "yes, this is a positive match!" from "well, it's close, and you'll be happy if I tell you so!" or "it smells like meat! Can I have some meat?"

But it's probably a good enough indication to get police to look investigate further, like "compatible fibers" or other non-identifying trace evidence.

@roy, The point of scent-tracing is for the dog to lead the handler to the target. Without a leash to tether the handler to the dog (rather than the other way round) the hound is liable to run too fast or go through a hedge where the handler can't follow. If one person is using more than one dog usually the majority of dogs rules, when there is a confusion.

The dogs can make a mistake but more often they lose the trail or get distracted by another interesting scent trace. If they lose the trail they will often stop or search in a spiral for more scent. When they stop and gather around a raccoon, you know to go back up the trail and try again. So be sure to have a couple of raccoons in your pocket when you escape prison, to throw off the handlers.

And how do you know the dogs thought you were an old friend, and weren't just disappointed that you didn't look as nice as you smelled? ;)

mJuly 9, 2007 11:50 AM

Well, german police have a habit of gathering information they should'nt - the police laws (Polizei Aufgaben Gesetz, PAG) of all the states say that an ED (Erkennungsdienstliche Behandlung) where the police gather fingerprints, take pictures, ask for a sample of saliva (for DNS) can be done if needed for investigation. In practice, people have been dragged to one for insulting an officer, near lots of witnesses. So generelly, they gather as much as they can preemptivly. And that should alarm you.

xavJuly 10, 2007 1:33 PM

I had the "pleasure" to be subjected to such a test by the police of my country (Central Europe, post-communist). It is a common practice here, and it works.

The results of this kind of test cannot however be used as a sole proof in a court.

David CantrellJuly 13, 2007 4:24 PM

@Erik Schmidt: well gosh, they use a technique that the Stasi used. The Stasi no doubt also used fingerprints and photographs, so I don't really understand what your point is.

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