(en) Internal document of the french intelligence services : Technical assistance for surveillance and shadowing – putting beacons

Technical assistance for surveillance and shadowing – putting beacons, internal document of the french intelligence services, is a manual explaining how to put and operate localization beacons on vehicles in order to surveil movements. It was published in Tarnac, Magasin général, a book published in 2012 that relates the « Tarnac case » (in which people were placed under investigation, accused of sabotage of railways). It would date back to the middle of the 2000s, according to an article of the newspaper Médiapart that was published along with the book.

This document can be downloaded here

The document first explains the ways of putting beacons on vehicles in different scenarios (vehicle location, possibility to move the vehicle somewhere else to place the beacon…). Then, it presents different type of beacons and how to use them.

In the case of « Datong tracking », the beacon (called « Datong » in the document), placed on the vehicle to surveil, emits radio waves that are received by one or multiple « following vehicles » driven by the cops. The « following vehicles » are tasked with shadowing the vehicle to surveil when it moves. This kind of beacon implies that the cops stay near the vehicle to surveil (in the perimeter in which the beacon emits the radio waves) to be able to locate it.

In the case of « GPS tracking », the beacon uses the satellite positioning system GPS (Global Positioning System) to locate the vehicle. Concerning the retrieval by the cops of the informations obtained by the beacon, the manual explains two possible options :

  • The beacon can use the mobile phone network (GSM) to transmit in real-time the localization of the vehicle. In this case, the cops don’t need to be near the vehicle to be able to locate it. It is pointed out that some beacons can be programmed to only work on specific time slots, which helps to counter beacon detectors.
  • The beacon can emit radio waves to transmit the vehicle localization. In this case, the cops will need to be near the vehicle to be able to locate it. The transmission can be done in real-time. It can also be done afterwards, some beacons being able to store, in an internal memory, the history of the vehicle localizations and transmit this history later, in one go. In this case, the beacon doesn’t emit any radio wave except at the precise moment when the cops decide to retrieve the history, which can make its detection by beacon detectors difficult.
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