Die Zeit: Germany “on the verge of surveillance State”

The online edition of Die Zeit of August 20th, 2018, reveals how certain legislative measures, created for the fight against terrorism, are making their way into ordinary legislation, without adequately informing citizens and with the use of increasingly advanced technological tools. A
situation which reminds of the integration of emergency measures in ordinary legislation in France, and very much in line with the so-called British “Snooper’s Chart” commissioned by then Home Secretery Theresa May.

This is a recurring theme we cannot ignore, even though it is extremely complicated precisely because of its often very technical aspects. However, we cannot remain silent on those aspects regarding the citizens’ right to know and the safeguards of freedom and privacy. It is in this sense
most interesting to note that while many politicians appear incapable of dealing with this issue when it comes to tackling recent scandals and its impact on our democracies and citizen rights, as became painstakingly clear during Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings on the use and abuse of Facebook
data and its platform at the European Parliament, how they seem to learn very quickly when it comes to using them for purposes contrary to safeguarding those Constitutionally and
internationally protected rights.

Laura Harth

Below is the translation of the original article.

FDP presents a constitutional complaint against State trojans

The Liberals want lo legally block the use of security software they think led Germany “to the brink
of a surveillance State”.

FDP lodged a constitutional appeal against the use of so-called State trojans, following the example of several plaintiffs around the “Digitalcourage” data protection association, whom lodged a lawsuit with the highest German Court in Karlsruhe. FDP’s Parliamentary Group leader, Marco Buschmann, is convinced of the success of the complaint: with its use of State trojans the great coalition “consciously” exceeds the limits of the jurisprudence of the Federal Constitutional Court.

Among other things, the State trojan allows investigators to monitor communications in messaging services such as Whatsapp. The use of software by the police has been authorized for about a year and is applied without the knowledge of the user concerned. Until 2017, such measures were allowed only in cases of defense against terrorism.

At the presentation of the lawsuit, FDP’s lawyer Nikolaos Gazeas defined the method as “the most serious interference” provided for in the penal code with respect to citizens’ rights. “Today, anyone who constantly reads or monitors a person’s computer or smartphone really knows everything about him or her.”

The State trojan not only allows investigators to scrape data off a computer, the lawyer stated. It also allows real-time monitoring, as if an investigator constantly glanced at your computer and saw everything – and, for example, even reads the lines one deletes while drafting an email or message.

It is the most advanced method in the penal code truly allowing investigators “to monitor people’s thinking”. Buschmann criticized the use of spyware as “disproportionate”. His party colleague Stephan
Thomae, Vice-President of the Parliamentary Group, called on the State to verify the proportionality of the measure with respect to civil liberties and citizens’ privacy. Burkhard Hirsch, former FDP Home Minister and Vice-President of the Bundestag, also warned: “We are on the verge of a
surveillance State”
.

Read the original article on Zeit Online

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