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Data retention, video surveillance and state trojans: "surveillance state" measures under fire from politicians and NGOs
26.6.17
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A swathe of new surveillance and security measures recently introduced by the German government are facing increasing criticism from politicians and civil society organisations, with legal challenges to new laws on data retention and video surveillance in the works.

See: Resistance growing to German government's surveillance measures (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Germany's Free Democrats (FDP) are normally considered the preferred coalition partners of the conservatives, but on Monday they laid into Chancellor Merkel's current government with the Social Democrats over its record on state surveillance and civil liberties.

"For four years, civil liberties have had no advocate in the grand coalition," FDP chairman Christian Lindner said at an event in Berlin, where the FDP presented a "poison list" of seventeen recent legislation and policies that it says curtail personal freedom in Germany.

The list includes everything from expanded video surveillance to the collection and retention of telecommunications data and the use of malware to spy on possible criminals to proposed reforms that would enhance the powers of Germany's intelligence services. Together, say FDP leaders, these measures amount to a pernicious trend.

"We're sliding into a surveillance state," criticized 84-year-old former German Interior Minister Gerhart Baum, who added: "In all my days I've never experienced such an abundance of measures."

Lindner said that a "general reversal" on these issues would be a precondition for any partnership with the FDP - a warning leveled directly at Merkel's conservatives, who according to the latest polls may numerically be able to form a government coalition with the Free Democrats after September's election."

The article notes that the NGO Digital Courage are planning to challenge the new Data Retention Law before the Constitutional Court, while the Pirate Party intends to do the same with the Video Surveillance Improvement Law.

Digital Courage are co-organising a demonstration against the Data Retention Law in Berlin, starting at 11:55 outside the Bundestag this Thursday: "Data retention violates EU law" but is coming anyway - sink data retention! (Digital Courage, link in German).

The demonstration follows the decision of a North-Rhine Westphalia court that frees an Internet Service Provider (ISP) from the data retention requirements. The court found the requirements to be in breach of EU law. See: Spacenet wins injunction against data retention law (Telecompaper, link)

See also: Police get broad phone and computer hacking powers in Germany (ZDNet, link):

"Germany's coalition government has significantly increased police hacking powers by slipping a last-minute amendment into a law that's nominally supposed to deal with driving bans.

While the police have so far only been allowed to hack into people's phones and computers in extreme cases, such as those involving terrorist plots, the change allows them to use such techniques when investigating dozens of less serious offences.

In Germany, the authorities' hacking tools are widely known as Staatstrojanern, or state trojans. This term essentially refers to malware that the police can use to infect targets' devices, to give them the access they need to monitor communications and conduct searches."

See also a recent Statewatch Analysis: Germany: Almost suspicious: the unbearable lightness of legislation (pdf) by Heiner Busch (May 2017)

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