Feeds

Bavaria sanctions police spyware

Trojan horse rides roughshod over opposition

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Bavaria has become the first German state to approve laws that allow police to plant spyware on the PCs of terror suspects.

The controversial measures allow local law enforcement officials to plant Trojans on the PCs of terror suspects (and potentially other serious criminals) from the start of August, Heise reports (Google translation here). Although there are safeguards, the measures go further than those enable by federal legislation, passed in June. Federal laws prohibit physically tampering with suspects' computers, restricting the tactic to spyware delivered by email.

Bavarian laws, by contrast, allow police to sneak into suspects' homes in cases where attempts to remotely install so-called remote forensic software fail. In these cases, physical search of a suspect's residence would also be allowed. The powers are restricted to cases where "urgent threats" to life are suspected. Importantly judicial warrants would not need to be obtained in these circumstances, Heise notes.

Opposition Green and social democrat politicians voted against the measures, contained in the Bavarian Constitutional Protection Act, arguing that the legislation is "unconstitutional". Bavarian interior minister Joachim Herrmann disputes this interpretation of the law, arguing the procedures are in line with both federal laws and the constitution. Opposition politicians and civil liberties campaigners fear that the powers could be applied to a far wider range of criminal suspects while paving the way for fishing expeditions.

As well as the dragnet concerns security experts have long pointed out the practical shortcomings of the use by law enforcement of Trojan tactics. Police-sanctioned malware may get into the hands of cybercrooks, for one thing. There's also concern about the admissibility of evidence obtained using the tactic.

Herr Herrmann gave short shrift to such objections, stating that Bavaria is leading the field in "internal security" in becoming the first German state to approve the plan.

Bavarian police have reportedly been laying the groundwork for the scheme for some months. Leaked documents, published by Wikileaks back in January, outline proposals by German firm Digitask to develop technology capable of intercepting intercept Skype VoIP communications and SSL transmissions. Costing and licensing proposals drawn up by the Bavarian Ministry of Justice for the software also surfaced on Wikileaks at the same time. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.