Feeds

Bavaria sanctions police spyware

Trojan horse rides roughshod over opposition

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

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. ®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.