Germany gives secret services access to WhatsApp conversations

Germany gives secret services access to WhatsApp conversations
Germany gives secret services access to WhatsApp conversations

The German Government opened the way this Wednesday so that the secret services can have access to encrypted conversations in groups of messages as in Messenger or Whatsapp, measure that aims “to better fight terrorism”.

The bill, drawn up after a series of attacks by the German extreme right, was approved this Wednesday by the Council of Ministers and is expected to be validated by Members of Parliament.

According to the text, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, that is, the German Intelligence Services and the Military Counter-Intelligence Service (MAD), will in future be authorized to monitor not only ongoing conversations via Messenger but also those already encrypted sent on this platform with the help of “spyware” in particular.

“I cannot accept that our security authorities are unable to prosecute the enemies of our democracy for lack of powers,” explained the author of the text, the German interior minister, Horst Seehofer, a conservative.

“The days of rotary telephones are gone. We need intelligence services that can see and hear in the digital age,” Seehofer, adding that the future law “is a long-awaited step in the fight against terrorists and extremists.”

For her part, the German Minister of Justice, the Social Democrat Christine Lambrecht, defended that the secret services should be able to “act on an equal footing with those who persecute”, stressing that it is not a question of persecuting citizens of “preventing crimes”.

The German Government has ensured that “supervision” will only be possible after agreement with the “G-10 Commission”, the parliamentary committee specially dedicated to the study of restrictive measures in the field of the secrecy of letters, post offices and telecommunications.

The text comes after a series of attacks by elements of the extreme right in Halle, in late 2019, and in Hanau, earlier this year, in which 11 people lost their lives. The two individuals, who acted alone, already had an identical background.

However, the bill provoked the ire of the opposition.

A leader of Ecologists, Konstantin Von Notz, criticized the text, considering it “against civil rights, while the FDP liberals indicate, in turn, that it is a” strong attack on fundamental rights “.

The German branch of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has also criticized the measure on the social network Twitter.

“[A medida] it will give more surveillance powers to secret services without protecting journalists and their sources. The law would jeopardize the work of journalists, “reads Twitter.

According to the news agency France-Press (AFP), the text recalls what was censored in late 2019 by the Austrian Constitutional Court that, in the name of protecting privacy, prevented the establishment of a device introduced by the former far-right government to monitor encrypted communications thanks to ‘spyware’.

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