Despite a lot of criticism from the opposition: The protection of the constitution is granted more rights. In individual cases, communications via messenger services should be allowed to be monitored.
Berlin – Now it’s official: The domestic secret service gets more rights to access telecommunications. The corresponding amendment to the Constitutional Protection Act passed the Bundestag this Thursday (June 10). There were 355 votes in favor, 280 against and four abstentions. Representatives of the Union and the SPD defended the plans against sharp criticism from the opposition.
In plain language, this means that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution will in future be allowed to read communications via WhatsApp and other encrypted messenger services – if a corresponding order is issued in individual cases. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the internal politicians of the Union faction had argued that this would only bring the domestic intelligence service back to the level at which it was before the invention of the Internet and mobile communications. Back then it was enough to eavesdrop on landline telephones.
Protection of the Constitution gets more competencies: “Extremists no longer make phone calls”
“Extremists and terrorists no longer talk to each other on the phone, do not write SMS messages, but communicate in encrypted form via messenger services,” said SPD MP Uli Grötsch. The SPD chairman Saskia Esken had made it clear on Twitter the day before that she rejected the reform.
The reform was very controversial in the coalition. A first draft had already been sent to the other ministries for comment in March 2019. At that time, he also provided the secret services with permission for “online searches”. This means covert access to computers, smartphones and other IT devices, the data of which can then be read out. This passage was deleted under pressure from the SPD.
Controversial decision: Opposition sees far-reaching encroachment on civil rights
Opposition representatives criticized the reform as too far-reaching encroachment on civil rights. André Hahn from the Left called the innovations unconstitutional, Konstantin von Notz (Greens) “highly problematic”. There was particularly sharp criticism of the use of IT security gaps, so-called state Trojans. “Your security policy is itself a security risk,” said FDP politician Stephan Thomae. Criminals could use these vulnerabilities to blackmail companies and steal identities, and foreign intelligence agencies could also use it to spy on them.
The reform will also lower the barriers to observation of individuals by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In doing so, the federal government is drawing conclusions from the right-wing extremist terrorist attacks in Halle and Hanau. Both attacks were carried out by perpetrators who, according to previous knowledge, did not belong to any group. (nema with dpa)
Meanwhile, a constitutional protection scandal is spreading in Saxony. Information about Vice Prime Minister Martin Dulig (SPD) is said to have been stored illegally.