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Bavarian Police Seeking Skype Trojan Informant 252

Posted by kdawson
from the heavy-hand dept.
Andreaskem writes "Bavarian police searched the home of the spokesman for the German Pirate Party (Piratenpartei Deutschland) looking for an informant who leaked information about a government Trojan used to eavesdrop on Skype conversations. (The link is a Google translation of the German original.) There is a high probability that the Trojan is used illegally. A criminal law specialist said, 'The Bavarian authorities worked on the Trojan without a legitimate basis and now try to silence critics.' The informant need not worry since 'every information that could be used to identify him' is protected against unauthorized access by strong encryption. The Trojan is supposedly capable of eavesdropping on Skype conversations and obtaining technical details of the Skype client being used. It is deployed by e-mail or in place by the police. A Pirate Party spokesman said, 'Some of our officials seem to want to install the Big Brother state without the knowledge of the public.'"
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Bavarian Police Seeking Skype Trojan Informant

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  • by gnick (1211984) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:12PM (#25044319) Homepage

    Who would have thought that even a country like Germany could deteriorate into a police state?

    I kid, I kid... I'm in the US...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jgarra23 (1109651)
      Certainly not the Brits!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by johnlcallaway (165670)

        That was my first thought. When you outlaw knives, only outlaws will have knives. Then baseball bats. Then rolling pins. Then bare hands.

        • by Daimanta (1140543) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:28PM (#25044595) Journal

          `Then bare hands.

          Hello, I am Leopold II and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

          • I got yer Mama'a Trojan right here! In my wallet!

            Yer the same sons of bitches who went round with party pins on yer coats, and rounded up trade unionists and sculptors and Catholic objectionists for torture. I laugh everytime one of you makes the grave. Because... Now you realize the extent of the evil you've done in this life.

    • by rodgster (671476) <rodgster AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:23PM (#25044509) Journal

      I would not be surprised if the NSA has something similar at work here in the US.

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:24PM (#25044521) Journal
      Heh. Maybe this is what it'll take to make the general public (especially the baby boomers whose parents fought in WWII, or made other sacrifices) aware of how bad the rights deterioration in the US is.

      When the Germans do it, it's scary (to a lot of people). When the US does it, is it not also scary?
      • by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @05:14PM (#25045241)

        Comments from a German:

        German history has in the past worked as a deterrent against giving the police and secret services too much power. But after 9/11 and with the generation that has lived under the Nazi regime gradually dying off, those lessons seem in danger of being forgotten.

        The USA, however, have the "disadvantage" that they never had a dictatorship that was universally regarded as completely evil in hindsight. As a consequence, you guys over there have never learned these things the hard way and are (on average) way too trusting towards your government.
        [Flamebait]
        With stuff like arbitrarily detaining people ("illegal combatants" who are denied a fair trial) and torture of prisoners I think you are closer to a Fourth Reich than Germany.

        • by Daimanta (1140543) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @05:35PM (#25045467) Journal

          The so called "disadvantage" isn't a real disadvantage. Why? People forget, generations go past. Old people die, young people are born. World War II will be a lesson as long as people who have lived during that era can tell something about it. That may be possible now but in about 30 years almost all people who went through that period will have died. Then, nobody can tell us about the horrors of WWII, the brutalities, the bombing raids, the razzias.

          World War II will become like World War I, a forgotten war. As a joke I always use "Wilhelm II" as my avatar on every forum I am a member of. Nobody knows who "the guy with the weird moustache" is. Nobody is offended because it happened before any of us lived. The shockeffect is gone. 40 million people DIED in that war and I bet not even 1% can tell you who fought who.

          It's a tragedy.
          And the tragedy will return, but as a farce.

          Nobody is safe from failings, people thinking that they are immune to making mistakes are wrong. You WILL support the wrong guy and he will take away your freedoms. You WILL cheer for the soldiers sent into a useless and bloody war. And the lessons will be learned by you and forgotten by your children.

          I feel sorry for humanity.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by meringuoid (568297)
            As a joke I always use "Wilhelm II" as my avatar on every forum I am a member of. Nobody knows who "the guy with the weird moustache" is. Nobody is offended because it happened before any of us lived. The shockeffect is gone. 40 million people DIED in that war and I bet not even 1% can tell you who fought who.

            Most people at the time probably weren't too clear on who was fighting who. That war was a confused mess. As I understand it, a Bosnian shot an Austrian, so Austria declared war on Serbia, so Russia

            • by Daimanta (1140543)

              "And the leaders of that war weren't celebrities. Churchill, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were all larger-than-life figures. Memorable. Charismatic. The leaders of WW1 were nowhere near so media-friendly."

              Celebrities are made, not born. From the age of around 8 you have been drowned in information about World War II. You are taught by teachers in schools, by going to musea, from television(documentaries) and newspapers(which desribe WWII as a major turning point). World War II is everywhere. No wonder that

            • by KGIII (973947) *

              That has to be one of the best posts on /. today. WWI History - Cliff Notes Version.

        • by cpghost (719344)

          The USA, however, have the "disadvantage" that they never had a dictatorship that was universally regarded as completely evil in hindsight. As a consequence, you guys over there have never learned these things the hard way and are (on average) way too trusting towards your government.

          Interesting. But are you sure that collective memory w.r.t. past dictatorships still protects from repeating the same mistakes? Just talk to young Germans of the MTV generation (say teens and twens) about the current surveill

        • by MarkvW (1037596)

          The deterrent effect of German history? What about the STASI? They didn't get deterred! As I recall, they were pretty bad . . ..

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        >When the Germans do it, it's scary (to a lot of people).

        It's not 'the Germans', it's the Bavarian Police, they're more like a local LAPD.

    • by F-3582 (996772)
      Who said that Bavaria was Germany?
      • by gnick (1211984)

        Yes, yes. I fully realize that Bavaria is just a German state - It's actually very nice and the only part of Germany that I've been able to visit. But it's funnier to pick on the whole country even if it's inaccurate. (Although if this had gone on for some time, yielded results, and was not noticed, do you really think that it would have been contained to Bavaria?)

        Isn't there a nit somewhere that needs picking?

        • by F-3582 (996772)
          I wasn't nitpicking. Many people wouldn't even consider Bavaria a part of Germany, because despite being the richest state in Germany, it's also a state being ruled by an ultra-conservative religious right-wing party (called CSU) infamous for their war on violent games for almost fifty years, now. And I think that Lederhosn look just stupid. You could probably compare Bavaria to Texas in some ways. Filled with rednecks.
          • by gnick (1211984)

            I just got back from Lubbock, TX on Monday - Those people are damned proud of being ultra-conservative religious right-wing rednecks. But the image you just gave me of a TX family portrait with everyone wearing Lederhosn was absolutely priceless.

  • by Deadstick (535032) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:22PM (#25044487)
    ...Most governments screw you without one.

    rj

  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:24PM (#25044517)
    In plain sight of the public, which might just barely conceivably still have sufficient intelligence and strength of will to stop you, or quietly, unobtrusively, all-but-unnoticed in the shadows?

    "The price of Freedom is eternal vigilance." - who said that again?

    • by thermian (1267986)

      Not sure, I guess you could write a nsis script for it.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:57PM (#25044987)

      Every government, ultimately, will be inclined to install a police state. It is the most efficient way for people who's main concern is enforcing the law to operate. Which would be fine if we could know that the laws were just and the people enforcing those laws were also just. But it is in human nature to disagree on such subjective terms as "just" even if we ignore that it is also human nature to abuse and become corrupted by power.

      As it is a natural inclination to install a police state, the steps to do so will take many forms. Some quiet. Some with great pomp and circumstance. Some will be corrupt and self-serving. Some will be introduced with entirely good intention.

      Eternal vigilance is required to maintain a check on this behavior. It is easy to point out the corrupt. It is harder to realize that the actions based on good intention leads to corruption and abuse. But ultimately, both must be identified and stopped.

      It is a part of the process... an ongoing process that is likely to continue as long as we exist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pilgrim23 (716938)

      Ever notice that laws against something in tech (encryption, network use, limit downloads, etc.); defense (ban guns knives Marshall Arts knowledge); or most anything else, are proposed and passed by clueless politicians without a shred of morality or knowledge of the subject. And that laws in favor of something (RIAA favorable laws, copyrot, big money bail outs etc) are passed by clueless politicians without a shred of morality or knowledge of the subject.
      not that I woudl expect otherwise mind...

  • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:24PM (#25044523)

    Likes outdoor activities, pets, and long moonlit walks on the beach. Mild uniform fetish. Possible LTR. Call me soon - let's drink beer and eat Souvlakia on Walpurgisnacht!

  • by Lumenary7204 (706407) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:28PM (#25044577)

    The trends I've been noticing lately are very disconcerting.

    Think about what you get when the following technologies converge:

    -- IP Traceback
    -- VOIP Interception
    -- Keylogging
    -- Deep Packet Analysis
    -- Automatic Vehicle License Plate Identification
    -- Public/Metro Transit Card Tracking

    Everyone now has the potential to become their own "Poor Man's NSA." Even local governments, or relatively poor and/or developing countries.

    Of course, if a private citizen used these tools to protect their *own* interests, they could be charged with all sorts of crimes, like illegal wiretapping, computer intrusion and abuse, etc...

    • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:43PM (#25044799)

      I can remember a debate I had a while back about the potential of some cheap wifi tech hooked up to a small webcam and worn on your person when going to protests or other events where you expect there to be a high chance of the police breaking the law. So that it could stream everything you see directly to a secure online store.
      This would have great potential for making sure police who abuse their power get in trouble or are at least publicly shown to be abusing their power.
      My friends rebuttal was that they'd simply introduce a law banning private citizens from using such devices at protests and call it a measure against pedophiles (to stop them filming the little kids walking around in the streets! You never know what they'd be thinking about if they had video of your children walking on a public street!!!).
      As long as people will accept anything in the name of fighting terrorists or paedophiles then civil liberties are fucked.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LWATCDR (28044)

        Actually legality of it would very from place to place. In the US it is totally legal to take pictures in public spaces but in some states it is illegal to record audio. Those laws are privacy laws.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by megamerican (1073936)

        All of this has already come to pass.

        It was possible to watch protesters live at the DNC and RNC at justin.tv.

        The police in Minnesota arrested dozens of journalists during the RNC, many with legitamite press credentials (not that you need them to be protected by the 1st amendment). Of course they weren't arrested for engaging in a protected right, but the police arrested them all on bogus charges anyway.

      • As long as people will accept anything in the name of fighting terrorists or paedophiles then civil liberties are fucked.

        Aha, wery interestink, I tink hyu haff found de appropriate neurotic diagnozis! A new form of philia!

        On a slightly more serious note, it seems the folks who get involved in such governmental shenanigans do indeed have a problem, though. Instead of lusting after kids, they lust after destroying civil liberties. To coin a new word, perhaps they should be labeled as katapnixiphiles? (ka

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:30PM (#25044619) Journal
    of themselves, and find no wrongdoing, as usual.

    It is genuinely fucked up that, when evidence of a most-likely-illegal government surveillance program comes to light, they are hunting for the person who brought the problem to light, rather than the people who are the problem.

    FFS, if evidence of an illegal program is leaked, your problem isn't leakers, it is lawbreakers.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:38PM (#25044729) Homepage Journal
    federal authorities should be seeking the bavarian fascist that initiated the program.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Fascist is probably not technically true and extremely inflammatory.

      However it does make me wonder just how much power the states in Germany have. I agree that it would seem a federal investigation would be in order if any laws where broken.
      I am not a German and I don't know German law so for all I know this is totally legal in Germany.
      I don't like it but since I am not a German voter it really isn't up to me.

      • I am not a German and I don't know German law so for all I know this is totally legal in Germany.

        At the time, there was no "trojan law", neither on the federal level nor in Bavaria. So, in a Rechtsstaat [wikipedia.org], these actions were illegal !

        I agree that it would seem a federal investigation would be in order if any laws where broken.

        On the federal level, they are drafting a new law (after the first "federal trojan" law of another German state was found unconstitutional by the constitutional court) which, as I a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:56PM (#25044967)

    Posting Anonymously to protect my job,

    I have been working for a few months on software designed to extract skype calls from streams of captured packets. The software is highly distributed, and while I can't know the exact use, I'm guessing it will be installed near every network interconnect point. Interestingly, it has nowehere near the performance required to record every skype call on the internet, so it will probably only be used for certain targets.

    The good news is that the project is failing badly due to funding issues and poor management, and probably won't be deployed for years yet.

    Note that this IS with the help of skype engineers - we haven't reverse engineered the encryption.

    • by Daimanta (1140543)

      The Inner party welcomes your contribution.

    • by erlehmann (1045500) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @06:58PM (#25046415)

      Posting Anonymously to protect my job, [...]
      I have been working for a few months on software designed to extract skype calls [...]

      Fuck you !

      Sincerely, a concerned citizen

      • by CBravo (35450)

        No: thank him. He could have shut up. Maybe the ethics are questionable but at least he provides the public with the situation at hand (so they too can form an opinion).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fedxone-v86 (1080801)

      I'd wish you all the best for the project and that one of your peers gets caught by your software. So that you can experience first hand what ethics are good for.
      But this would be quite a selfish wish and only would only do bad for society.

      So, all I can do instead is say:

      FUCK YOU!

  • But? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:58PM (#25045011) Homepage Journal

    Does it run under Linux?
    I am wondering it really could be another reason to run Linux.
    I am sure that the NSA has forensics tools for Linux but I bet the local police sure don't.

    • by cpghost (719344)

      I am sure that the NSA has forensics tools for Linux but I bet the local police sure don't.

      As a matter of fact, the german LKAs (which are approximately the equivalent of the FBI, but limited to the local states -- Laender) do have some (very professional) Linux geeks in their computer forensics units...

      But the funny thing is: even if they didn't have any in-house Linux expertise and if they couldn't contract some freelancing specialists, it wouldn't matter: as long as the file systems are not encrypted,

  • Stasi 2.0 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @05:14PM (#25045239)

    For the first time in my life, I will attempt to post something informative on Slashdot.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi_2.0 [wikipedia.org]

    The, err, um, joke, is that the Stasi were the former East German secret police (1.0).

    The major failure of the Stasi (1.0), was that they were collecting too much data, that they could ever dream of analyzing.

    Has 2.0 deeper pockets?

    • Re:Stasi 2.0 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @05:25PM (#25045353)

      Has 2.0 deeper pockets?

            No, but the cost of sifting through that information is almost negligible nowadays, with our computers and even voice analysis software. Far more efficient than filing cabinets and typewriters.

  • by nxsty (942984)
    Probably a bit better than the translated page:
    http://wiki.piratenpartei.de/Press_release_2008-09-17 [piratenpartei.de]

    Also check out this mail to the Pirate Party International list:
    http://lists.pirateweb.net/pipermail/pp.international.general/2008-September/001514.html [pirateweb.net]
  • by freedom_india (780002) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @02:44AM (#25051197) Homepage Journal

    When it comes to defending itself, a Government can be truly frightful. They can take away your property (rezoning), your wife(abuse charges), your kids(child abuse charges) and almost anything they can think of. You can do nothing to protect yourself except in courts: Try defending yourself with a handgun when a SWAT team raid (illegally), and you would be lucky to escape alive, let alone unharmed.
    Try protesting your innocence in a police station when you are roughly handcuffed and tossed into a cell containing hardened criminals.
    And when finally courts rule against the government, the government goes scot-free by throwing your tax money back at you in compensation and escaping any other liability.
    If you owe taxes to IRS, they can seize your home, imprison you and incarcerate you forever.
    But if the government owes back taxes to you or any other money, you cannot walk in seize their property: its a sure way to get shot.
    Which is why laws must be tit-for-tat.
    All laws must be reciprocal. If the law allows the State to raid your home with just a no-show warrant, you should be able to do the same against them with same warrant and walk in with a few gun-slingers.
    If the law allows state to seize your property for taxes with just a notice, you should be able to walk in and seize their property when they refuse to pay you.
    Simple.
    Roman laws were like that.
    Its a pity it was not followed.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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