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Government Privacy Your Rights Online

Expenditure Report Reveals Germany Monitors Skype, Google Mail, Facebook Chat 89

hypnosec writes "The German Government has gone a bit too far trying to be transparent, inadvertently revealing that German police monitor Skype, Google Mail, MSN Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, and Facebook chat when necessary. The revelations, spotted by the annalist blog, come from a report of expenses incurred by the Federal Ministry of the Interior following a parliamentary inquiry. The report contains lots of tables and as many would find those boring, some highlights: On page 34 and page 37 of the report line item 486 and 265 respectively, represent decoding software for Google Mail, MSN Hotmail, Yahoo Mail for prevention and investigation."
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Expenditure Report Reveals Germany Monitors Skype, Google Mail, Facebook Chat

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  • Reveals too much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SquarePixel ( 1851068 ) * on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @12:01PM (#41608491)

    Isn't it good that the government is transparent?

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @12:07PM (#41608557) Homepage Journal

    lack of transparency: complain about lack of transparency

    transparency: complain about what you see

    I'd much rather be able to see that my government is doing something I'd like to know more about, than to know that they're hiding something from me that's potentially of interest to me.

  • by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @12:07PM (#41608561) Homepage

    I personally would like to know and hold my government responsible for things like this. In theory one might argue that given a sutable warrant it might be perfectly reasonable to monitor someone. The German people have a right to know what their government is doing IMHO.

    I guess the culture in Europe vs. the U.S. is probably quite different... But no matter what the reasons transparency is almost always better than the opposite.

  • by Isaac Remuant ( 1891806 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @12:16PM (#41608701)

    I don't understand why the modded you down.

    Being transparent (and therefore disclosing what can be seen as wrongdoing) is a GOOD thing.

    I did not like the "too transparent" suggestion that seems to lead to the conclusion that it's better to be secretive so you can get away with wrongdoing. Which is where USA seems to be going. No oversight due to never ending secrecy claims.

    Now, in this specific case, the revelation had little to do with transparency of that issue but of a mistake regarding government expenditure.

  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @12:19PM (#41608737)

    This is not a direct proof of snooping, just that the German government has the ability to do so. That doesn't necessarily mean that it abuses that power in warrantless monitoring.

  • Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mholve ( 1101 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @12:34PM (#41608939) Homepage

    I'm not. Any modern government (law enforcement or intelligence agencies) would or at least should have this capability. The real question is, do they use it without warrants, use it in an indiscriminant fashion, etc. If they were going after a legitimate suspect, they should have the capability to do so.

  • Re:HTTPS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArsenneLupin ( 766289 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @12:39PM (#41609015)

    I thought it all was. I get redirected when I try to use non-SSL.

    A smart man-in-the-middle would yank that redirection, and 99% of the users wouldn't notice them missing s after http. Or if the s is there, they would not notice that they are on rather than

    As long as the users rely on redirections for their safety, rather than entering the full URL (including the https part) themselves, they are fair game for men in the middle.

    And all this without even installing a Bundestrojaner on the victim's computer...

  • by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @01:45PM (#41609887)
    I'm not sure what you mean. Don't kid yourself. Germany isn't the only one monitoring the communications of its citizens. In reality, it would be easier to come up with a list of countries that do NOT monitor. On that very, very short list you should not be surprised when you note the absence of the first world nations, nor that it is comprised almost entirely of third-world nations. The fact that Germany actually openly admits it is a feather in their cap. Everyone does it, Germany just has the decency to be forthright about it.
  • Re:I'd prefer... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alexgieg ( 948359 ) <> on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @02:42PM (#41610683) Homepage

    See, there are very bad people in the world who want to kill me and destroy my country. Doesn't matter which country.

    Wrong. Brazil is one of the largest economies in the world, and a regional power in South America, with influence over all our neighboring countries. But we don't have enemies. Why? Because we mostly keep to ourselves. Our relationship with other countries is one of selling and purchasing, not one of throwing military might around. Truth be told, a few times some more ideologically motivated governments of ours indeed started moving into that direction, but the next one usually defused the situation by reverting the idiot policy, thus bringing back international goodwill. So, although we do have lots of internal social issues, at least one we don't have is the entirely optional one of terrorism, which we avoid by the quite simple expedient of not pissing people off.

    What doesn't mean avoiding legitimate wars when they present themselves. The trick here is to not start them. Keeping to oneself does wonders in that regards too. The other country has a dictator you despise? Don't mess there, it isn't your problem. It has a dictator you like who's going to be overthrown? Don't mess there, it isn't your problem. There are troops marching into your borders. Oh, now you go and mess there.

    How hard can that be?

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.