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Encryption Privacy IT Technology

Germany Plans To Fingerprint Children and Spy On Personal Messages (fortune.com) 225

From a report: Germany is planning a new law giving authorities the right to look at private messages and fingerprint children as young as 6, the interior minister said on Wednesday after the last government gathering before a national election in September. Ministers from central government and federal states said encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Signal, allow militants and criminals to evade traditional surveillance. "We can't allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law," interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in the eastern town of Dresden.
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Germany Plans To Fingerprint Children and Spy On Personal Messages

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  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @01:55PM (#54619831) Journal
    I thought Germany was one of the countries that valued privacy, the 'right to be forgotten' on the Internet, etc? How come all of the sudden they sound like the UK?
    • by fazig ( 2909523 )
      Because the article fails to mention that this particular idea is intended for immigrants and refugees from Islamic countries. You know, the entire foreigners commit a lot more crimes than others and therefore don't deserve the same basic human rights schtick.
      Federal elections are coming up very soon and this would be one attempt to win over voters that rather want to feel safe than free. This is spurred by two major things, the recent terror attacks in Europe, which politicians use as leverage to win over
    • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @04:18PM (#54621439)

      They do. The summary left out key details. a) the encryption thing is still covered under the same warrants and rules that apply to any other police interaction and b) they are only fingerprinting asylum seekers, non Germans, and the change is that they are proposing to change this age from 14 years old to 6 years old.

    • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @06:52PM (#54622511)

      German interior ministers immediately lose their minds when coming into office and start to look up what the Nazis did to keep the population under control and then try to find ways to improve on that. It is not known what causes the effect, but the current office-holder is even more affected than usual, probably because he has no useful skills at all.

  • by fish_in_the_c ( 577259 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @01:57PM (#54619863)

    ""We can't allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law,"
    And this in the country where if it weren't possible for many to be outside the law they would have been killed.
    Isn't it better to shield citizens from the political apprentice and let criminals go free then to risk what may happen when the wrong group takes power? But the German's are a different culture. So trusting of government. The way my aunt who lived there for a while put it is ' The German people believe police officers never lie, which works pretty well so long as the police officers continue to believe they never lie too.'

  • Worked well for them last time.

  • So because it would politically incorrect to you know not let the militants into the country in the first place they will just abolish basic freedoms instead.

    Pathetic.

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      Its pretty politically incorrect to abolish basic freedoms as well. But I mean, as long as you can wrap it in a coating of "AMG terrorists!" we seem pretty willing to get those in power do whatever they want. This is not a new phenomena, and its hardly limited to Germany. The US and UK have been (publicly and proudly) doing shit like this for years now, and many other countries that we hear less about aren't exactly far behind.

  • "We can't allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law," interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in the eastern town of Dresden.

    Or as Mussolini said "Everything in the State, nothing outside the State".

  • From TFA:

    Among the options Germany is considering is "source telecom surveillance", where authorities install software on phones to relay messages before they are encrypted. That is now illegal.

    Wow, just wow. This is something you'd expect from China, not somewhere in the supposedly enlightened western civilization. It's things like this which make me think maybe those second amendment nuts really aren't so crazy. Give up one right, and pretty soon it's a slippery slope right to big brother being installed on your phone.

    • One of tThe key differences between totalitarian societies and free societies is the rights of individuals are not compromised just to make things easier for the State.

      A right guaranteed by a constitution may be a hindrance to those elected to conduct the people's business, but it's one that must remain if the society is to remain free.

  • Between this and Merkel turning the EU into the fourth reich. It's like the one country is composed of Bond villains.

    • Between this and Merkel turning the EU into the fourth reich. It's like the one country is composed of Bond villains.

      American's can't help themselves but to read garbage summaries not at all related about what is happening and drawing conclusions about them.

  • Well, at least half the country should be used to this environment.
    • This is depressing, one of the things the bad guys want is to get rid of the all the freedoms in the west...and they're getting us to do it.

      Notice it talks about putting OS level monitoring software to relay everything typed etc. to the "good guys" to get around message encryption - the whole tech world looks like upgraded ankle bracelets to our governments.
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @02:39PM (#54620297)

    German gouvernment is planning to pass a law that requires messaging services such as WhatsApp to be monitorable like phonecalls should a court order requested by the authorities give them the permission to do so in order to fight crime.

    There, FTFY.

    Like many politicians German politicians too have little clue about how the internet and computers work, but that's no reason to write headlines that are so sensationalist that they are flat out wrong.

    My 2 cents.

    • by kwerle ( 39371 )

      Holy crap - thank you for pointing that out.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      German gouvernment is planning to pass a law that requires messaging services such as WhatsApp to be monitorable like phonecalls should a court order requested by the authorities give them the permission to do so in order to fight crime. There, FTFY. Like many politicians German politicians too have little clue about how the internet and computers work, but that's no reason to write headlines that are so sensationalist that they are flat out wrong.

      I doubt they're that ignorant. WhatsApp will tell them the system doesn't work that way, it's all end-to-end encrypted by the clients and they don't have the keys. The government will tell them that's not our problem, change your system to comply with the law or get banned/fined/jailed. And don't think asking the clients to send an extra copy to WhatsApp will suffice, the only way it can be implemented is if WhatsApp MITMs everything then only gives the police what they have a warrant for. Just like with th

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Germany does not always need the keys just the full cooperation to find the users of encryption. Full device access to a gov from a networked device is good too.
        Germany will get legal court documents and present them to any band or telco in Germany.
        The brand will then have to offer a front door, a trap door to be able to keep offering products and services in Germany.

        If the code is free on the internet and been used? The user is good at trade craft? All Germany will need to find that user and their c
    • Nope they are well aware how they work, which is why they are looking at things like requiring back doors on the source devices to intercept before the encryption takes place.

      Also the rest of the headline is wrong too. They are only fingerprinting asylum seekers, and they are proposing changing that limit from 14 yrs down to 6 yrs.

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      should a court order requested by the authorities give them the permission to do so in order to fight crime.

      That part might is definitely important from a legal perspective, but technologically its still a clusterfuck. If the encryption can be broken at all, for any reason, then it can potentially be broken by hackers. And so far, history indicates that "potentially broken by hackers" is only a handful of days away from "has been broken by hackers."

    • The part about the mass fingerprinting is misleading, as well. Refugees, or better stated, those who claim to be refugees, need to register with the German government authorities, and present an application requesting asylum. This can take a few years to process, and the system is extremely overwhelmed now. Only folks from certain "dangerous" countries are considered.

      If you are from somewhere "safe", you will be turned back immediately. So a lot of folks just toss away any identification that they have

  • It seems that german history is going to repeat itself again [wikipedia.org] and again [wikipedia.org].
  • People have been speaking in code and enciphering messages since beginning of civilization and will continue to do so as they please regardless of impediments erected by their governments.

    From "lets get a pizza" = meet me at 5:00 PM at the square to exchange drugs, weapons and unstable ordinance.

    To 6 year old children knowing how to encrypt and decrypt messages over ANY communication medium using a pencil, paper and codebook.

    You can't stop it no matter what you do. The only thing anti-encryption and governm

  • You would think, in the interests of thoroughness that they would also require the recording of all conversations at all times. I am sure that there are a lot of conversations happening that are 'outside of the law'.
  • One cannot post images of public places in Germany for privacy reasons. Yet it's perfectly fine to collect fingerprints. Weird.
    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      "One" is not the same as "the government." Governments, not just in Germany but everywhere and pretty much by definition, have many powers that are not entrusted to individuals and even a few that we haven't yet entrusted to corporations.

      If you personally went around fingerprinting 6 year olds, you would probably find yourself in a fair bit of trouble regardless of the powers the government gives to itself.

    • Because of the US after 9/11 all of Europe is issuing passports only with biometric info, aka fingerprints.

      What exactly is your point?

  • Just another evidence pointing out we're right at the turning point for totalitarian regimes sprouting once again in response to a politics of fear and complacency from citizens. Time is a flat circle.

  • Clever word crafting. They want to soften the blow of invasive privacy violations with the word "traditional". Traditional surveillance is a stake-out, or phone tapping with a warrant. Traditional surveillance is not monitoring all communication and movement of the entire citizenry.

  • You already can't listen in on physically private conversations, like two people in a room you couldn't bug ahead of time, or any of the zillion ways spies and terrorists have passed messages in the past. It's hardly new that there are ways to communicate that can't be intercepted or monitored, it's just more convenient now. At least now security agencies can often tell if communication has occurred.

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