intelligence agencies have stopped secret Internet monitoring of suspects'
Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble faced massive criticism this week after it
was revealed that German intelligence agencies were secretly snooping on
terrorism suspects via the Internet. Schäuble has ordered a temporary halt
to the practice.
agencies have monitored suspects' computers via the Internet for two years,
according to members of the Bundestag's interior affairs committee.
from all political parties questioned the legality of the practice. Critics say
the secret searches violate Article 13 of the German basic law, which governs
However, a special
law already exists in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia which allows
computers to be searched without their owners' knowledge.
Germany's interior intelligence agency, the
Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has been accessing
private data via the Internet since June, 2005. The prior interior minister,
Otto Schily, altered regulations to allow it. According to the Chancellor's
office, a decision by the German Federal Court in January, 2007, which allowed
for online data searches to be prosecuted, does not apply to the Federal
Intelligence Service (BND).
But politicians argue that Schily's regulations do not provide a sustainable
legal foundation for Internet spying.
Politicians from other
parties have maintained scepticism over the necessity of the program and have
expressed concern that it violates privacy.
Berlin's state interior minister, Ehrhart
Körting, said the practice was not very efficient, because it catches only the
least sophisticated computer users who don't know how to defend against
so-called trojan programs.