Germany to Tap Migrant Phones to Tackle Asylum Fraud

Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty

Germany has drafted a new law allowing authorities to tap into the phone and computer data of migrants to confirm their nationalities and tackle immigration and benefit fraud.

The Interior Ministry, which authored the draft bill with the Justice Ministry, estimated that more than 50 per cent of the 280,000 asylum applications in 2016 should have undergone closer scrutiny.

According to the draft bill, obtained by Reuters, officials at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) will receive legal clearance to scan the cellphones, tablets and laptops of applicants for asylum.

BAMF officials have said many present false documents in the hope of being granted asylum. During the height of the migrant crisis, one undercover reporter revealed that 80 per cent of those seeking asylum in the country had no official papers.

Currently, officials have to rely on language experts to try and determine the true origins of applicants, as they have no legal authority to examine devices in the nation where privacy data protection is held in extremely high regard.

“We need to establish the identities of the applicants,” Volker Bouffier, the state premier in Hesse and a conservative ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel told Reuters.

“To eliminate any doubts of a person’s origin, we need to use all information available.”

The tough new measures have appeared in the run-up to Germany’s elections on the 24th of September, with many voters concerned about immigration.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is running for a fourth term, and after allowing more than a million unchecked migrants into Germany in 2016 is desperate to appear tougher on the issue.

At the end of last year, Mr. Merkel surprised many by announcing she believes the full Islamic face veil or “burqa” has no place in her country and should be banned.

Just last week, it was revealed the German government will allocate the country’s entire six billion euro budget surplus of 2016 to migrants after the two coalition parties failed to agree on how to spend it.