The German government wants to force tech firms and car manufacturers to hand security services hidden digital access to private cars, computers, phones, and more.
Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has drafted a proposal for the interior minister conference next week, in which he calls for “the legal duty for third parties to allow for secret surveillance”.
According to Redaktions Netzwerk Deutschland (RND), the proposal would “dramatically extend” the state’s powers to spy on its citizens.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for security services to break into digital devices over time, as technology advances and ever more sophisticated security systems to protect privacy are added to devices.
Some electric keys for modern cars are now so advanced they can notify the owner when the vehicle is merely shaken.
The interior minister wants to be able to disable this feature when the state thinks it is justified to interfere with a private car as part of a criminal investigation.
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However, the law could potentially go much further, critics warn.
Mr. de Maizière also wants the security services to have the ability to spy on any device connected to the internet and is demanding tech companies give the state “backdoor” access to tablets and computers and smart TVs.
“The Interior Minister’s plans sound like an Orwellian nightmare. Soon all flats in Germany will be equipped with devices which are potential wiretaps,” Konstantin von Notz, deputy faction leader of the Green Party, told Der Spiegel.
“We need to think really hard about the fact that we are a country with two dictatorships in its recent history,” he added.
“Do we want to live in a land where there is no privacy and where the state can interfere wherever it is technologically possible?” he asked.
The draft law is “a frontal attack on the digital and physical security of all citizens”, Frank Rieger, spokesman for the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) told netzpolitik.org.
“Access to the IT system of a car means danger to life and limb – It is a literal kill switch,” he added.