Germany Ready to Undermine Encryption in Terror Fight

Germany Ready to Undermine Encryption in Terror Fight

Germany has become the latest Western nation to signal its intent to undermine encryption in the name of preventing terrorism.

Central and state-level ministers have apparently expressed dismay that terrorists are using apps such as WhatsApp and Signal to communicate out of the reach of the authorities.

“We can't allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law", said interior minister Thomas de Maiziere, according to Reuters.

He reportedly added that Berlin is planning a new law which will effectively give the authorities the right to view private messages.

It’s not known how the government intends to achieve its ends. It’s unlikely it would be able to force companies like Apple and Facebook to put backdoors in their products or services and a ban is most likely unworkable.

One option being mooted is "source telecom surveillance", where the authorities would force telecoms providers to install software on their customers’ devices which effectively bypasses the encrypted app to intercept messages before they are scrambled.

Germany has suffered its fair share of terror incidents of late, most notably when a lorry ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin last December, killing 12.

However, the country has always been resistant to heavy-handed state surveillance given what it endured under the Nazis and in East Germany after the war.

The UK, on the other hand, appears to be blazing a trail with its Investigatory Powers Act, widely regarded as granting the most intrusive state surveillance powers of any Western democracy.

The Australian government is said to be considering implementing its own version of the law, while the European Commission has indicated it is willing to introduce legislation which would undermine end-to-end encryption.

Security experts maintain that doing so would fail to have the intended effect, as terrorists will migrate to more secure platforms, while ordinary users and businesses are left exposed.

Source: Information Security Magazine