Security

Outrage over Germany's plan for "policeware"


Germany's plan for policewareYou might recall that we ran a story about two months ago on a CNET News.com survey. In Warning: Police spyware detected!, News.com approached various antispyware vendors on their willingness to hide police-sanctioned spyware, or "policeware."

As noted in the article, the impromptus for the survey came about as a result of the deployment of policeware. Federal agents in the United States were utilizing a keystroke logger to thwart the encryption used by a suspected ecstasy manufacturer. Indeed, it is a topic that many TR members feel strongly about, judging from the more than 200 comments posted.

Well, it appears that this growing propensity towards police spyware it not limited to the United States alone. In fact, it appears to have crossed the Atlantic to Europe. According to Ars Technica, a scandal is brewing in Germany as revelations spread that the German government has plans to use Trojans as well as other form of malware to spy on and track "persons of interests."

Excerpt from Ars Technica:

News of the plan was leaked last week and reported widely in Germany… The idea is backed by the office of Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

The "policeware," when successfully installed, would be used to monitor the communications of suspected terrorists, as well as allow for remote searching of the PC's contents.

In fact, it might be of interest that Germany is pointing to the United S. as an example of where the use of policeware is justifiable, citing the 2001 case.

To read more:

Much of the information pertaining to the insertion vector for the proposed policeware remains classified. However, speculations abound that the most common of these tools run only on Windows.

If that is proven to be the case, will run-on-Windows-only-policeware influence your decision to switch to Linux and/or Mac OS X?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

11 comments
archangelwade
archangelwade

A reasonable justification for such intrusions to privacy should remain with those who there is probable cause to detect. Can't accept everyday citizens to not be tempted if they are dishonest and honest citizens only concern is who, how and why.

dawgit
dawgit

Yet. X-( There is a lot of heat created by that bit of Hot Air being created in Berlin. It will end up in the courts. (and unenforceable anyway) -d

CCrabtree
CCrabtree

Wouldn't it have crossed the Atlantic, as the Pacific would be between Asia and the US? ^^;

joe.paluka
joe.paluka

Well, looks like the author failed that Geography course. Unless the Policeware is also walking across two other continents to get to Europe. Uhmm, that would be the Atlantic to Europe. Must be a Eubonics taught, West Coast author....

paulmah
paulmah

I had this feeling that I got something wrong somewhere in the article, but did not pursue it. Looks like I'm paying for it now. By the way, the truth might be worst than you thought. I took history instead of geography in school. :) (Edited "Pacific" to "Atlantic" in posting)

dawgit
dawgit

Their masters in China first. (probably to get directions, from the Penta-gone, now located in China) :0 -d

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

a Southern CA native. Since the rest of the world revolves around Los Angeles... ;)

paulmah
paulmah

Will run-on-Windows only policeware influence your decision to switch to Linux and/or Mac OS X?

NaughtyMonkey
NaughtyMonkey

Linux and Windows. I don't believe any intelligent IT professional would make a Windows/Linux decision based on how the police may monitor. The decision should be based on which OS is right for the job. It might however determine what security products they use to protect their systems. If a certain company lets the policeware run free, then what is to stop some bright individual from figuring out how it determines whether or not to block it and develop his spyware and viruses around that.

royhayward
royhayward

It may not influence what OS, but I will be looking now to see what police-ware clauses are in my anti-spyware software. If you want my business, then you are going to put a big label up that says, "Even blocking and cleaning Police-Ware!"

phasley
phasley

I believe that you hit the nail right on the head here NaughtyMonkey. If any security product companies out there are foolish enough to ignore the policeware it will only be a matter of time before someone is able to exploit that vulnerability, because let's face it...it is a vulnerability. I shudder to think of what could happen if all of the security companies bow down and allow it to run free.