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Secret services ramp up online surveillance

The Local · 25 Feb 2012, 13:26

Published: 25 Feb 2012 13:26 GMT+01:00

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“Bomb,” “nuclear” and “rocket” were all keywords used by German intelligence agencies to flag up and monitor 37,292,862 emails and data connections last year, the Bild newspaper reported on Saturday.

The figures came from a report by the Parliamentary Control Commission, which oversees the activities of the country's secret services.

Three authorities, the domestic intelligence the Verfassungsschutz, the foreign spy agency the BND and the Military Counter-intelligence Service currently have access to online communications data in order to identify terrorists, arms dealers or traffickers.

Over the course of one year German intelligence agencies plugged in around 2,000 keywords relating to terrorism, 13,000 weapons dealing terms and 300 on trafficking. Despite this large scale mass surveillance, the operation only led to valuable information in just 213 cases.

The parliamentary report was published just hours after Friday’s ruling by the German Constitutional Court demanded a change in the law on authorities accessing user passwords.

Story continues below…

The court ruled that existing law on the storage and access to user names, passwords and PIN codes by intelligence agencies was a breach of the basic right to privacy of personal information guaranteed in the German constitution. Lawmakers have until June 2013 to clarify the rules.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:26 February 25, 2012 by pepsionice
Considering the thought that a quarter of all Germans probably don't use the internet, period. And most kids under twelve barely use the internet......then you got pretty good odds that every single German has a chance of being 'checked-out'.
15:20 February 25, 2012 by Englishted

My child is under 12 and every child in the class uses the internet for chatting etc.

and I don't think it would be that rare ,but maybe you are right .
15:52 February 25, 2012 by moshe rosen
Well, this blows the heels off of the German "right to privacy"!
18:31 February 25, 2012 by Wobinidan
If the STASI had access to the internet, this is probably what they would do with it.
20:27 February 25, 2012 by lucksi
Makes you wonder if the privacy law concerning snail mail is still in effect or if they are opening letters and scanning them as well.
13:17 February 26, 2012 by raandy
Internet and handys are routinely monitored in Germany. If you want something to be completely private don't use either.
13:51 February 27, 2012 by jg.
I thought keyword detectors were so last year since some kids started using things like echelonSig (a script to automatically generate a sig at the end of each outgoing email, filled with "interesting" words).

Maybe they would have more success checking what forums people are reading and what they are posting or downloading.
17:35 February 27, 2012 by murka
I remember a couple of years back an official report by the secret service stated that 300 phone conversations originating or terminating abroad are listened to.

I guess the explanation of the number is: there are just 300 desks with headphones and a switch, with employees working in shifts.
02:45 February 28, 2012 by DavidtheNorseman
@Wobinidan - except that STASI would have been looking for bad words like, "freedom", "liberty", and "shopping" ................. Hello Secret Police Folks!
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