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Data protector 'cannot check police spyware'

The Local · 12 Sep 2012, 12:18

Published: 12 Sep 2012 12:18 GMT+02:00

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The Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper reported on Wednesday that Peter Schaar, the government’s data protection commissioner, was unable to check the Trojan program being used by the federal criminal police (BKA).

Schaar wrote in a letter that he was unable to check whether the spyware is doing more than it should and could – and that the BKA did not have the source code of the programs supplied by the company DigiTask.

He had been asked by the parliamentary domestic affairs committee to look into the controversial spyware – but he told the committee’s chairman Wolfgang Bosbach he could not do so.

“The manufacturers have made access dependent on contractual agreements, which I cannot accept,” wrote Schaar, adding that the firm was demanding he sign a legal gagging clause, and would charge €1,200 a day for the access. The BKA has said it would not pay.

He said he was unable to look at the source code in order to check it for legal data protection concerns, and said the BKA should have insisted the code be included in its order for the spyware.

DigiTask earns several hundred thousand euros from the state each year, the Frankfurter Rundschau said.

“An investigation method must be above all legal suspicion. We only want software which can do what it is allowed to do. I would understand if the data protection commissioner complains,” said Bosbach.

The Trojan spyware was hacked and heavily criticised last year by IT experts from the Chaos Computer Club, an association of computer and privacy experts.

Story continues below…

The program allows security forces to monitor people’s computers and, it is alleged, to engage in unconstitutional activities such as controlling the camera and microphone of someone’s computer.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:29 September 12, 2012 by Onlythetruth
Of course! Everybody is pointing fingers at everyone else but the truth is that the german state wants to be able to see what you are doing with your computer so no one will admit responsibility for not publicizing a defense.
13:49 September 12, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
Just over 20 years ago, people were aghast at the extent to which East Germany had perfected the surveillance state. And people felt a sense of relief that this kind of all-encompassing spying on your own citizens was going to be consigned to history.

And now, only about two decades later, the modern world must be a Stasi official's wet dream... sure, most of the time, you don't have people physically staking you out and following you around anymore and keeping hand typed files on you, like in the award-winning movie "Das Leben der Anderen"... but then, with today's technology, you don't have to anymore. All you need to do is pull that person's file which has been generated automatically by a person's online activities (think data retention, or more recently, mass mobile phone cell queries as carried out illegally by the governments in Saxony and Hamburg) Or you slip them a trojan on their computer.

It's shocking when you think that today's world is more and more becoming a continuation of the East German stasi state.
15:02 September 12, 2012 by mos101392
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
16:23 September 12, 2012 by Frenemy
looool. People still believe in online privacy??!! ROFL/LMFAO. the idea of online anonymity died the second "echelon" (yeah, ppl still actually call it that) went online back in the late '80s. Some people just can't be disabused of their ignorance/naivety...quite sad really.

Oh yeah, and hidemyass/shieldsup/etc aint gonna help you against "big bro" (NSA/GCHQ/etc tech capabilities are damned scary)...
18:17 September 12, 2012 by mos101392

You're right ofcourse but why make it too easy for them. Secure VPN, Firewall, antivirus, bot/spam remover ect.
08:50 September 13, 2012 by BobbyDigital
What is a "secure VPN" or hidemyass.com going to do against this? You obviously do not know what you are talking about.

When they install this trojan on your PC, it doesnt matter what you use, it is operating FROM your PC, and I assume there is no antivirus/antimalware software that knows about this trojan, thus it cannot be detected.
11:13 September 13, 2012 by jg.
"... I assume there is no antivirus/antimalware software that knows about this trojan, thus it cannot be detected."

That would be incorrect, AFAIK, most antivirus software can currently detect/remove it. Of course, new variants can be released into the wild at any time and these may not be detected for a while. However, the more comprehensive antivirus packages have measures to limit the possibilities for files downloaded from the Internet and to detect/prevent behaviour like that of a virus or trojan for all unknown programs.
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