German Courts Say That Info On Your Computer Is Private

from the just-say-nein dept

The German government has been pushing for the ability to spy on computers of suspected criminals and terrorists. A little over a year ago, a court came down firmly against a proposal to allow German authorities to use spyware on computers of suspected criminals to gather information. Now another German court has ruled on a similar issue, noting that using surveillance systems to spy on personal computers would be a violation of privacy rights. While German authorities are already complaining about how this will make it difficult for them to catch criminals and terrorists, it sounds like they are overreacting. Courts will still be able to approve such surveillance if authorities can show evidence of why the surveillance is needed. This seems completely reasonable, as laws shouldn't be made solely to make it easy to catch criminals. They should be made to protect the rights of individuals. When those two things come into conflict, the rights of individuals should prevail.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 3:18pm

    Wow, what a strange and interesting new concept. Personal files on your personal computer are Private? Who would have thought such a thing?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 3:28pm

    So what you're saying is that even in Germany the government needs to get a warrant. Fascinating.

     

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    Le Blue Dude, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 4:00pm

    Um... not even in...

    Germany is kinda... well... a bit fanatic about maintaining certain freedoms... because you see... they had this insane dictator... who gassed people... In concentration camps... and they still remember this... and, well... the USA hasn't yet had that happen... so we're kinda less good about protecting our own freedoms then Germany is... so it's not 'even' at all, it's 'especially'.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Um... not even in...

    "Um" nope, "even". Even in Germany where you can be arrested for the statement "the holocaust didn't happen", even in Germany where you can be arrested for wearing a swastika, even in Germany where this comment is outlawed because it makes the aforementioned statement in a forum people in Germany can read-- the government needs to get a warrant.

    Like I said, fascinating.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Um... not even in...

    Godwin's Law.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Re: Um... not even in...

    Godwin's Law doesn't apply here (yet.) No one has compared anything to Hitler/Nazi behavior. Mentioning Nazis historically or as a reason for something isn't Godwin's law. If the comment read along the lines of "our government is like Nazism", THAT would be Godwin's Law. And damn you, by making me explain it, I've now invoked it.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 5:04pm

    I find it amusing that the police are claiming that without this new ability, finding criminals will somehow become "difficult". Even though they've never had this ability before.

    Are they implying that with this ability, catching criminals would be really easy, or are they implying that at the moment they suck at their job?

     

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  8.  
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    Terrible, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 5:04pm

    I can't believe the immediate stereotyping Germans with nazi times here. The Germans smoke any country with knowledge in any field so keep having fun with this OLD crap with thinking nothing but the nazis when you hear the word German or Germany. The Germans are by the way very remorseful for what happened and there is strict anti-nazi laws in place that enforce against any publication of any sort nazi-related material.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 5:10pm

    Re:

    Did you even read the comments you're complaining about, or did you just see the word "nazi" and go off on a rant? Because you should probably re-read them and try to take in their actual meaning.

     

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  10.  
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    Coaster, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 5:20pm

    well...okay...

    So, from what I got out of this, Germany has decided that putting spyware on someone's computer "just in case" isn't a good idea and they won't do it. Unless they have a warrant, thats something else.

    Also, I got that any article involving Germany and their laws makes Americans think about Nazis. Which isn't quite Godwin's Law, except for #6 lol.

    I don't see what was newsworthy here. Did we somehow expect them to think it was a Good Idea to randomly install spyware just in case? I didn't think that Americans were THAT narrowminded about other countries.

     

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    Alfred E. Neuman, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 5:53pm

    activeX or javascript ?

    "Authorities would be allowed to spy on suspects' computers using virus software in exceptional cases, according to the ruling. "

    how do they intent to get this installed without the perps knowledge ?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 6:00pm

    Re: activeX or javascript ?

    Or, more importantly, if they have enough knowledge about illegal doings to class them as an "exceptional case", why do they need spyware to begin with?

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 28th, 2008 @ 5:25am

    Re #10 Coaster

    It is related to technology, being the spyware. And the fact that Germany said no to warrantless spying.

    It is also relevant to todays times where a lot of the politicians and law enforcements just want to say "everyone is a criminal, or could be, so we should monitor them all" and invade everyone's privacy no matter what the cost. Which is of course wrong.

    It is good to hear this news that is good and moves in the right direction. Won't matter how many times I hear news like this, as long as some countries are moving in an opposite direction, I will gladly welcome this news.

     

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    Overcast, Feb 28th, 2008 @ 1:33pm

    Terrorists can use a pen and paper to communicate as well. Should government be allowed to search your home and person for 'written notes' as well?

    Finally good to see some sense in all of this...

     

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  15.  
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    R. Paul Waddington, Feb 28th, 2008 @ 2:31pm

    It's already happening!

    Guys, the German Government is only trying to do what some major software developers are already doing; they sell you business software which they use to install Trojans onto your systems. This is happening NOW why the worry about the government; 'private' industry and individuals within those companies are more likely to cause privacy issues.
    Maybe someone in Germany would like to ask their courts to rule on what is already going on in industry!

     

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