German Government Official Wants Backdoors In Every Device Connected To The Internet

from the bring-back-the-old-Germany-we-know-and-hate! dept

The US Department of Justice is reviving its anti-encryption arguments despite not being given any signals from the administration or Congress that undermining encryption is something either entity desires. The same thing is happening in Germany, with Interior Secretary Thomas de Maizière continuing an anti-encryption crusade very few German government officials seem interested in joining.

The key difference in de Maizière’s push is that he isn’t limiting potential backdoors to cell phones. He appears to believe anything connected to the internet should be backdoored… possibly even the cars German citizens drive. (h/t Riana Pfefferkorn)

The RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) reported that Thomas de Maizière had written up a draft proposal for the interior minister conference, taking place next week in Leipzig, which he has called “the legal duty for third parties to allow for secret surveillance.”

According to the RND, the proposal would “dramatically extend” the state’s powers to spy on its citizens.

And it’s not just backdoors being suggested. De Maizière wants all electronics to be law enforcement-complicit. All things — especially those connected to the internet — should be constructed with government access in mind.

For example, the modern locking systems on cars are so intelligent that they even warn a driver if their car is shaken a little bit. De Maizière wants the new law to ensure that these alerts would not be sent out to a car owner if the police determined it to be justified by their investigation.

De Maizière wants the government to be able to intercept and block notifications sent from cars to the people that own them. But it’s far more than smarter cars being compromised on behalf of the government. If de Maizière gets his way, it will be every connected device everywhere.

De Maizière also wants the security services to have the ability to spy on any device connected to the internet. Tech companies would have to give the state “back door” access to private tablets and computers, and even to smart TVs and digital kitchen systems.

It’s rare for government officials to blatantly state citizens should be under surveillance at all times. Craftier politicians tend to use less direct rhetoric, even if they aspire to the same goals. This blatant call for mass surveillance of millions of innocent people has provoked a reaction from de Maizière’s colleagues, although probably not the one he was looking for.

The proposal was met with astonishment by digital activists and politicians on Friday.

De Maizière seems blissfully unaware Germany was once home to a powerful dictator who killed millions of his own citizens while deploying a secret police force. And once that period ended, part of Germany rolled directly into a program of intense domestic surveillance utilizing the Stasi — one of the most brutally effective secret police forces ever wielded by a government against its own people. De Maizière’s proposal is so tone deaf — given the history of the nation he serves — it’s tempting to believe he’s an under-recognized satirist. But de Maizière seems completely serious. Fortunately for Germans, no one else seems to take de Maizière quite as seriously as he does.

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Comments on “German Government Official Wants Backdoors In Every Device Connected To The Internet”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Spelling error

No, he means “magical back doors”, as in the kind that only the “good guys” can access.

Same with every other politician advocating this kind of thing, the idea tends to collapse when you take magic out of the equation. Sadly their response tends to be to tell the people meant to implement them that they’re not practicing the magical arts enough.

McGyver (profile) says:

How does it escape even the simplest mindset, that if you create one unlocked door in everyone’s home, that pretty quickly the real bad guys will find a way of defeating or getting around that, (which they are probably already anticipating or have already made better plans for) and only the law abiding citizens will suffer when other bad guys use that unlocked door. I can’t imagine anyone up to real no good still operating like it was 2005 anymore. What bad actors would be that stupid that anyone can still get a treasure trove of Intel from their phone or computer anymore? And what good Intel comes from people that stupid? What effort does it take for bad to not buy IOT devices… I hardly see terrorists using IOT juicers and Roombas…
I can however see certain politicians who are “encouraged” by IOT manufacturers to advocate everything should be IOT connected for everyone’s safety.
It’s time we humans start electing representatives that can actually think clearly and stop going for whomever can flail their arms and shout the loudest.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Safety and efficiency are of no concern to him, only more power for the state (and his department).
This is the guy who pushed for harsh data rentention laws after the terrorist attacks in france, ignoring that france had a similar law that didn’t prevent anything.
Then he pushed for an even harsher version right after the EU just ruled against this type of law.

Ninja (profile) says:

This article managed to nail Godwin’s Law in the headline. Amazing.

The problem is that probably Hitler wouldn’t have found an audience for his ideas outside of the context of his time. Pop a few terror attacks in Germany and people may start thinking twice. This type of moron has to be metaphorically killed in the nest. And yet he is inside the govt.

Sure he is kind of a laughingstock. So was Trump.

Anonymous Coward says:

This would be great news for terrorists

They wouldn’t have to spend time and money and resources looking for exploitable security holes, because they’d be included in every device as it rolls off the assembly lines. Their task would reduce to the far simpler task of figuring out to utilize the bugs that they already know are there.

So if I were one of the bad guys, I’d stop working on technical issues for moment, and use my resources (including sockpuppets on social media) to do everything possible to see that this becomes law.

And THEN I would get to work.

JustMe (profile) says:

Actually, East Germany would be a more apt comparison

Given the Stasi’s ability to co-opt nearly half of the population to spy on the other half (and each other).

Also, because I like pointing fingers, simply collating all of the data provided to the Stasi would have required vast amounts of computing power… almost like IBM selling computers to the Nazi regime.



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