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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  • identicon
    Rocky, 5 Dec 2017 @ 3:47am

    Spelling error

    There is a spelling error in the article, it says 'written up a draft proposal' which I suppose should be 'written up a daft proposal'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 5:50am

      Re: Spelling error

      The article says "back doors" when Thomas de Maizière actually means "responsible back doors".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 6:02am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Cdaragorn (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 7:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Spelling error

          He obviously doesn't understand magic. I mean how many times have we watched magic blocks busted wide open by those smart enough to trick the magic or even just strong enough to blast their way through it?

          Magic locks are the worst.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 3:50am

    Chinese influence

    It almost sounds like the likes of these traitors is some useful "nice people" (as sites tend to censor the I-word) trying to soften the public up for some tyranny-friendly policies. They keep flinging 'stuff' until it sticks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 4:15am

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

    I've always found the way these statements are worded peculiar. It's as if the implication is that you have to consider yourself an activist to be astonished by such things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 4:19am

      Re:

      Actually it's worse, as reporters go to politicians and activists to get reactions, and report their opinions as though they represent the public.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 4:31am

    Just another tactic

    Not surprising. It'll be referred back to for years.

    "Yes, we're bugging parts of your car - but if THIS had passed, it would be so much WORSE!"

    "We don't want to be intrusive like THIS suggestion was, we just want reasonable access for law enforcement..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 4:57am

    Well, maybe he just forgot to mention his role model.

    New Heinrich Müller.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    McGyver (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 5:32am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 6:12am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 6:00am

    Light Bulbs

    Not just a bright idea any more! Now also a police DDOS tool!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 6:20am

    What do you expect from a country that started two world wars and tried to exterminate a religion?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 6:25am

    yeah

    you first

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 7:39am

      Re: yeah

      > you first

      Sad but true...like every politician and tinpot dictator out there, the rules aren't enforceable for those in the high-class, only those in the low-class. Imagine if they actually pushed this stuff out to their own devices...it would be a self-fixing problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 9:20am

        Re: Re: yeah

        it's like we have no say in how they rule over us...

        every nation gets the government it deserves after all.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John E Cressman, 5 Dec 2017 @ 6:35am

    Really?

    Is a German government official REALLY asking for an Internet Gestapo?! Because the original Gestapo worked out so well... oh wait... no, it really didn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 7:06am

    And you all thought...

    ... the IOT devices were accidentally unsecured... looks like they were just planning ahead...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 7:56am

      Re: And you all thought...

      The IOT mess today is just a glimpse into what will happen next when these idiots force their outrageous evil plans upon the unsuspecting public. It will make the internet totally unusable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 7:18am

    Good News!

    Everything connected tot he internet is riddled with back doors already...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 7:18am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 8:23am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JustMe (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 8:30am

    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.


    ==
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/east-german-domestic-surveillance-went-far-beyond-the- stasi-a-1042883.html

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-germany-legacy-of-stasi-puts-different-p erspective-on-nsa-spying/2013/11/18/a0b1b37c-4940-11e3-b87a-e66bd9ff3537_story.html?utm_term=.81a770 6197e1

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi

    ==
    http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/b/black-ibm.html

    http:/ /www.americanheritage.com/content/hitler-and-ibm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    An Onymous Coward (profile), 5 Dec 2017 @ 8:42am

    Dear Interior Secretary Thomas de Maizière,

    Fuck you.

    Sincerely,
    The World

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2017 @ 8:51am

    And yet, there's the noyb story just below this one....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2017 @ 1:48am

    Just use an Intel processor

    The minister can use an Intel processor...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2017 @ 11:48am

    Thomas de Maizière must be a Stasi member.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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