German Government To Gain Access to Private Messengers

  • The document was sent to the German Parliament for the approval.
  • German Interior and Justice Ministers have said that security services should have at their disposal the same level of technology as the criminals they are pursuing.
  • The German opposition is concerned that the bill weakens human rights protection.

The German government has approved a bill allowing intelligence agencies to “listen” to encrypted messages of users of messengers like WhatsApp in order to fight terrorism, according to SecurityWeek. Users of these apps may have their future and past messages searched if the bill passes.

WhatsApp platform for messaging and Voice over IP service.

WhatsApp introduced total end-to-end encryption, in which no one except the participants in the exchange of messages can decrypt data-neither hackers, nor law enforcement agencies, nor WhatsApp employees. WhatsApp, end-to-end encryption was introduced by most messengers.

WhatsApp Messenger is an American freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP service owned by Facebook, Inc. There are over 1.6 billion WhatsApp users that  access the app on a monthly basis. WhatsApp was downloaded 96 million times in February 2020.

WhatsApp is available in more than 180 countries and 60 different languages. With 340 million users, India is WhatsApp’s biggest market. India does cooperate with International governments pertaining release of private information for the purposes of the investigations.

The question ponders, would WhatsApp leave Germany, due to the forced privacy elimination of its users and will others follow?

The document was sent to the Parliament for the approval. If such bill is passed, that would mean that it would allow the security services to monitor not only current correspondence, but also encrypted messages sent earlier, using “spyware”.

German Interior and Justice Ministers have said that security services should have at their disposal the same level of technology as the criminals they are pursuing. The  access to encrypted conversations by attackers can prevent a crime. Hence, it would mean that Germany would be able to invade privacy of individuals. It would be inline with the UK.

UK government is the most invasive government pertaining citizens privacy from all the Western nations. In the UK, IT companies that use end-to-end encryption are accused of aiding child molesters, drug dealers and terrorists.

Moreover, the German opposition is concerned that the bill weakens human rights protection; some journalists fear that they may be forced to disclose their sources after the document is adopted. Additionally, Merkel has been loosing popularity in Germany. This bill could be the end for her political career.

The FSB (Russian Federal Security Service) which is responsible for counterintelligence, anti-terrorism, and surveillance of the military.

Furthermore, the German government can not  adopt the bill until  the approval of a Special Parliamentary Commission on the  Judicial supervision of interception of communications by special services.

There were precedents in the past, including the infamous one in the 2015, when Apple refused to help FBI to have the data decrypted of the murder. Thereafter, there Wass a bill created. on the legal access to the encrypted data.

In Russia, the so-called Yarovaya law, signed by the President of the Russian Federation in July 2016, which introduced the obligation of information dissemination organizers to provide the FSB with “information necessary for decoding received, transmitted, delivered and (or) processed electronic messages”.

Russia besides China and North Korea has one of the most invasive governments pertaining to the citizens privacy.

Overall, when one uses social media, one should expect that there is no privacy and even private messages can be released and read. Therefore, the technological age we are in, takes away privacy period.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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