Protection of the Constitution, BND & MAD: State Trojans for all secret services


After one of published draft law of the Federal Ministry of the Interior “to adapt constitutional protection law” Not only should the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution use state Trojans in the future, but all German secret services: the 16 offices for the protection of the State, the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) and the Military Shield Service (MAD).

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  1. Lademannbogen Laboratory MVZ GmbH, Hamburg
  2. Stadtwerke Karlsruhe GmbH, Karlsruhe

It was only at the beginning of June that the grand coalition, under pressure from the SPD, agreed not to grant the Constitutional Protection powers to search online. However, this does not mean that government trojans are not used – on the contrary, all German secret services should in future be allowed to use Trojans for so-called source telecommunications surveillance (Quellen-TKÜ). In contrast to online searches, the use of Trojans is legally limited to interception of telecommunications on the end device.

The source TKÜ should primarily be used to tap encrypted phone calls or messenger messages before encryption or after decryption. Online browsing, on the other hand, allows full access to the data stored on the device. Technically, the two monitoring methods hardly differ. Both use a state Trojan to gain access to the devices of those affected. This can be installed via security gaps or through direct access to the devices.

Clear criticism from civil rights organizations

“The Quellen-TKÜ was originally only intended to be used by the BKA for serious crimes. Then the hurdles were set ever lower”, said Linus Neumann, spokesman for the Chaos Computer Club. “In these already critical cases, there is still judicial and public scrutiny during the negotiation. That too is now a thing of the past: German domestic intelligence should be allowed to hack whoever it wants.”

The SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken had voted against the state Trojan for the police three years ago and criticized him clearly. She continues to see the use of state Trojans critically, Esken explained. “I still agreed to a compromise solution based on the coalition agreement,” said Esken.

“Allowing the agency to hack technical equipment has a new dimension. If the regulation comes into force, we will probably complain about it,” criticizes Bijan Moini of the Society for Freedom Rights. The civil rights organization has recently, together with other plaintiffs, obtained a judgment on the foreign intelligence agency of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) before the Federal Constitutional Court. This is therefore unconstitutional. The BND law needs to be reformed.

Further powers of the secret services will be released

In addition to the permission to use Trojans, previously limited provisions of the Federal Constitutional Protection Act, the MAD Act and the BND Act are to be exempted. “These are, in particular, information obligations of companies in the air transport, financial services, telecommunications and telemedia sectors for network reconnaissance as well as regulations on the use of IMSI catchers to determine used mobile phone numbers and to advertise in the Schengen information system for tracking international references”, it says in the bill.

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