Bavaria to go ahead with online surveillance

20th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

The German state plans to allow security officials to check personal computers for terrorist activity.

Munich (dpa) - The southern German state of Bavaria is to go ahead with controversial plans to permit security officials to monitor personal computers online to check for terrorist internet traffic, the state interior minister said.

A spokesman for Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann confirmed an earlier news report in the weekly Focus news magazine that Bavaria would not wait for planned federal legislation.

Herrmann said he would put forward draft legislation in February.

Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble favours similar plans to deploy a so-called "government Trojan" to spy on the PCs of terrorist suspects.

The German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe is currently considering a similar law put forward by the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia and is expected to rule in the spring.

Schaeuble, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), last year suggested constitutional changes to give increased powers to counter-terrorism operatives, including online searches of PCs.

Members of the Social Democrats (SPD), the junior partner in Merkel's grand coalition, have opposed the plans on civil liberties grounds.

SPD Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries has said she is not "in principle" opposed to the idea but concerned about the practicalities of implementing legislation.

The head of the Federal Criminal Police (BKA), Joerg Ziercke, has criticized the debate as "scare-mongering," adding that at most only 10 such online searches would be carried out in any one year.

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