German court bans police use of spy software

5th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

5 February 2007, Karlsruhe, Germany (dpa) - Police use of spy software was banned Monday in a landmark decision by Germany's High Court, which said legislation would be needed to enable covert examination of suspects' computers. The decision is a blow to Berlin plans to provide sophisticated equipment to a Federal Crime Bureau squad so it can seek terrorists and other dangerous offenders online and peek into their computers. The High Court in Karlsruhe is Germany's final court of appeal in matters that do

5 February 2007

Karlsruhe, Germany (dpa) - Police use of spy software was banned Monday in a landmark decision by Germany's High Court, which said legislation would be needed to enable covert examination of suspects' computers.

The decision is a blow to Berlin plans to provide sophisticated equipment to a Federal Crime Bureau squad so it can seek terrorists and other dangerous offenders online and peek into their computers.

The High Court in Karlsruhe is Germany's final court of appeal in matters that do not involve the constitution.

Judges were asked if it was permissible under crime-procedure laws to install software on somebody's computer without the owner knowing so that detectives could examine data saved on the hard disk.

Federal magistrates had previously differed over whether police are allowed to "hack" into suspects' computers, with one magistrate approving this in February 2006 and another disallowing it in November, leading to an appeal by federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors said later they needed advanced online investigation methods, but were relieved judges had set out the law clearly.

The High Court said checking out a computer was similar to checking out premises, with the suspect having a right to appoint his own witnesses during a search. Judges said infiltrating a computer was not explicitly permitted under Germany's strict phone-tapping laws.

DPA

Subject: German news

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