German Government Drafts "Orwellian Nightmare" Plan To Spy On All Digital Devices

Germany's Interior Ministry is challenging the NSA for the title of world's most Orwellian intelligence agency.

According to Russia Today, Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s interior minister, wants to create secret backdoor access to computers, phones and even Volkswagens - a plan that critics are slamming as an "Orwellian nightmare". Maiziere plans to argue in favor of what he's calling “the legal duty for third parties to allow for secret surveillance” during an interior ministry conference in Leipzig next week. De Maizière's proposal would “dramatically extend” the state’s powers to spy on its citizens, according to the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) report.

If signed into law, de Maiziere’s proposal would allow German security services to spy on any device connected to the internet. Tech companies would be compelled to provide the state with backdoor access to most digital consumer devices, including private tablets, computers and even televisions and cars. However, German authorities would need the authorization of a judge before tapping into a compromised consumer device.

Maiziere's request, as many of our American readers no doubt remember, is reminiscient of the FBI's push back in early 2016 to convince a federal judge to compell Apple Inc. to create software that would allow the bureau to break into iPhones for law-enforcement purposes. The case was spurred by the deadly Dec. 14, 2015 shooting at the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center. The attackers, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple living in the city of Redlands, targeted a Public Health training event and Christmas party of about 80 employees being held at the building, where Syed worked.

According to local media reports, the German interior minister feels such legislation is necessary because the rise of encryption and other security systems has hindered digital intelligence gathering and surveillance - the same argument used by the FBI in its case against Apple. Unsurprisingly, Maizière's plan to expand state snooping powers has raised eyebrows in a country that within living memory has suffered under some of the most ruthless, all-pervasive surveillance in history – from both the Nazi Gestapo and the East German Stasi.

“The Interior Minister’s plans sound like an Orwellian nightmare. Soon all flats in Germany will be equipped with devices which are potential wiretaps,” said Konstantin von Notz, deputy faction leader of the Green Party, during an interview with Der Spiegel.


“We need to think really hard about the fact that we are a country with two dictatorships in its recent history. Do we want to live in a land where there is no privacy and where the state can interfere wherever it is technologically possible?” he asked.

Members of the Bundestag and Secretary General of the Bavarian State Association of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Uli Grötsch, said that Germans should be wary of calls for expansion of the state's snooping capabilities, which government bureaucrats often justify by saying the tradeoff to improve national security would be more than worth it.

“More intervention and monitoring does not automatically mean more security,” he said, as cited by Der Spiegel.

Despite opposition to the proposed backdoor, Germany already boasts comprehensive, and sometimes undisclosed, surveillance powers.

The US National Security Agency not only spies on German citizens, but also houses the agency’s key European data centers, Der Spiegel revealed in 2014. More recently, in February of this year, the magazine reported that Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had spied on western news media outlets and international news agencies for years.

Even encrypted German data isn’t safe: In June, Germany passed a controversial law that expands the state’s ability to monitor encrypted material sent via message services such as WhatsApp and Skype.

De Meziere's plan is hardly the only turn towards totalitarianism undertaken by the German state in recent months. Back in October, we reported on a new German law introducing state censorship on social media platforms, which had just taken effect. The new law requires social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to censor their users on behalf of the German state. In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May has also called for an increase in internet monitoring and censorship across Europea to help stem a wave of terror attacks that, ironically, were largely enabled by developed countries' liberal policies toward migrants fleeing conflicts in Afghanistan or Syria.


jaxville Infinite QE Mon, 12/04/2017 - 09:32 Permalink

  For at least a decade now...Every cell phone call, text message and email message is recorded and stored in the UK, USA, Canada and possibly Austrakia.  There are certainly more countries doing this that I don't have exact information on such as Red China, Germany etc.  I knew a man in the 90s (about twenty years ago) who was helping develop software that could make sense of all the digital information that security agencies had access to.  That was before the cost of storing that info dropped significantly. Echelon is not an urban myth and far more sweeping than most imagine.

In reply to by Infinite QE

Pearson365 Mon, 12/04/2017 - 06:03 Permalink

Don't we have enough of these alphabet agencies and corporations already spying on everything I do to the point that my digital devices are nearly frozen and unusable?  I'm almost to the point of just throwing them in the fucking trash and sailing off to points unkown.

Golden Showers Mon, 12/04/2017 - 06:03 Permalink

No one has to spy on me. I'm not afraid of who and what I am. And I'm not a threat.So anyone who wants to know can come on in and watch me fuck my wife. But you have to buy a ticket.My private life isn't a fucking free for all. Unless you cock sucking robot assholes think so which is a violation of my igloo you pervert mother fuckers.Like we throw it around, oh, is this unlawful? Oh, but it's alright. Oh, but it's not alright.Listen up: if you are so gay you need to watch me through my personal property and entirely negate the whole personal property, privacy, free speech, and come up in my fucking crib totally blowing up habeus corpus because it's a digital device, you really are a disgusting faggot.I mean: at least working at the EPA you get free porn and can shit in the hallways.You want something? Come and knock on my door you pervert motherfucker useless dick tard bitch.No warrant get the fuck out of my fucking crib you cyber jerkoff fags. Not that you would understand it. Fuck you. FUCK YOU. You want something, Come on over and knock on my door and I'll punch you in your throat for free.Fucking assholes.

BrownCoat gatorengineer Mon, 12/04/2017 - 09:52 Permalink

@ gatorengineer,It is today. AI means very efficient scanning (fewer resources). All ya gotta do is get on a watch list. Ask a Tea Party donor about their IRS audit.Your assumption is they are going to haul off everyone at once. That is too much work. Even the Nazi work camps tried to squeeze every last calorie out of their inmates. The current power structure intends to do the same. They take a few at a time. High visibility and influencial folks get taken to scare the rest back into line.

In reply to by gatorengineer

Fireman Mon, 12/04/2017 - 06:14 Permalink

STASI "Erika" and her Gestapo goon, De Meziere, a marriage made in hell...same as it always was. Germany is an occupied colony of the USSA, keystone state of its EUSSR project. What agent De Meziere does under agent "Erika" is precisely what he has been ordered to do by his owners.… USSAN military bases in Province Germanistan Paperclip  Cross cultural NAZI poli-nation…

otschelnik Mon, 12/04/2017 - 06:24 Permalink

 "However, German authorities would need the authorization of a judge before tapping into a compromised consumer device."Uh-huh, would that be like getting a FISA warrant probably

GreatUncle Mon, 12/04/2017 - 06:26 Permalink

So only German electronic devices will be sold to Germans right?Effectively this legislation will enable the German government to spy on anybody owning a German made electronic device anywhere in the world.So being British I want to know how I find out if I am being spied upon by German intelligence?You Americans might want to do the same...