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‘Orwellian nightmare’: German Interior Minister drafts law to spy on all digital devices

Germany’s Interior Minister wants secret backdoor access to computers, phones and even Volkswagens, according to a media report. Critics have slammed his plan as an “Orwellian nightmare.”
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere plans to argue “the legal duty for third parties to allow for secret surveillance” during an interior ministry conference in Leipzig next week. The 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.

According to media, 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 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,” Konstantin von Notz, deputy faction leader of the Green Party, told Der Spiegel.

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