German Gov't Inadvertently Reveals Police Monitor Gmail, Skype, Facebook & Use Snooping Malware (Techdirt)
Thursday October 11th, 2012
Transparency is worth having for itself, since governments often tend to behave a little better when they know that someone is watching. But occasionally, requests for data turn up something big and totally unexpected because someone failed to notice quite what the information provided implies.
Here's a great example spotted by the annalist blog, which reports on a parliamentary enquiry about expenditures by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, responsible for internal security. What was probably thought to be no more than a few dozen pages of boring and thus safe figures turned out to reveal something quite shocking:
The German ministry for home affairs and thus the German police clearly state that they are monitoring Skype, Google Mail, MSN Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Facebook chat if deemed necessary. Money is spent on trojan viruses and we can be quite certain which company produces the IMSI catchers [used for "man-in-the-middle" attacks on mobile phones] used by German police.
It's been known for a year that the German police forces have been using malware to spy on citizens via their computers, but the latest revelations about surveillance activity go far beyond that. It confirms that even in countries where people are very sensitive about privacy, Internet snooping by the police is routine. It also emphasizes, once more, the importance of encrypting your communication channels where possible, and avoiding those where it isn't.
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