Germany. Calls for “Less Democracy”: Police Caught Planting Spyware on Personal Computers
German secret state agencies installing spyware capable of transforming PC webcam and microphone into listening device
by Tom Burghardt
October 16, 2011
Revelations by the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) that German secret state agencies are installing spyware on personal computers capable of transforming a PC’s webcam and microphone into a listening device, sparked outrage across the political spectrum.
It has since emerged that despite legal requirements that police do so only with a warrant and only if surveillance intercepts are used to prevent threats to “life, limb or liberty,” authorities are not complying with strict limits laid down by Germany’s Supreme Court.
And while these disclosures may have ignited a political firestorm in Berlin, they will come as no surprise to readers of Antifascist Calling.
Three years ago, I reported that Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND, was caught up in a major scandal after the whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks, published documents which revealed that the agency had extensively spied on, and even recruited, journalists for use in illicit intelligence operations.
Recalling the CIA’s long-running Operation Mockingbird program that enrolled journalists as spies in what are now euphemistically called “influence operations,” the covert manipulation of the domestic and foreign press according to WikiLeaks, showed “the extent to which the collaboration of journalists with intelligence agencies has become common and to what dimensions consent is manufactured in the interests of those involved.”
BBC News reported that “Bavaria has admitted using the spyware, but claimed it had acted within the law.” And Deutsche Welle disclosed that “several additional German states have admitted to deploying spyware,” including “Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony,” but like their counterparts in Bavaria, those officials also claimed they had operated “within the parameters of the law”
As I have written many times, the secret state is bound by their own set of “laws.” Normal rules and procedures which are supposed to protect citizens from unwarranted government intrusions are deemed inoperative for reasons of “national security.”
In the United States, constitutional protections designed to guarantee the right of citizens to protest, enjoy a modicum of privacy in their daily lives or, at the most basic level, have their day in court before being executed, have been overthrown by two successive administrations who assert the right to conduct the affairs of state in secret, according to a set of legal guidelines which are unreviewable by any court.
It would appear that similar moves are underway in Germany.