BITKOM cautions against to much surveillance of the internet

The German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM) on Friday protested on behalf of the entire high-tech industry against calls by the Upper House of German Parliament to increase surveillance of telecommunications and the internet. In the opinion of BITKOM, particularly problematic are online searches. The government’s task, on the contrary, would be to increase confidence in modern technology. The existing penal code including the possibility of traditional house searches was sufficient enough in order to fight against crime.

According to BITKOM, several committees of the German Upper House plan to introduce controversial online searches of computers. „Secret attacks on personal computers by the police have to remain a taboo», demands Dr. Bernhard Rohleder who is managing director of BITKOM. The association criticizes that the Upper House wants to undermine principles of the law of order. So far people have to be informed subsequently if their telephones were tapped. This requirement is to be partly undermined by the new plans. In addition, online connection data are to be stored for an entire year and not just six months as has been the case so far. „This development is alarming and leads to a state of public surveillance», says Mr. Rohleder. „This plan lacks any good political judgment and is in our opinion unconstitutional.» BITKOM demands not to increase surveillance more than required by EU legislation.

At least the committee on economic issues of the Upper House of German Parliament recognizes that service providers have to be indemnified for their co-operation in telephone surveillance. However, a promise in this respect made three years ago, has not yet materialized. According to estimates by BITKOM, for the planned increased surveillance the telecommunications industry would have to spend an additional 50 to 75 million Euros. GERMAN