The messenger service popular on phones is to pay over €5 million in fines
Five years ago, the German Network Enforcement Act came into force. With it, the then coalition government of conservatives and social democrats wanted to combat hate crime, punishable false news and other criminalised content on social network platforms. Even then, it was disputed whether so-called instant messaging services were also covered. These include WhatsApp, which belongs to Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Group, and Telegram, a platform founded by the Russian entrepreneurs Pavel and Nikolai Durov and registered in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Both services allow passive information gathering in addition to communication between one or more partners. Groups or channels in which only certain people can post content contain up to 200,000 members in the case of Telegram.
Now, for the first time, the German Federal Office of Justice has imposed fines on Telegram for violations of the Network Enforcement Act. The company is said to have violated the obligation to maintain reporting channels that comply with the law. Neither Telegram users nor state authorities can therefore report incriminated content. „No registration address: German Federal Office fines Telegram“ weiterlesen
The EU Commission is collecting outstanding cases with which it can promote the interception of messengers. Great Britain is going even further.
In six weeks, the European Commission plans to present its proposal for „legislation to effectively combat child sexual abuse“. According to the meeting calendar, this could take place on 2 March as things stand.
Presumably, the package also includes the long-awaited proposal for a regulation to identify, remove and report „illegal online content“ to combat child sexual abuse. Providers of messenger services or chat programmes would be obliged to automatically search their customers‘ communication for relevant material and make it accessible to law enforcement.
Originally, the planned regulation was already announced for spring of last year. The reason for the delay is probably the explosive nature of the law. It also affects encrypted content, including services such as Signal, Threema or Whatsapp. MEP Patrick Breyer has coined the catchword chat control for this forced screening. As with data retention, this is a mass surveillance of all citizens without any reason. „Chat control: Schengen states should promote decryption of messengers“ weiterlesen
Providers of messengers and cloud services will be allowed to voluntarily screen for child abuse content worthy of prosecution, which is to become mandatory across the EU. The Council and Commission are pushing for an extension to other crime areas. Next week, the EU interior ministers will publish a declaration on this.
On 1 December, the European Commission planned to present its proposal for a regulation for „detection, removal and reporting of illegal content online“ in the area of child sexual abuse. It would require providers of messenger services or chat programmes to automatically scan private communications for such material.
But the already delayed bill is now being postponed again. This emerges from a comparison of the Commission’s agendas. The latest version, dated 26 October, no longer includes the legislative proposal. Originally, the Commission wanted to present the EU regulation already in spring. So far, there is no new date. „Planned regulation: EU Commission postpones mandatory screening of encrypted chats“ weiterlesen
The EU is not allowed to return refugees to countries where they face persecution. In 2017, the Commission therefore set up a backdoor for refoulement to North Africa. Published text messages now reveal how Frontex is providing aerial reconnaissance for the Libyan coast guard.
Four years ago, Frontex began setting up its aerial surveillance over the central Mediterranean. Under a new regulation from 2016, the European Border Agency is allowed to buy or lease its own equipment. With the change, the EU wanted to respond to the increasing number of people seeking protection at its external borders. Frontex has since invested hundreds of millions of Euros in charter flights with small planes from European companies that monitor the central Mediterranean and the so-called Balkan route with cameras and radar equipment.
For the now increasingly powerful agency, this flight service is of central importance, which is also reflected in the annual expenditure. This year alone, Frontex is spending a third of the budget earmarked for operations on aerial reconnaissance. Meanwhile, Frontex has supplemented its chartered aircraft with a drone with much greater endurance. „WhatsApp to Libya: How Frontex uses a trick to circumvent international law“ weiterlesen
New German cybersecurity guidelines harbour even more surveillance and centralised powers
The Federal Cabinet today approved the new „Cybersecurity Strategy for Germany“. The draft, prepared by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, is to be in place for five years and replaces the previous version from 2016. The document describes four different guidelines. Cybersecurity is to be understood as a joint task of the state, business, science and society. Associations as well as citizens themselves should also find „common answers“ to cyber threats. Under the heading „Digital Sovereignty“, the Federal Government wants to invest more in research and develop cyber security into a quality feature „Made in Germany“. „Restrictive in cyberspace“ weiterlesen
Once again, the EU member states demand the weakening of encryption, associations and activists protest vehemently
The German EU Council Presidency wants to pass a resolution to give police forces and secret services easier access to encrypted communications. Operators of end-to-end encrypted services are to provide the authorities with opportunities to intercept. This would apply to platforms such as Signal or WhatsApp, which encrypt their data streams in general. Telegram also offers its users this option, but the end-to-end encryption must be set separately in the app.
On December 3, the resolution drafted by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior is to be discussed and adopted at the Council of Interior Ministers in Brussels. The British civil rights organization Statewatch had put a first draft online, and on Sunday the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) published a new version. It functionalizes the recent attack in Vienna as a necessity for competent authorities to read encrypted communication. „The EU in Crypto War“ weiterlesen