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Germany: draft law against online hate would allow investigators have access to passwords

BERLIN. A planned law against online hate was met with harsh criticism. According to the Federal Ministry of Justice's latest draft "to combat right-wing extremism and hate crime", the state can force Internet companies such as Google, Facebook or email providers to provide customers' passwords without the users knowing about them.

The Greens right-wing politician Renat Künast warned that the German government would choose means in the fight against right-wing extremism "that would have a serious impact on civil rights". Künast told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that she was relieved that the issue was coming into the focus of the authorities.

The bill also raises questions. "Under the guise of combating right-wing extremism, should the security authorities now gain access to information that has always been wanted?" The planned extension, especially to passwords, is technically and constitutionally questionable.

"Unacceptable Methods"
The domestic political spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Konstantin Kuhle, spoke to the Handelsblatt of a "catastrophic sign for civil rights and IT security". With the proposed law "the Federal Ministry of Justice does not live up to its role as constitutional ministry". The Federal Ministry of the Interior was already led by the Union. "No one needs a Ministry of Justice that can't enforce the black sheriffs' security laws."

Federal data protection officer Ulrich Kelber wrote on Twitter that he would comment on the draft after the legal review. "If there was any idea of ​​a password being given - and moreover without a judge's decision - that would certainly call us onto the plan."

“Once again, unacceptable methods are used to tackle criminal offenses on the Internet. If citizens know in advance that even a supposedly offensive Facebook post can already lead to the publication of passwords, then some will completely stop their activities in social networks for safety reasons, "warned the AfD Group's spokeswoman for digital politics, Joana Cotar.

Furthermore, the password query could conflict with the General Data Protection Regulation, according to the Süddeutscher Zeitung . This means that providers of cloud services such as Google Drive must not encrypt passwords unencrypted, i.e. saved in plain text, but encrypted. The same applies to the blocking codes of cell phones. These are usually only stored on the devices and not on the company servers.

The draft provides for further tightening
The draft from the Ministry of Justice provides for further tightening. The act "endorsement of criminal offenses" is to be expanded so that it is not only punished who recognizes committed offenses, but also criminal offenses that have not yet been committed, ie are fictitious.

Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) is also planning changes to the paragraph on threats. So far, only the threat of a crime is punishable - illegal acts that are punished with at least one year in prison. In the future, threats with less serious violent crimes should also be punishable. The threat of using violence against things such as cars is also to be punished.

Last Friday, the Bundestag had already decided to tighten gun rights, including in the fight against right-wing extremism . From now on, prospective gun owners will have to be screened for the protection of the constitution. Anyone who is a member of an anti-constitutional association does not receive a gun possession permit.

Junge Freiheit

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