GroKo wants to allow constitutional protection access to WhatsApp communication

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BerlinThe Union and the SPD want to allow the domestic intelligence service by law to access encrypted communication in the fight against extremists and terrorists. "In order to defend the Constitution from the enemies of our democratic constitution, the constitutional protection course must also have access to modern communication options," said the SPD Vice Ralf Stegner the Handelsblatt. "There is no question that surveillance is under parliamentary control and within the framework of our laws."

The security expert of the Union parliamentary group, Patrick Sensburg (CDU), commented similarly. Of course, the protection of the Constitution must also be able to listen to WhatsApp and other messenger services, if correspondingly high legal requirements are met. "After all, it must not be that extremists use modern means of communication and the protection of the Constitution does not notice, because he is only allowed to listen to telephone calls," said Sensburg the Handelsblatt. "Here we need a quick statutory regulation, so that it is clear when and under what conditions the constitutional protection may listen."

Background is the demand of the protection of the constitution, in the future also on encrypted chats to access. The president of the agency, Thomas Haldenwang, justified this in Welt am Sonntag by saying that domestic intelligence still has "problems" in tracing the communications of extremists and terrorists.

Their communication options would have "enormously increased through the Internet," said Haldenwang. They communicated today via messenger services like WhatsApp, on Facebook or also over chats of on-line Videogames. "That's why the G10 law, which allows us to monitor telephone conversations under strict conditions, must be adapted to the modern world of communication."

Haldenwang also explains the need for action with the current threat situation. In the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS), he still sees a danger despite their military defeat. "At IS, I can not give the all-clear," said Haldenwang in the newspaper interview. "We must continue to count on an attack in Germany at any time." The IS still exists, with a view to Europe "above all in the sense of a virtual cyber caliphate, which is inciting attacks and can still drive supporters for attacks".

However, the opposition in the Bundestag rejects extended powers for the secret service. "So far, the Grand Coalition can not explain how they on the one hand increase IT security and on the other hand by security vulnerabilities to access encrypted communication," said the domestic spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Konstantin Kuhle, the Handelsblatt. "As long as this conflict of interest exists, a further extension of the powers of the protection of the Constitution is forbidden."

In addition, it must be ensured that the privacy and informational self-determination of intel- lectual citizens remain protected. "Blanket announcements from the Union and SPD do not help there," criticized the FDP politician. In this context, Kuhle is critical of the reluctance of the Federal Minister of Justice. It is a pity that Katarina Barley (SPD) is silent on the plans. "At least from her hints to the fundamental rights were expected."

2240 people could perpetrate attacks at any time

Green Party Vice-Constantine von Notz, like Haldenwang, believes that security challenges are "enormous" in the face of IS threats, including so-called returnees. But there are today "very effective surveillance tools and ways of gaining insight, so that in the recent attacks in Europe, not a deficit of information, but their correct transfer and classification was the problem," said by Notz the "Rheinische Post". But the attack on the Christmas market at Berlin's Breitscheidplatz is exemplary.

According to Haldenwang, the number of people that the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution classifies as potentially dangerous radical Islamists increased by more than 300 last year. "In Germany, we estimate around 2,240 people to be the so-called Islamist terrorist potential. We trust them at any time to attack or support such an attack, "he said. In addition there would be any returnees who would come back to Germany after the military defeat of the IS.

However, since last summer, the number has increased only slightly – in August 2018, the security authorities had already identified about 2,220 radical Islamists. "Keeping track of all these people around the clock is not possible," emphasized Haldenwang. "You would need up to 40 officers per person. So we focus on those we consider particularly dangerous. "

The so-called "perpetrators" identified by the police authorities as well as "relevant persons" are counted among the "Islamist terrorist potential", but also other people who have the protection of the constitution on the screen. At any time, the authorities trust in a terrorist attack. Relevant, for example, are those who have a leading role in the extremist spectrum, who are considered supporters or who maintain close contact with dangerous people.

After the fall of the last Syrian IS bastion Baghus at the end of March, the self-proclaimed caliphate of the extremists is destroyed, yet the terrorist militia is not yet defeated. Hundreds, if not thousands, of ISIS fighters have disappeared into the murky desert areas of Syria and Iraq. Especially over the Internet, IS supporters continue to spread propaganda. For some time now, the extremists have been targeting individual perpetrators who themselves radicalize themselves on the internet and then take action.

The protection of the constitution also causes concern for children returning to Germany from IS supporters who have stayed with their families in the former territory of the terrorist militia in Iraq or Syria. "We ask ourselves: is this the new generation of terrorists?" Said Haldenwang. Jihadist children witnessed violence at the IS and worshiped their fallen fathers as heroes. Attempted attacks from past years showed that adolescents could become attackers early. He pleaded for a change in the law to monitor children in individual cases.

However, the monitoring of children is not a rule of law option for the Green Party politician of Notz. "The use of covert state measures against children is known only from unjust states." The aim of state measures should be those who instructed and instrumentalized children. "The authorities must act decisively here."

(TagToTranslate) Extremism (t) Crime (t) Crime (t) Internal Security (t) Constitutional Protection (t) Intelligence (t) IS (t) SPD (t) WhatsApp (t) Alliance 90-The Greens (t) FDP (t) Facebook (t) BfV (t) CDU (t) Thomas Haldenwang (t) Konstantin von Notz (t) Patrick Sensburg (t) Konstantin Kuhle

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