Chaos Computer Club (CCC), a Germany-based hacker group, published a proof of the use of spyware by the government, which resulted in a serious scandal on the highest level.
The spyware mentioned in the publication was found on a laptop that belonged to a person who was suspected of illegal export of pharmaceuticals. The program was allegedly installed during a customs inspection at an airport.
This program captures the URL’s of visited websites and email communications and then sends the collected data to a remote server, presumably outside the country. Besides, it allows the operator to upload and launch any applications on a remote computer.
Joachim Hermann, the Minister of Interior of Bavaria, confirmed that state authorities in this land had been using spyware since 2009, but refused to provide specific examples. In his opinion, this practice in not in breach of any laws, although this issue is subject to further discussion. Authorities from three other lands (Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg and Niedersachsen) also confirmed that they had been using similar software.
In response to the furious public reaction, some high-profile authorities were forced to provide comments on the situation.
Germany’s Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, and Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded that a thorough investigation of the incident be conducted. The result of this investigation should be a mechanism aimed at protecting the citizens’ rights to privacy.
Therefore, Germany’s laws related to the use of spyware may change considerably in the nearest future.