Germany seeks expansion of computer spying


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The first evidence was the bombs themselves, packed into a pair of suitcases and left on two passenger trains in northwest Germany.

Because of a technical flaw, they never exploded, but not for lack of planning. The laptop of one of the suspects in last year's bungled bombings contained plans, sketches and maps -- a virtual road map to an attack that could have killed dozens.

What if law enforcement agents had been able to secretly scan the contents of the computer before the attempted attack was carried out?

To the unease of many in a country with a history of government spying through the era of the Gestapo and communist rule in East Germany, law enforcement authorities are using the suitcase bomb case to argue for measures that would significantly expand their ability to spy on the once-private realm of My Documents.

Expanded surveillance laws since the Sept. 11 attacks already have enabled many Western governments to monitor telephone and e-mail traffic, the conversation in Islamic militants' chat rooms and the websites visited by terrorism suspects.

Now, along with several other European countries, Germany is seeking authority to plant secret Trojan viruses into the computers of suspects that could scan files, photos, diagrams and voice recordings, record every keystroke typed and possibly even turn on webcams and microphones in an attempt to gain knowledge of attacks before they happen.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/wo...rylevelproposal

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