Sat, Mar. 10, 2007

Covert PC Spies and Privacy

CK - Washington.   Plans for covert PC inspections by means of government-sponsored virus programs or spyware do not comply with constitutional standards in Germany, the Supreme Court for Criminal Matters in Karlsruhe had determined in the matter StB 18/06 on January 31, 2007. Some government agencies still press for authorization of such methods because their reliance on §102 et al. of the Code of Criminal Prodedure failed.

At the conference of data commissioners in Erfurt on March 8 and 9, 2007, the independent government watchdogs agreed on a resolution to oppose such practices and their implementation. The resolution has been published in German.

Such activities would excessively intrude into protected privacy and violate privacy expectations. Covert spying by intelligence agencies would be particularly offensive because the law does not authorize such agencies to perform even overt reviews of computers by means of search and seizure rules.

The positions now adopted carry considerable weight because the agencies are in charge of enforcing the German and European data protection statutes at the federal and state levels.

Online spying would discredit the state, cause PC users to omit security-related downloads of updates and render PCs more susceptible to attacks by criminals. In view of such concerns, the officials appeal to federal and state governments as well as legislative assemblies in Germany to discontinue any efforts authorizing such spying.

Examing another privacy issue, Law-Blog alerts to a recent, still partially unpublished series of decisions by the Supreme Court for Civil Matters that will extensively modify the law on publishing photographs of identifiable individuals. The rulings date to March 6, 2007 and relate to the matters VI ZR 13/06, 14/06, 50/06, 51/06, 52/06, 53/06, Arne Trautmann reports in this useful introduction into photo law and press law in Germany.


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