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Berlin terror attackCalls in Germany for bolstering surveillance in wake of Berlin attack

Published 21 December 2016

Klaus Bouillon, the interior minister in the German state of Saarland, said that “It is time to eliminate the barriers to monitoring suspects’ telephone conversations.” He also urged the revamping of a law for monitoring popular online encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp, and said that next month he would make a formal proposal to that effect. Bouillon, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said, “It cannot be the case that a company can make billions with WhatsApp, while at the same allowing criminals to organize, direct young people and obstruct our authorities by not providing the necessary encryption codes.”

Klaus Bouillon, the interior minister in the German state of Saarland, said that “It is time to eliminate the barriers to monitoring suspects’ telephone conversations.”

He also urged the revamping of a law for monitoring popular online encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp, and said that next month he would make a formal proposal to that effect.

Handelblatt reports that Bouillon, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said, “It cannot be the case that a company can make billions with WhatsApp, while at the same allowing criminals to organize, direct young people and obstruct our authorities by not providing the necessary encryption codes.”

On Wednesday Germany’s federal cabinet approved Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere’s proposals to install more video surveillance of public areas and public transport networks.

The cabinet also approved modifications to Germany’s data protection law, which traditionally has emphasized privacy rights. The modifications would allow data protection commissioners to give greater weight to the “protection of life, health and freedom” when considering the use of video surveillance.

The proposal for changes to the surveillance and data protection laws were first considered in July, after mass shooting in Munich killed ten people, but the federal government accelerated its approval in the wake of Monday’s attack.

Bouillon said that greater information sharing among the police and main intelligence service, the BND, is needed to effectively introduce sweeping surveillance policies. In October, the federal government passed a comprehensive reform of the BND, strengthening the government monitoring of intelligence activities, but allowing the BND to carry out certain types of surveillance activities.