Subject: Re: German Government Official Wants Backdoors in Every DeviceConnected to the Internet
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Subject: Re: German Government Official Wants Backdoors in Every Device
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Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2017 12:57:45 -0500
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On 2017-12-07 11:12 AM, BTR1701 wrote:
> The US Department of Justice is reviving its anti-encryption arguments
> despite not being given any signals from the administration or Congress
> that undermining encryption is something either entity desires. The same
> thing is happening in Germany, with Interior Secretary Thomas de
> Maiziere continuing an anti-encryption crusade very few German
> government officials seem interested in joining.
> The key difference in de Maiziere's push is that he isn't limiting
> potential backdoors to cell phones. He appears to believe anything
> connected to the internet should be backdoored... possibly even the cars
> German citizens drive.
>      The RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) reported that Thomas
>      de Maiziere had written up a draft proposal for the interior
>      minister conference, taking place next week in Leipzig, which
>      he has called "the legal duty for third parties to allow for
>      secret surveillance".
>      According to the RND, the proposal would "dramatically
>      extend" the state's powers to spy on its citizens.
> And it's not just backdoors being suggested. De Maiziere wants all
> electronics to be law enforcement-complicit. All things -- especially
> those connected to the internet -- should be constructed with government
> access in mind.
>      For example, the modern locking systems on cars are so
>      intelligent that they even warn a driver if their car is
>      shaken a little bit. De Maiziere wants the new law to ensure
>      that these alerts would not be sent out to a car owner if
>      the police determined it to be justified by their
>      investigation.
> De Maiziere wants the government to be able to intercept and block
> notifications sent from cars to the people that own them. But it's far
> more than smarter cars being compromised on behalf of the government. If
> de Maiziere gets his way, it will be every connected device everywhere.
>      De Maiziere also wants the security services to have the
>      ability to spy on any device connected to the internet. Tech
>      companies would have to give the state "back door" access to
>      private tablets and computers, and even to smart TVs and
>      digital kitchen systems.
> It's rare for government officials to blatantly state citizens should be
> under surveillance at all times. Craftier politicians tend to use less
> direct rhetoric, even if they aspire to the same goals. This blatant
> call for mass surveillance of millions of innocent people has provoked a
> reaction from de Maiziere's colleagues, although probably not the one he
> was looking for.
>      The proposal was met with astonishment by digital activists and
>      politicians on Friday.
> De Maiziere seems blissfully unaware Germany was once home to a powerful
> dictator who killed millions of his own citizens while deploying a
> secret police force. And once that period ended, part of Germany rolled
> directly into a program of intense domestic surveillance utilizing the
> Stasi -- one of the most brutally effective secret police forces ever
> wielded by a government against its own people. De Maiziere's proposal
> is so tone deaf -- given the history of the nation he serves -- it's
> tempting to believe he's an under-recognized satirist. But de Maiziere
> seems completely serious. Fortunately for Germans, no one else seems to
> take de Maiziere quite as seriously as he does.
> official-wants-backdoors-every-device-connected-to-internet.shtml

First of all, I doubt De Maiziere is unaware of the Nazis or the STASI. 
I've seen WW II and East Germany documentaries that featured interviews 
with prominent officials of those regimes and they were named De 
Maiziere too, which is not exactly a common German name. I suspect the 
De Maiziere family is one of those elite families - think German 
Kennedy's - whose members have been prominent for generations.

But to get to the real issue at hand, I don't think it is quite so cut 
and dried as saying that all citizen surveillance is always and totally 
evil, although I am strongly tempted to agree with that sentiment. I'm 
sure you'll appreciate that the Bad Guys (however defined) will do their 
best to utilize encryption to facilitate their communications. Picture 
ISIS/Taliban/Al Qaida types who are plotting mass murder and using 
encryption to hide their communications from Good Guys trying to listen 
in. What if surveillance that could get around the encryption was able 
to foil plots that threatened dozens, hundreds or even thousands of lives?

It's been said that those who give up their liberty to buy security are 
fools who will soon have neither and I'm acutely conscious of that. 
There is clearly real potential for abuse here. I assume that's why the 
US only permits this sort of surveillance on specific individuals with 
the approval of judges in FISA courts. (Some other countries have 
comparable processes.) Maybe that's a reasonable and sufficient 
safeguard to ensure that warrants are NOT abused and are only issued 
when there is sufficient evidence to merit them?