Chief Prosecutor Dr. Peter Frank demands more powers for authority to monitor telecommunications. If he succeeds with his plan, law enforcement will be able to decrypt encrypted messages, used by dark net criminals and terrorists, more efficiently.
The federal prosecutor seeks to surveil telecommunications due to the terrorist attacks in 2016. According to him, the current legal situation led to a “massive deficit in obtaining evidence through telecommunications.” In the case of potential terrorists, the phone calls between the suspects are mostly encrypted, and investigators have a hard time decoding them.
“This could lead the criminal prosecutors into a very risky situation,” Frank said.
The prosecutor general is solely concerned with the fact that law enforcement authorities need to effectively monitor the telecommunications of the accused persons in serious crimes.
In 2016, authorities in Karlsruhe, Germany prosecuted most of the terrorist trials in the country. 240 legal proceedings were conducted in Germany, just under 200 (85 percent) were allocated in this area. In 2015, this proportion was almost 70 percent.
“The conflict in Syria and Iraq was the focus,” says Frank.
In this connection, 140 trials started against around 200 accused persons.
Since the Münich shooting, Germany is waging a war against dark net criminals. A local news station in the country, ksta.de, interviewed an ex-officer of the Federal Police about the current situation. Nick Hein, a 32-year-old, who served as a federal officer in Cologne, described the inability of the Federal Criminal Police Office to fight cybercrime. During the interview, Hein spoke about crime in general, although, he explicitly focused on the dark web and cybercrime. The ex-officer said that during his work at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA or Bundeskriminalamt in German), the agency found themselves facing many problems in a short period of time. Due to the advanced encryption technologies and the anonymity of the dark web, monitoring cybercriminals became harder.
Shortly after the Münich incident, German law enforcement authorities started to focus on cracking down dark net criminals. They made record-breaking arrests and prosecutions in a short time and managed to track down and catch the weapon vendor who sold the gun to the shooter in Münich. After the BKA detained the firearm seller, he announced full cooperation with the police.
Months later with the first dark net arrest, the Interior Ministry conducted a study on the dark web, which showed that the narcotics trade was not the first priority for German authorities. However, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Holger Münch, the president of the BKA, jointly announced that terrorism is thriving on the dark net and marketplaces on the dark side of the internet pose a great risk to the people. Weapons transactions pose the greatest scare, according to them.
“The BKA will continue to investigate organized crime and counterterrorism. This is a valid concern about the arms trade, smuggling, and falsification of documents,” BKA President Holger Münch said. “Especially with these offenses, steps to combat terrorism should be taken.”
Hein agreed with the study and said that the terrorist attacks in the country are rapidly expanding in number and frequency.
“The ability to fight the cybercrime on the Internet must also be improved – from the monitoring of the terrorist recruitment to the arms trade in Darknet. A stronger executive police force in all areas is urgently needed,” he said.
Hein acknowledged that the changes will take time and effort to reach their full potential. “At heart” he shared the mentality of any officer in law, and if the option existed, he would go back to service.