The statements from government officials that encryption is unbeatable are untrue. Encryption software contains flaws that can be exploited by state intelligence agencies, and beyond that, mass surveillance is ineffective at preventing violent terrorism.
Also, fingerprinting children is reminiscent of activities the Stasi was involved in, and would have a negative effect on developing minds. There is already enough repression from society in general; Germany and other countries would do well to avoid adding to it.
Germany is planning a new law giving authorities the right to look at private messages and fingerprint children as young as 6, the interior minister said on Wednesday after the last government gathering before a national election in September.
Ministers from central government and federal states said encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Signal, allow militants and criminals to evade traditional surveillance.
“We can’t allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law,” interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in the eastern town of Dresden.
Militant attacks in France, Britain and Germany have prompted European governments to tighten up on surveillance of suspected militants. Britain has proposed forcing messaging services to let authorities access encrypted communications.
Among the options Germany is considering is “source telecom surveillance”, where authorities install software on phones to relay messages before they are encrypted. That is now illegal.
Ministers also agreed to lower the age limit for fingerprinting minors to 6 from 14 for asylum seekers.