The storage of IP addresses to combat child abuse is currently a hot topic among German lawmakers, as the rejection of a motion tabled by the conservative CDU/CSU group calling for a six-month limit in such cases has been judged. insufficient by other stakeholders.
Read the original story in German.
The motion “Child protection before data protection” triggered heated debates in the Bundestag on Friday 24 June.
He has been criticized for not exploring other avenues to tackle child abuse, such as prevention or increasing the number of investigators, instead of sticking to mass surveillance.
“We want to protect the weakest in our society in a real and effective way (…) by requiring telecommunications providers to store only IP addresses for six months for the sole purpose of combating serious crimes against children” , CDU/CSU conservative lawmaker Günter Krings said during the debate.
But Sebastian Fielder, of the ruling Social Democrats (SPD), criticized the opposition group for exploiting the issue of storing IP addresses “in the worst way possible for partisan political reasons”.
Lawmakers from other parties presented several other examples of tackling child abuse, such as bolstering child welfare offices, educating parents and teachers, and monitoring online activity for evidence. . Increased skills and resources for law enforcement were also mentioned.
However, the conservative group continues to advocate for “more mass surveillance instead of prevention”, said Anke Domscheit-Berg of the Left Party.
Lawmakers also criticized the Commission’s recent proposal for a regulation to prevent and combat online child sexual abuse. The liberal FDP, also in the ruling coalition, criticized the proposal for not including enough prevention measures, focusing only on law enforcement using what critics call “chat control”.
According to Fiedler, the issue of storing IP addresses will continue to be discussed within the coalition. Ex-Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) also came out in favor of storing IP addresses, while the FDP and the Greens strongly opposed it.
The government “procrastinates”
According to the motion, temporary storage is necessary and “by far the most effective instrument to identify the perpetrators and, in so doing, also to put an end to the ongoing sexual abuse of children”.
Indeed, IP addresses are often the only starting point for investigations and many leads cannot be resolved without them. Only if providers store IP addresses is it possible to determine how an Internet connection was reached and who the person using the address might be.
The motion also states that prosecutors should “be able to require providers to hand over connection owner data only in specific individual cases of serious crime and only by court order.”
According to the German conservative group, the quick freeze procedure – whereby data is stored on an ad hoc basis – is insufficient to catch offenders.
Konstantin Kuhle of the FDP disagrees, however. While he acknowledges that seizures must be made more quickly, the procedure criticized by the Conservatives allows IP addresses to be kept for at least seven days.
But the government is “hesitating and hesitating” in the face of the growing number of child sexual abuse cases, the CDU/CSU said.
In 2021, abuse cases totaled 15,500, up 6.3% from the previous year, according to police crime statistics. The production, possession and distribution of child pornography more than doubled in 2021 to 39,171 cases in one year.
Opposition to chat control
On June 20, the FDP presented a resolution to the Commission opposing the control of the cat.
“We Free Democrats reject the European Commission’s proposal and call on the European Commission to withdraw and revise it,” their statement read.
The measures proposed in the fight against child abuse are “not proportionate”, and the German government is expected to take a stand against the regulation in the Council.
Indeed, monitoring all chats, messages and emails would place all citizens under constant general suspicion. “It would be a dangerous precedent that would shake the rule of law to its foundations,” the statement said.
Many civil society organizations also warned that the regulation proposed by the Commission “would probably do much more harm than good” and that it was incompatible with fundamental rights.
Many critics assume that it will not be possible to implement the proposal without introducing comprehensive content filters and circumventing encryption technologies. This would prevent anonymity.
Respectively, the German government had addressed 61 critical questions to the European Commission in its catalogue.
According to Germany’s coalition agreement, secrecy of communications, a high level of data protection and end-to-end encryption are essential. The coalition agreement opposes general surveillance measures and measures to filter private communications.
[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi]