German cabinet minister Manfred Kanther last week called for increased efforts to fight crime on the Internet and demanded that government-hired cyber-sheriffs should have keys to unlock encrypted communications.
Kanther told a conference in Bonn that government regulation of the Internet was inevitable and agencies needed to be set up to fight computer crime.
"We do not want to stifle development of the Internet through excessive regulation, but we will not be able to avoid a certain involvement," he said.
Kanther's comments focus on the guidelines that govern encryption over the Internet, which he feels need to be modified to protect users and countries from inappropriate use. He added: "The technical and organisational competence of agencies charged with fighting computer crime must be strengthened."
Kanther hinted that Germany was actively persuing relationships with organisations that share its views on Internet policing. Those organisations will be asked to provide encryption keys for Germany's Internet.
Kanther fears the Internet is being used by individuals and organisations to spread illegal or terrorist-type data through Germany and the rest of the world. This data, he argues, is protected by current encryption techniques and needs to be revised to allow inspection. Kanther explained: "The criminals are hiding in the anonymity of the networks, wiping their electronic tracks. Police are faced with completely new challenges."
Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands parliamentary deputy Joerg Tauss was unimpressed with Kanther's suggestions, saying: "This is a step backwards, both for the Internet and domestic IT companies."
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