Germany’s Bavaria Expands Police Authority Amid Increase In Terror-Related Cases Including Darknet Cybercrime

The state parliament in Bavaria on Wednesday voted for a bill that empowers state police to fight crime – including cybercrime on the dark web. The Bavarian Police Task (PAG) bill was passed by a margin of 67 against 89 majority vote which saw several amendments in the law.

Courtesy of Sputnik News

Sharply controversial Bavaria PAG laws could annihilate freedom

The new amendments of the PAG are set to give police the power they haven’t had for more than 70 years. Pro-PAG legislators insist that the law could allow more security, civil rights and security. The political head of Bavaria also believes that the laws will go a long way in enhancing security in the region.

According to the sponsors of the bill, the laws were necessitated by the increase in terror-related cases including cybercrime. They insist the rampant terror attacks around Europe require decisive measures to protect the people and the country at large.

Further, they believe that the law is going to give police the power to counter terror threats. According to the Sputnik News, one of the fundamental issues that the law aims to address is to replace the concept of “concrete danger” with “imminent danger”.

The old concept insisted that the Bavarian police had to ask for permission from a jury to investigate, monitor or carry out checks on suspects. The new approach, however, aims at making the path to justice happen faster. On the other hand, old laws required the police to appear before a judge who would then give approval for any activities carried out against a person by law enforcement.

The supporters of the new laws further say that the police will now have a preventive approach toward crime as opposed to the usual investigative activities after a crime has already happened. This may include the power to monitor phone calls and online browsing activities of individuals suspected of anticipating to commit crime.

In the spirit of establishing preventive measures against crime, the PAG laws allow the police to build profiles of suspected individuals. The authorities will now have the power to include the DNA, hair and eye color, ethnicity and other characteristics that reveal the suspect’s identity. However, the law prohibits them from including disease or hereditary factors into the suspect profiles.

Moreover, the new bill has removed the necessity of police to wear body cams on their regalia or anything that may be deemed as a pre-recorder.

Supporters of the PAG bill further state that the amendments were made in line with the new European Union stipulations about privacy. The bill therefore insists that information obtained from internet monitoring must be reviewed by a special body. Such data will not be admissible if the body reveals that the privacy of such individuals is going to be infringed during the exercise.

According to the Sputnik News, the State Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) defended the amendments saying that “preventing [any] crime is the core task of the police.” He added that the law sought to secure Bavaria and that “it is a protection law, not a surveillance law.”

 

Adapting to the Darknet

The law’s ‘imminent danger’ approach toward crime will also give the police powers to seize and sometimes inspect letters and parcels. Speaking to the press, the state government holds that this is necessary to help adopt it for the darknet. The authorities believe that this could intercept and probably stop the illegal trade of drugs, contrabands and weapons.

This PAG law’s stipulation was fueled by the Munich attack- the gunman bought the weapon online on the dark web. David Ali Sonboly, the 18-year old who killed nine and wounded about 35 others in July 2016 allegedly bought the gun he used from a dark web marketplace.

The Bavarian authorities and PAG supporters believe that the law is going to help them track and stop the purchase of such harmful items from the internet.

 

The opposition to the PAG

However, the law also faces serious criticism from opposition party members and residents who believe it is an unconstitutional “attack on freedom.” The Local De asked people around Bavaria and the majority believes that it could be the most intrusive police law since the Nazi Government policies of the Third Reich. The news outlet estimates that more than 30,000 people marched to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the laws.

Further, there has been massive protests from activists who believe the new amendments are too intrusive.

“We don’t want more security measures. We’re here to show ourselves, and draw attention. We want it to go before the Constitutional Court,” Fritz Bommas, told The Local.

 

Despite the amendment the crime rate in Germany has gone down to its lowest since 1992. However, it also shows that terrorism-related crime is on the increase by five times more.