Legislation banning "Hacking tools" in Germany

By EDRi · June 6, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The laws on computer crimes have become stricter in Germany where the
creation, use or distribution of so-called “hacking tools” have been banned.

On 23 May 2007, the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Bundestag (the lower
chamber of Germany’s Federal Parliament) approved a controversial government
bill meant to improve criminal prosecution of computer crimes.

The Criminal Code has been modified so as to make illegal for the
unauthorized users to access secure data by bypassing the computer security
protection system. The “deliberate acquisition of data by tapping into a
non-public transmission of data or by way of reading radiation leaked by a
data processing system” is now considered a crime.

The German law defines hacking as penetrating a computer security system and
gaining access to secure data, without necessarily stealing data and any
individual or group that intentionally creates, spreads or purchases hacker
tools designed for illegal purposes is considered an offender. Under the
present Criminal Code, the offenders could face fines and up to 10 years
imprisonment for major offences.

These measures have been criticised being considered as counterproductive by
several groups, including EDRI-member Chaos Computer Club, which drew
the attention to the so-called “white hat” hackers who work for security
companies. By this present legislation, these experts could be in the
position of not being allowed to work with software developers in creating
secure products. “It’s a win-lose law in favour for the bad guys,” wrote a
hacker, known by the pseudonym van Hauser.

Chaos Computer Club also expressed the concern that this legislation will
allow the German Government to install spyware on suspected criminals’
computers without their knowledge.

The critics argue that the legislation does not make any difference between
a password cracker and a password recovery tool for instance. “Forbidding
this software is about as helpful as forbidding the sale and production of
hammers because sometimes they also cause damage,” said Chaos Computer Club
spokesman Andy Müller-Maguhn to Ars Technica who also stated that under the
new law, the police will be able to more easily access information on

Germany declares hacking tools ‘verboten’ (31.05.2007)

Green light for tightening of anti-hacker legislation (24.05.2007)

Germany leads the way with tough anti-hacking law (25.05.2007)