Online Police searches adopted also in Austria

By EDRi · October 24, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

Austrian authorities have announced that the police will start from 2008 to
use online searches as an investigation tool in order to keep up with the
use of new technologies for terrorist and serious crimes. Austria is joining
in this way Germany and Switzerland that are working in the same direction,
despite serious privacy concerns.

In an interview to the radio station Ö1, Austrian Minister of Internal
Affairs, Günther Platte, and the Minister of Justice, Maria Berger,
announced this new measure that was proposed to be discussed in the
Government meeting. The two politicians explained that the measure will be
used only in connection with terrorist cases or other serious crimes, where
a punishment of at least 10 years imprisonment is foreseen.

The decision adopted by the Government meeting on 18 October 2007 still
waits for legal and technical clarifications on how the decision will be
applied and its implementation is not expected to start earlier than late

The online searches will need a judge’s warrant and will be overseen by the
Ministry for Home Affairs’ legal protection officer. Minister of Justice
Maria Berger said that online searches will only be carried out under
exceptional circumstances and that this measure was needed in order to keep
up with the terrorist’s use of the Internet resources and as a response to
the growing number of electronic crimes worldwide.

According with the new decision the Austrian police will be able to bug the
hard disks of PCs by sending Trojan horses to them via the email, but
also planting the Trojan horses into the PCs of targeted users after
penetrating into their apartments.

As reported by EDRI-gram, online searches of computers by the secret
services have been a reality in Germany since 2005, following an order of
Interior Minister Otto Schily. The German Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe
ruled, on 5 February 2007, that, according to the German Code of Criminal
Procedure, online police snooping was illegal. Since then the German
authorities have shown a higher desire to push for a legal basis of the
online searches of personal computers in Germany.

Switzerland decided also in June 2007 to allow secret online searches from
federal police authority.

Coalition agrees on online searches (only in German, 17.10.2007)

Austria plans to start conducting secret online searches in 2008

Swiss government decides on secret online searches (only in German,

EDRI-gram: New calls for computer online searches by German authorities

EDRI-gram: Online police searches found illegal in Germany (14.02.2007)