More powers for civil servants: GroKo agrees on Federal Police Act


There was a long struggle, now the Union and the SPD have agreed on a new federal police law. This should give the Federal Police more powers – such as reading messages in encrypted chat services.

The parliamentary groups of the Union and SPD have, according to information from ARD capital studios agreed on a compromise on the Federal Police Act. As can be seen from a key issues paper, the Federal Police should be given more powers.

This includes, among other things, the use of the controversial source telecommunications monitoring – i.e. monitoring of encrypted communication that is recorded either before or after it is encrypted. This enables messages to be read in encrypted chat services. Online searches and electronic face recognition will continue to be prohibited.

According to the paper, the Federal Police will in future – “as a consequence of the Anis Amri case”, as it is called – be able to carry out criminal prosecution in the event of “unauthorized residence” in Germany. She is also given the right to refuse her place or to have blood samples taken. So far, only the state police were allowed to do this. The responsibility for offenses involving drones or laser pointers is also new.

Previous version from 1994

The Union and the SPD had long discussed an amendment to the law, which dates back to 1994. Originally, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) wanted to bring an amendment to the Federal Police Act into the cabinet in the spring. First and foremost, the powers of the officials should be expanded in order to be able to react to new dangers with modern technical search methods.

The first draft also included large-scale, automated face recognition at airports and train stations, but this was rejected by the SPD-led Ministry of Justice. Later on, there was also reportedly a dispute over source telecommunications surveillance.

The deputy Union parliamentary group leader Thorsten Frei said in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” that it was a nice sign that the parliamentary groups had reached an agreement at parliamentary level just under a year before the next federal election. He spoke of an “act of appreciation for the officials”. The deputy chairman of the SPD parliamentary group, Dirk Wiese, said: “In the end, each side was willing to compromise, so that a good result for the police is now on the table.”

The Tagesschau reported on this topic on November 30, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.

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