German minister calls for expanded use of face recognition software

June 13, 2017
First test of technology to take place at Berlin train station

Berlin (dpa) - German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere wants to expand the use of facial recognition software in public spaces in the fight against terrorism, German media reports.

"If the software really works dependably, it should be able to be put into use against major crimes on other places on which public video cameras have been set up," de Maiziere was quoted as saying in the Sunday edition of Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper.

The first test in Germany of such face-recognition software is taking place at Berlin's Suedkreuz train station, with the intent of making it easier to detect and apprehend terrorist suspects and violent criminals.

The interior minister also favours allowing security services to have access to encrypted messenger services such as WhatsApp.

"We want messenger services to have an end-to-end encryption so that the communication of honest citizens is undisturbed and secure," de Maiziere said.

"Nevertheless, security authorities need the option of access under certain circumstances, as is also the case with SMS," he added.

Instruments such as online legal searches and source telecommunications surveillance, he said, could be used in addition. Source telecommunications surveillance allows authorities to read a suspect's communication before it is encrypted.

Both methods are to be enshrined in the code of criminal procedure over the course of upcoming government sessions. The benchmark for security measures in the digital world must be what are police allowed to do in the analogue world, de Maiziere said.


©2017 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)

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