German Intelligence Suspends Internet Spying

German intelligence agencies have stopped for now accessing via the Internet suspected terrorists' computers after the practice was publicly disclosed last week.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a German interior intelligence agency, had been accessing via the Internet the private information and communications on suspects' personal computers since June 2005, Deutsch Welle reported today. German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble came under heavy criticism from privacy experts and from some in his own political party, the Social Democratic Party, that the practice violated "Article 13 of the German basic law, which governs privacy," according to the article.

"Schäuble has called for a change in the law, saying the monitoring is an important intelligence tool and that the practice should continue," according to the article. The German government is considering rewriting the law to allow the surveillance.

Since 9/11, intelligence agencies in the United States have sought an expansion of powers governing how agents collect data and monitor computer habits and electronic communications. The Associated Press reported this month that newly appointed National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has circulated a draft bill that would amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to make it easier to monitor email accounts and phone calls.