By Ryan Gallagher
|Chaos Computer Club's offices in Berlin. Courtesy of Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images
Are you a creative thinker who can write software and detect computer security vulnerabilities? If yes, federal police in Germany have a job for you.
The Bundeskriminalamt, or BKA, is Germany’s version of the FBI. The agency is currently recruiting for a number of IT specialists to help develop “technical surveillance methods” that can be used to secretly and remotely access computers during crime investigations. What that means, in plain English, is that the BKA is looking for people to help design in-house spyware than can be used to infiltrate computers and mine data.
Surveillance tactics of this kind are controversial everywhere — but in Germany the issue is particularly touchy. Last year there was a national outcry when Berlin-based hacker collective the Chaos Computer Club exposed a police “Bundestrojaner” (federal Trojan) that could record Skype calls and messenger chats, even spy on users through their webcams. This meant that the software could be used in violation of German constitutional law on privacy, which enshrines a “basic right to the confidentiality and integrity of information-technological systems." Only in exceptional cases involving serious crime can Trojan-style tools be used in Germany, and still then they can be used only to record telephony like Skype conversations — not take screenshots or sift through information stored on hard drives.