| Research Projects | Intrusion into personal devices by law enforcement authorities
bidt background

Intrusion into personal devices by law enforcement authorities

The interdisciplinary research project examines aspects of societal acceptance and the legal framework of intrusion into private devices by law enforcement authorities from the perspective of law, computer science and social sciences.

Project description

Personal communication by technical means is protected by the secrecy of telecommunications. Interference with this fundamental right requires an authorisation basis, which has existed for many years for traditional communication services (§ 100a StPO) and appears to be widely accepted by society. Wiretapping is a widely used investigative instrument in the area of criminal prosecution.

Personal communication is increasingly shifting from the use of conventional landline and mobile phone connections to the use of messengers and voice-over-IP telephony. The increased use of end-to-end encryption means that communication data is transmitted more securely, while at the same time making access by security authorities more difficult. This is a problem with smartphones and end-to-end encrypted messengers such as Threema, Signal and WhatsApp.

In 2017, the Code of Criminal Procedure therefore expanded traditional telephone tapping to include source telecommunication surveillance and online searches. Source telecommunication surveillance allows access to the communication on the user’s personal device before encryption or after decryption. Online searches legitimise the collection of data on an IT system used by the data subject. Authorisations to intervene in this regard can also be found in the regulations on averting danger. Such state interventions are the subject of controversial debate in society.

By bringing together legal, social science and technical perspectives, the interdisciplinary project aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the existing regulation, the regulatory options and their social acceptance. The topic will be categorised in the field of tension between freedom and security, also with regard to new technologies, the specificity of the regulations and the associated constitutional problems will be examined and regulatory options will be discussed. In addition, representative surveys will be conducted to determine the public’s approval and acceptance of individual measures depending on the specific legal and technical design.

Project team

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Felix Freiling

Member of bidt's Board of Directors | Chair of Computer Science 1 (IT Security Infrastructures), Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)

Prof. Dr. Dirk Heckmann

Member of bidt's Board of Directors | Chair of Law and Security in Digital Transformation, Technical University of Munich

Prof. Dr. Sabine Pfeiffer

Member of bidt's Board of Directors | Chair of Sociology Technology – Labor – Society, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)

Joanna Klauser

Joanna Klauser

Researcher, bidt

Bruno Albert

Researcher, bidt