The federal prosecutor should have access to better surveillance methods in order to spy on criminals, according to the government, which also wants to be able to use spyware such as Trojan horses for particularly serious offences. Current possibilities for solving serious crimes haven’t kept pace with technological progress, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said on Wednesday. “The state cannot afford to leave certain communication channels to criminals,” she said at a media conference Bern. Sommaruga said criminals today could, without spending a fortune, employ encryption technology to evade surveillance.
She argued that in order to be able to monitor a conversation over Skype – which allows users to communicate online using a microphone, webcam and instant messaging – law enforcement authorities should be able to use so-called “Government Software”. These programs are installed unnoticed in computers by police – like hackers. They can then see what the computer user is up to. Trojan horses are software programs which appear useful but in fact contain additional hidden code which allows the unauthorised collection of data.
The “particularly serious offences” for which such spyware would be employed include the financing of terrorism, criminal organisations or child pornography. Preventative surveillance, on the other hand, where there is not reasonable doubt of a crime, has been ruled out.