Digital traffic light policy: strengthened civil rights, unclear digitization goals

Shortly before the elections, the former federal government demonstrated what is wrong with digital policy in Germany: the Federal Chancellery released an app for digital identifications called ID-Wallet and sent it to the Ministry of ‘Interior, which is in fact responsible for the problem. . On top of that, Chancellor Helge Braun (CDU) ignored a warning from the Federal Office for Information Security, which said the app was dangerous.

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It turned out as it should: Within days of launching it, security experts tore up the app in public, and Braun’s project team humbly removed it. But citizens’ trust in the state was already shaken – as vanity and quarrels over skills clearly mattered more than a well-thought-out concept.

Traffic light bosses Christian Lindner (FDP), Olaf Scholz (SPD), Annalena Baerbock (Greens) and Robert Habeck (Greens): who controls digitization remains open.

(Image: Kay Nietfeld / dpa)

A well-founded digital policy from a single source is therefore the wish of many experts in the next federal government. But the coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP remains unclear on this issue: digital skills within the federal government must be “reorganized and regrouped”, write the partners, but leave completely open what they hear over there.

It is clear that the traffic light does not set up a new digital ministry. Instead, she wants to upgrade the former Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructures to “Transport and Digital”. The house, which will be managed by the FDP in the future, will not be a super digital department. It could take over some of the powers of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, for example, but the important digitization of the administration remains with the Ministry of the Interior, according to the SPD. Other departments are also allowed to continue working on digital issues.

The Bitkom trade association hopes that the Ministry of Transport will at least have overall control: “Now we have to show that in practice it will have all the rights and resources to focus and promote digitization. The traffic light itself doesn’t say a word about it in the contract. Otherwise, she only alluded to the subject of control: the Federal IT Cooperation (Fitko), an interface between the federal government and the Länder, should receive more money. The federal CIO, which works at the Ministry of the Interior and which some experts believe should be strengthened, is not even mentioned in the contract.

The previously rather representative office of the digital minister of state (formerly Dorothee Bär, CSU) is missing from the list of ministers of state, so it appears to be omitted. Otherwise, there is no indication that the fire wants to tighten structures, for example by merging authorities such as the Federal Network Agency and the mobile communications infrastructure company, which are treading on each other. In the opinion of many experts, this is urgent. “There are too many authorities, too many committees, too many working groups”, complains behind closed doors a senior federal official.

In terms of financing also, the traffic light remains unclear. She wants “a central additional digital budget”, but does not name any amount and no manager. You also look in vain for time targets. Neither with the digitalization of the administration nor with the expansion of broadband, the future coalition partners say what should happen by when.

When it comes to reforming federalism, they are also cautious: they want to talk to the Länder about it, but they do not specify a deadline. In the field of education, they wish to endow countries with a “digital pact 2.0” for equipment, maintenance and administration.

After all, some goals seem ambitious even without a timeline. The traffic light wants to test all laws for numerical adequacy, abolish written form requirements with the stroke of a pen and standardize terms like “income”, which should make it easier to apply – for example for family allowances – . Ultimately, state benefits should even “be paid automatically”. E-government pioneers like Denmark are examples of this.

Overall, however, the digital chapter seems slim, especially considering that it sits right at the start of the contract – even before climate protection.

If the fire partners remain vague on the digitization of the State, they make clear announcements in terms of civil rights and computer security and respond to the demands of civil society. The writing of the Greens and the FDP is clearly recognizable here.

Unlike the CDU and CSU, the traffic light for example does not want video surveillance with facial recognition, no real name obligation in social networks and no state counter-attacks against hackers (“hackbacks “).

When it comes to encryption, the three stand out from the Union: instead of backdoors for investigators, they want a “right to encryption”. In order to bring this to life, authorities should offer “the possibility of true encrypted communication” – a system with end-to-end encryption instead of De-Mail which can be read by investigators. “Measures of digitization of private communications”, as foreseen by the European Commission, rejects the traffic light.

When it comes to security breaches as well, the traffic light follows the demands of organizations such as the Chaos Computer Club: investigators and intelligence services should no longer be allowed to contain the breaches, but rather report them to the Federal Office for Information Security. The latter must “always endeavor to close it as quickly as possible”. This does not go far enough for the Society for Freedom Rights: Authorities should also be prohibited from commissioning private companies as hackers – as with the Pegasus Trojan.

Unlike the former federal government, the traffic light does not want to allow federal police to infiltrate smartphones and computers with state Trojans – at least “as long as the protection of the central domain of privacy. is not insured ”. The trio don’t go so far as to get rid of state Trojans again.

The traffic light is also not saying goodbye to the controversial and currently suspended data retention. However, she wants to defuse it so “that the data can be stored in a legally secure manner and on the basis of a judicial decision”. In the future, providers could presumably delete the bulk of login data as soon as they no longer need it for billing purposes, and would only have to keep individual data longer than requested by customers. investigators (“quick freeze” concept).

The traffic light wishes to associate this system with a new “login trap” proposed by the association affiliated to the SPD D64. At the request of the police, social media operators should pass on the IP address of suspects as soon as they reconnect. Investigators could then obtain the name and address with the assistance of the supplier.

One of the successes of the Greens in particular is the statement in the coalition agreement that in the future the federal government should “generally” order open source software – a commitment that leaves loopholes open, but which constitutes a big step forward compared to the last of the Union. coalition agreement and SPD, where the subject of open source was not even mentioned.


In c’t 26/2021, we show how you can upgrade from Windows 10 to 11 with just a few mouse clicks – and how you can overcome higher hurdles, like if your PC doesn’t meet hardware requirements. In addition, we have compiled gift advice handpicked by c’t editors on six spreads and tested intelligent suction robots with object recognition. You will find number 26/2021 from December 3 in the Heise boutique and at the well-stocked newsstand.


(cwo)

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