Handelsblatt Exclusive

Minister: Amend Secured Messaging Laws

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Klaus Bouillon, second from left, chairs the conference of Germany's state and federal interior ministers. Source: Oliver Dietze / DPA

Two days after a deadly attack at a Berlin Christmas market, the interior minister of the state of Saarland, Klaus Bouillon, called on changing secured communication over social media such as Whatsapp.

“Too much communication is currently taking place in lawless spaces. This urgently needs to change, in my view,” Mr. Bouillon, who also chairs the federal conference of interior ministers, told Handelsblatt.

Without hints or intelligence, he said it was practically impossible to prevent an attack as the one that took place on Monday night in Berlin, where a truck drove into a Christmas market, killing 12 people and wounding 48 others.

“When I see that many people nowadays radicalize because of new media, we have to give the authorities more options.”

Klaus Bouillon, Interior Minister, State of Saarland

Authorities are currently searching for a Tunisian suspect, although it is not clear whether this man is the perpetrator.

“When I see that many people nowadays radicalize because of new media, we have to give the authorities more options. A simple Whatsapp message is secured in such a way that investigators cannot access it,” Mr. Bouillon said.

Heavily armed police officers patrolling German streets might not prevent all attacks, the minister said, but they could stop a perpetrator more quickly and increase people’s sense of security.

Mr. Bouillon defended Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has received criticism following Monday’s attack: “It is outrageous how our chancellor has been attacked. When I hear statements such as ‘These are Ms. Merkel’s deaths,’ well that’s the height of repulsiveness,” Mr. Bouillon said.

He said Germany’s refugee registration was functioning and in two or three months all state refugee centers would be linked with one another. He acknowledged that it was still difficult to detect refugees who used several identities to enter Germany, but the German Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees was addressing this problem.

 

Frank Specht is based at Handelsblatt’s Berlin bureau, where he focuses on the German labor market and trade unions. specht@handelsblatt.com

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