Germany

Articles about voting issues in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Germany: OSCE mulls monitoring German election, as far-right complains of ‘massive interference’ | The Local

The intergovernmental OSCE organization is considering whether to send a monitoring mission to the upcoming German election after speaking with each of the parties, Spiegel reports. Spiegel reported on Monday that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is deciding whether to monitor the September 24th German national election. For the first time, delegates from the OSCE met with party leaders of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party at their central headquarters, who provided documentation of “attacks, violence, obstructions, and criminal acts against AfD members through private and public positions” as well as “individual acts and in their alarming sum make up a massive interference in a democratic competition for votes in the parliamentary election campaign.” Read More

Germany: Anti-fake news lab yields mixed results | Politico.eu

With an election looming in September, fake news is big news in Germany. So concerned is the German government by a growing quantity of false and defamatory information online that it is going further than others in pressuring tech companies to better police their networks. Parliament approved a new law this month under which lawmakers could soon impose fines of up to €50 million on social media firms if they fail to remove criminal content like defamatory and hate-inciting posts quickly enough. “Something has changed,” Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament shortly after fake news played a prominent role in the U.S. election. “Today we have fake sites, bots, trolls … We must confront this phenomenon and if necessary, regulate it.” It’s one thing to confront fake news and another to find a solution for it. Germany is hardly alone. Policymakers, the media and tech companies on both sides of the Atlantic have struggled for months now to improvise responses. Read More

Germany: De Maiziere expects Russian leaking to start in ‘weeks’ | EUObserver

Germany expects Russia to start publishing compromising material on German MPs in the summer in order to destabilise elections in September. Its interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, and spy chief, Hans-Georg Maassen, issued the warning in Berlin on Tuesday (4 July) after unveiling a yearly intelligence report. De Maiziere said the material “could be published in the coming weeks,” the Reuters news agency reported. Maassen said Russia’s intention was “to damage trust in and the functioning of our democracy so our government should have domestic political difficulties and not be as free to act in its foreign policy as it is today.” Read More

Germany: Interior Minister is expecting Russian effort to influence election | Reuters

Germany is expecting Russia to try to influence its general election on Sept. 24, but there are no indications of which party it would seek to back, officials said on Tuesday. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said at a news conference that data stolen in 2015 in a hack of the lower house of parliament could surface in the coming weeks. Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, said that while it was not known what Russia would do he suspected that Russian President Vladimir Putin would prefer a different German chancellor than Angela Merkel. It was likely that Russia had sought to influence the U.S. election and everything points to Moscow’s involvement in efforts to influence the election in France, de Maiziere said. “As a result, it cannot be excluded – and we are preparing internally – that there will be a similar effort to influence the election in Germany,” he said. Russia has denied trying to influence foreign elections. Read More

Germany: Berlin braces for Russian meddling before September election | Financial Times

Berlin is braced for a possible Russian campaign aimed at damaging democracy in the run-up to September’s German election, officials warned on Tuesday, as they pointed the finger at several states for launching cyber attacks. Russia, China, Iran and Turkey are all accused of having targeted Germany in an annual government report on domestic and foreign security threats. The dangers range from the loss of sensitive data to the planting of delayed-action malware that could trigger “silent, ticking digital time bombs” primed to manipulate computers and sabotage infrastructure. The warning, a few days before G20 leaders are due to discuss global cyber threats, shows increasing international concern over cyber security but could also raise tension at the Hamburg summit, which Angela Merkel, German chancellor, is hosting. Read More

Germany: Government report says Germany big target of cyber espionage and attacks | Reuters

Germany is a big target of spying and cyber attacks by foreign governments such as Turkey, Russia and China, a government report said on Tuesday, warning of “ticking time bombs” that could sabotage critical infrastructure. Industrial espionage costs German industry billions of euros each year, with small- and medium-sized businesses often the biggest losers, the BfV domestic intelligence agency said in its 339-page annual report. The report mapped out a range of security threats, including Islamist militancy and increased far-right violence, but highlighted the growing incidence of cyber espionage. It cited a “noticeable increase” in spying by Turkey’s MIT foreign intelligence agency in Germany in 2016, following the failed July 15 coup in Turkey, and said Russia was seeking to influence a parliamentary election on Sept. 24. “The consequences for our country range from weakened negotiating positions to high material costs and economic damage all the way to impairment of national sovereignty,” it said. Read More

Germany: How Much Does It Cost to Influence an Election? About $400,000 | Bloomberg

Want to influence an election? All you need is about $400,000, according to cyber security consultant Trend Micro Inc. That’s the sum it takes to buy followers on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, hire companies to write and disseminate fake news postings over a period of 12 months, and run sophisticated web sites to influence public opinion, according to Udo Schneider, a security expert for the German-speaking market at Trend Micro. “Hacking the actual voting process isn’t worth it as it leaves traces, is very expensive and technologically challenging,” Schneider said Wednesday at a security conference organized by Deutsche Telekom AG in Berlin. Yet influencing public opinion via fake news and data leaks, as is believed to have happened during the U.S. and French election campaigns, is relatively simple and “could also happen ahead of the German elections.” Read More

Germany: Chaos Computer Club: The Hackers Russia-Proofing Germany’s Elections | Bloomberg

The hack began as trash talk. Germany’s voting computers were so vulnerable to tampering that they could be reprogrammed to play chess, the hackers boasted. But then the machines’ maker dared them to try. Bound by honor and curiosity, the hackers got their hands on one of the computers and had it playing chess after about a month. “We have to admit,” they later wrote, “that it does not play chess all that well.” This wasn’t just a prank. The hackers, several of them associated with the Hamburg collective known as the Chaos Computer Club, or CCC, also proved they could manipulate votes that the computers had recorded. As a result, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court struck down the nation’s use of voting computers, citing CCC by name in its ruling. Oh, and this was in 2006. From imperfect voting machines to the fake news that chokes social media, the U.S., the U.K., and France are only beginning to wrestle with the ways in which democracy can be hacked. In Germany, which is heading to the polls in September, CCC has been paying closer attention. Sometimes that means such stunts as reprogramming computer systems on a dare, but the loose confederation of about 5,500 hackers isn’t a bunch of bored teens in it for the lulz. Its 29 local chapters are stocked with professionals who run security for banks, head encryption startups, and advise policymakers. The group publishes an occasional magazine, produces a monthly talk radio show, and throws the occasional party, too. Read More

Germany: Bundestag cancels German government funding of non-democratic parties | Deutsche Welle

A majority of 502 of 579 delegates in the German Bundestag voted Thursday in favor of amending the country’s constitution to deprive anti-democratic political parties of federal money. One of the first groups likely to be affected by the new rules is the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), which received 1.1 million euros ($1.2 million) last year. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas was pleased with the constitutional amendment. “The state is under no obligation to finance enemies of democracy,” Maas said in a statement just ahead of the vote. “Devoting tax money to the NPD is a direct state investment in radical right-wing incitement.” Under the previous rules, any party garnering 1 percent in a local election or 0.5 percent in a national or EU election automatically qualified for state funding up to the amount of money raised by the party itself. The NPD polled 1.5 percent and 1 percent respectively in the 2013 German national election and the 2014 EU election. Read More

Germany: Germany Builds an Election Firewall to Fight Russian Hackers | Bloomberg

In March and April hackers tried to infiltrate computers of think tanks associated with Germany’s top two political parties. A year earlier, scammers set up a fake server in Latvia to flood German lawmakers with phishing emails. And in 2015 criminals breached the network of the German Parliament, stealing 16 gigabytes of data. Although there’s no definitive proof, the attacks have been linked to Pawn Storm, a shadowy group with ties to Russian intelligence agencies—raising the possibility that the Kremlin might disrupt a September vote in which Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strongest critic in Europe, is seeking a fourth term. “There’s increasing evidence of attempts to influence the election” by Russia, says Hans-Georg Maassen, head of BfV, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. “We expect another jump in cyberattacks ahead of the vote.” While polls show Merkel is likely to defeat the left-leaning Social Democratic Party (SPD), the concern is that the Kremlin will try to strengthen the far-right Alternative for Germany and turn the estimated 2.5 million voters who speak Russian against her. “Cybersecurity is a top priority, and Chancellor Merkel is taking it very seriously,” says Arne Schönbohm, president of the BSI, the country’s top technology security agency. Read More