Germany to tap refugees' phones, laptops for ID checks

Germany to tap refugees' phones, laptops for ID checks
2 min read
21 February, 2017
Angela Merkel's administration has drafted a law that will allow authorities to tap into the phones, tablets and laptops of asylum seekers if there are doubts over their nationalities.
The measure is one of many initiated by Angela Merkel's administration [Getty]
Authorities in Germany may be able to tap into the phones and computers of refugees and migrants as part of ID checks, Reuters reported on Monday, after the German government drafted an unusual law against data protection. 

Officials at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees [BAMF] may receive legal clearance to scan the phones, tablets and laptops of asylum seekers, according to a copy of the draft bill obtained by Reuters.

BAMF officials said many applicants present false documents about their identity to be granted asylum.

"We need to establish the identities of the applicants," said Volker Bouffier, state premier in Hesse and a conservative ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel. "To eliminate any doubts of a person's origin, we need to use all information available."

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned that while the number of people being granted safe haven from Syria and other war zones had risen sharply in Germany, so had the number of those who do not qualify for such protection.

"That is why we need to carry out more repatriations and deportations," he told German broadcaster ARD.

The measure is one of many initiated by Merkel's administration to show its determination to crack down on exploitation of the country's liberal asylum rules.   

Last year Germany repatriated or expelled some 80,000 rejected asylum seekers, out of a total of more than 200,000 who had failed to gain official refugee or asylum status.