Pleased with anti-terror measures introduced after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the German government plans to extend them and add others, such as allowing law enforcement officials to examine suspects' bank accounts.
The Navy could fend off attacks after a constitutional amendment
According to news reports, German Interior Minister Otto Schily plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would allow Germany's navy to fend off a terrorist attack from the sea.
This would compliment an existing law that enables the government to shoot down a civilian airplane in case it has been hijacked by terrorists who plan to crash it into a building. The latter law is already being challenged in Germany's constitutional court.
'Security package III'
In a proposed package of measures known as "security package III," Schily is pushing for intelligence agencies to have easier access to bank account information, and for fewer bureaucratic hurdles in the area of surveillance, according to a report in the newsmagazine Spiegel.
Along with with German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries, Schily has met with telecommunication industry officials to discuss storing data for longer periods.
German Interior Minister Otto Schily (left) and German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries
So far, information is only kept for 90 days, but Schily and Zypries support storing telecommunications and Internet data for up to a year. They advocate keeping phone numbers and e-mail addresses but not content.
Spain, France, Ireland and Sweden had already suggested this after the March 11, 2004, terrorist attacks in Madrid.
Opposition calls for more
Wolfgang Bosbach, the opposition Christian Democrats' deputy parliamentary leader, called for additional measures such as a leniency program for main witnesses that would help to tear apart terrorist groups.
Bosbach also called for a central intelligence unit to monitor terrorist threats.
Extending existing laws
Schily's plan to extend the existing laws beyond a 2007 expiration date has also received support from the government's junior coalition partner, the Green party. Schily presented a report on anti-terror measures to a parliamentary committee which concludes that authorities have used their new tools "responsibly and carefully."
The law changes made it easier for investigators to review suspects' telecommunications, among other things. Since 2002, only 85 telephone and Internet connections and 20 mobile phone connections have been checked, according to the report.