Governments have a tendency to create national proprietary services and concepts. Over in Austria, politicians are convinced they need a federal Trojan Horse to scour the deep web. State spying software leaves a very bitter taste in anyone’s mouth, but for the Austrian government, it seems to be the only defense against this growing threat.
Austria’s Federal Trojan Is A Terrible Idea
To put this news into perspective, the current plan of action is to deploy this federal trojan shortly. This tool would give Austrian law enforcement agencies the help they need to prevent criminal activity on the deep web. While it is not uncommon for organizations to use “shady” tactics on the darknet, deploying a federal Trojan seems to be rather drastic.
Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka feels the Interior Ministry lacks the necessary technical requirements to operate on an equal footing. While this may be true, stooping to the same tactics as online criminals won’t do the government’s reputation any favors in the long run. It is understandable they want results, but the costs should never outweigh the benefits.
It is not the first time Austria oversteps its boundaries while focusing on the deep web. Earlier this year, Sobotka had drafted plans to spy on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger communication. Although these plans have not been set into motion yet, they are not put on ice either. It is evident Austria is taking this threat very seriously, even though their approach leaves a lot to be desired.
Privacy advocates are not too amused by this federal Trojan Horse idea either. Consumers’ communication is kept safe from prying eyes through strong encryption, yet this Trojan would be developed in such a way it can bypass encryption. Circumventing these security measures to “fight terrorism” does not mean the average consumer should suffer the consequences. Moreover, this Trojan could be hijacked by the criminals Austria wants to put behind bars.
If every country were to create a national Trojan Horse, no one in the world would be safe. It is possible such a tool would help identify criminals on the deep web. But it is equally possible law enforcement agencies gain access to everyone’s communication a 24/7 basis. If that were to happen, there would never be privacy on the Internet anymore. In fact, it could drive even more people to conduct criminal activity on the Internet, as a form of retaliation.
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