Facebook, Gmail, Skype conversations monitored and decoded by German police

The German police have been paying a company to monitor social media, the government reveals

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  Government

The Dutch police, for instance, operate a virtual police station in Habbo hotel, an online social network for children, said McNamee. This a good example of online police work because it is a friendly approach to assist children, he said.

However, there are also initiatives like CleanIT, a project that was set up to create voluntary guidelines to root out online terrorism. But a leaked document revealed in September that the organization is planning wide-ranging surveillance that could greatly hamper civil liberties to achieve that goal, said McNamee.

Tapping a phone is acceptable in today's democracy because there are procedures in place for that sort of surveillance, he said. "But we are sort of sleep walking quietly from one level to the next," he said, adding that surveillance is drifting away from standard practices "and anything that drifts away from standard practices is worrying for anyone in society and for society itself."

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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