German upper house approves terrorism bill
Germany's upper chamber of parliament Thursday approved a revised version of a bill on police powers that it rejected last month, clearing the way for it to become law, reported dpa.
The bill authorizes police to use computer viruses to hunt terrorists.
The upper house, the Bundesrat, approved the bill by a vote of 35- 34, a day after the lower house backed the new version, following mediation by a committee of both chambers of parliament.
The bill reforms the federal police and includes powers to break into personal computers during preventive inquiries into terrorism and other serious crime.
After initially being approved by the lower house or Bundestag it was rejected at the end of November by the Bundesrat, which represents 16 state governments.
The revised bill requires a judge to authorize police access to a suspect's personal computer and to oversee the search of data by law enforcement officers.
It also clarifies the jurisdiction for such searches between the federal government and state authorities.
Police have been studying whether they could either enter premises to plant monitoring devices in computers or send viruses to the computers via the internet so that investigators could covertly read the hard disks.
Legislators, clergymen and defence lawyers are fully protected from such searches, but journalists, lawyers and doctors are not.