German police have been prohibited from using hacking tactics to obtain intelligence from suspects' computers.
But the ruling by Germany's Supreme Court on Monday may not be a definitive victory for civil liberties.
Germany's Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble is expected to propose legislation that would legalise convert police searches of suspects' hard drives and net access records under specific circumstances, such as the investigation of suspected terrorism offences or other serious crimes.
Germany's Federal Court of Justice ruled on Monday that secretly hacking into targeted computers differs from either searching a suspect's home or tapping into telecoms traffic, as authorised by a warrant, because no legal framework for "authorised hacking" exists. Police authorisation to seize the PCs of suspects in the course of executing search warrants and in person has never been in question.
The decision by the court came in response to a motion by the Federal Prosecutor's Office testing the legality for police to use Trojan horse programs to investigate terrorist group, AP reports.
Deutsche Welle adds that German police have secured court orders to scan emails in the past under the condition that PCS were running at the time the searches were instigated. ®