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Bundestag won't reveal web block list on 'national security' grounds

100,000 sites off limits, but nobody knows which ones

Official sources in Berlin are refusing to publish details of the 100,000 websites blocked in the Bundestag, because revealing them would “endanger national security”.

The block is primarily meant for the executive branch of the institution, but in practice affects all lawmakers working in the Bundestag.

Following a serious attack in May, a new block list was set up by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). After sophisticated trojan malware penetrated the entire Bundestag network, the authorities are seemingly not taking any chances.

Sources say that the attack was a sophisticated one and not likely to be the work of “hobbyists”. The implication is clear: MPs silently fear a national government was and is behind the breach, with Russia believed to be the prime suspect.

According to German daily Der Spiegel, tens of thousands of sites were blocked in an effort to stem the spread of malicious software.

Martin Reyer, of NGO Abgeordnetenwatch, filed a freedom of information access request to find out more about which sites were targeted. Yesterday, he tweeted about its rejection on the grounds of “national security”.

“Your request is denied. The right to access to information does not apply if the disclosure of information can have adverse effects on matters of internal and external security. This is the case here,” was the official response.

However, sources in the Bundestag told El Reg that the blocking seems to be completely hit and miss. The blocked URLs range from the video channel of the Christian Democrats political party to Kavkaz Center, a “jihadi news” portal from Russia.

The BSI refused to comment on its decision-making process or to give a breakdown of the blocked websites by type. The notice Bundestag users receive simply says that a site is blocked in order to prevent malware infection. ®


British MPs may want to take note. According to the Daily Express, more than 247,000 attempts were made to visit X-rated sites from Parliament's network last year. Apparently, April was the most popular month for Parliamentary porn, with 42,000 visits – or more than 1,300 a day. How many of these were due to unwelcome pop-ups is not known.

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