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Germany Considers First-Strike Cyber-Attacks

Germany’s interior minister is calling for a rules change that would allow for its cyber-forces to proactively attack foreign hackers and servers.

Such a capability could be used against those targeting critical infrastructure, said Minister Thomas de Maiziere, in an interview with German outlet ARD and reported by Bloomberg.

He called for the drafting of new legislation that would make it legal to carry out first-strike activity in the instance of a clear and present danger. Germany’s armed forces already were adding a cyber-defense unit last week that by July will have a staff of 13,500, dedicated to defending against online attacks. New legislation would expand the scope of that operation.

“We need international rules, as well as in Germany, that aside from allowing protection and defense, will enable the tracing of and, if needed, the elimination of a foreign server,” De Maiziere said. He said that he hopes the decision will come shortly after the country’s upcoming federal elections in September.

The news comes amid growing concern that Russia may meddle with those elections, as it is suspected to have done in the United States.

Wolfgang Bosbach, a senior MP in Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party, said late last year that "there is a general danger—for the Bundestag 2017 election too—of influence-peddling via targeted infiltration from outside, with the goal of manipulating facts or opinions.”

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