It’s no longer a secret that it is technically possible to intercept emails and calls. And it is well known that both police and Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) make use of electronic eavesdropping regularly . Even the BaMF relies increasingly on new IT tools in its asylum decisions and, for example, retrieves data from mobile phones of migrants . However, we cannot access the scale of surveillance by the state.
Citizen asylums are a form of civil disobedience and therefore potentially affected by eavesdropping by police and intelligence services. To date, we have no indication of interception by the police. But first, we can never really know the scale of surveillance, and second, future interception might unveil and sanction today’s messages.
We therefore try to protect your data as much as possible. We communicate e.g. only encrypted with each other. And nowhere on the internet will you find a list with the addresses and names of individual citizen asylums.
To protect your data even better, it would be best if we communicated encrypted with you as well. We collected some tips for that. The best tip, however, is the following: The less information we exchange via mails and telephone and the more we talk in person, the better!
SECURE COMMUNICATION WITH THE SMARTPHONE
We recommend the free App Signal [https://www.signal.org/]. Signal is a messenger app that you can use to send end-to-end-encrypted messages and do encrypted phone calls. Signal works like whatsapp, but it protects the content of your messages much more reliably. Signal works for both Android and iPhones. The installation is easy, you can download the app for free in the Playstore / Appstore. You can also install Signal on the laptop, but you unfortunately need a smartphone for the installation (only uniquely for installation though).
We would be delighted if many (all!) participants of the citizens' asylum network increasingly communicate via signal.
SECURE COMMUNICATION VIA EMAIL
First of all, we recommend to use a non-profit mail provider that attaches importance to protection of data privacy. We recommend e.g. riseup.net or systemli.org or the (commercial) provider posteo.de. Technically, it's possible to encrypt your Gmail addresses - which is definitely better than unencrypted mail - but we doubt that Google sets a high value on protecting your data!
A "good" mail provider is not enough though, because your mails can also be intercepted and read on the way between sender and recipient. Therefore, we recommend to encrypt your mails, e.g. using Thunderbird and Enigmail. Both Thunderbird and Enigmail are Free Software and work for Windows, Mac and Linux.
The best instructions can be found here:
* for Windows: https://securityinabox.org/en/guide/thunderbird/windows/
* for MAC: https://securityinabox.org/en/guide/thunderbird/mac/
* for LINUX: https://securityinabox.org/en/guide/thunderbird/linux/
If you prefer instructions in German, then look here: https://ch-becker.de/sicherheit/emails-verschluesseln-mit-thunderbird-unter-windows/.
Finally, we strongly encourage you to use good passwords (see, for example, https://securityinabox.org/en/guide/passwords/)!
If you have questions, feel unsure about the above-mentioned options or if something does not work during the installation, feel free to contact us! We are not experts in the field ourselves, but we may be able to answer one or the other question and otherwise recommend workshops on safe communication in Berlin.