German officials defend plan to spy on suspects via web

German officials defended a proposal to use 'Trojan horse' software to secretly monitor potential terror suspects' hard drives, amid fierce debate over whether the measures violate civil liberties, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble wants to include the measure in a broader security law being considered by conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government.

Schaeuble defended the tactic in an interview with n-tv television, calling the ongoing debate 'completely exaggerated,' underlining that judicial approval would be required before the measures could be used. 'It's about a few isolated cases,' the Associated Press report said.

Carried in e-mails that appear to come from other government offices, the software would allow authorities to investigate suspects' Internet use and the data stored on their hard drives without their knowledge, the report said.

Use of the government-produced technology for spying on terror suspects 'will cover a serious and scandalous hole in our information that has arisen through technical changes in recent years,' Stefan Kaller, a spokesman for Schaeuble told reporters.

The proposal stems from a Federal Court decision earlier this year to block clandestine remote searches of suspect computers until there was a law governing the practice.

It has met with strong criticism from opposition parties and civil liberties groups.