German Cyber Investigation Angecy, ZIT Goes Undercover


With an increase in the dark net’s use for illegal activities, more governmental agencies are taking a proactive approach to fighting the crime. A German cybercrimes agency by the name of ZIT has recently begun going undercover to attempt to hinder the illegal use of the dark net. ZIT is short for the Central Office for Combating Internet Crime. Weapons, drugs and child pornography receive the most attention of the agency.

Andreas May — ZIT’s attorney general — was interviewed early this month by a German news agency, NDR. ZIT infiltrates dark net markets by using covert investigators to purchase drugs and lure the sellers into traps. ZIT stated that once dealers fall into the trap, “authorities can, under certain conditions, take over the account and thus come to other persons who are active in [the darknet].”

May stated that they have high success with drugs, but less with child pornography. In cases of child pornography, often times investigators have to halt the investigation because sellers ask them to upload pictures of their own to validate their accounts. “This is, of course, a crime that we are not allowed to commit,” May stated.

The interviewer ended with a question of whether or not he would like the breaking of encryption or anonymizing, May responded with a statement very welcome to those who believe in personal freedom and privacy. “Of course, we would wish that sometimes, but we should be realistic. You have to live with anonymity. There will be more and more of this, and it also has very comprehensible, sensible purposes. It makes sense in many areas to encrypt its communication. These are technologies that we use ourselves. But, of course, it makes the investigation effort much bigger and the possibilities of investigation ever lower. But a ban on anonymisation makes no sense.

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