Government surveillance of personal computers violates the individual right to privacy, Germany's highest court found Wednesday.
In the ruling, Germany's Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, established the privacy of data stored or exchanged on personal computers as a basic right protected by the nation's constitution.
"Collecting such data directly encroaches on a citizen's rights, given that fear of being observed ... can prevent unselfconscious personal communication," presiding judge Hans-Juergen Papier said in his ruling.
At the same time, Papier said authorities would be allowed to spy on suspects' computers using virus-like software in exceptional cases. However, any such action must have the approval of a judge before going forward.