German Man Is Arrested Over Hacking of Public Figures’ Data

BERLIN — The German authorities have arrested a man suspected of stealing the personal data of hundreds of lawmakers, journalists and other personalities and of illegally publishing the information on the internet, the Federal Criminal Office said on Tuesday.

Officers searched the 20-year-old suspect’s home on Sunday, two days after the hacking attacks were made public, and confiscated his computers and papers. German news outlets reported that the suspect, who was not identified by the authorities, had confessed to the crime.

Prosecutors in Frankfurt, who are responsible for cybercrime, were expected to give more information at a news conference later Tuesday.

Opposition lawmakers have criticized security officials and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s interior minister for failing to discover the incursion until nearly a month after the information was first published online. The hacker released the information through links and passwords posted on Twitter in the form of an Advent calendar, where a window is opened each day leading up to Christmas, revealing a treat.

Early postings involved the persona information of rappers, journalists and YouTube video bloggers, but from Dec. 20, information on members of five of the six political parties with seats in the German Parliament was released. The only exception was the far-right party Alternative for Germany, or AfD.

The attacks fueled a new round of alarm in Germany, a country where citizens especially covet their privacy, and raised questions about whether the government had structures in place to adequately help users safeguard their computers and sensitive personal information.

Katarina Barley, the justice minister, said her office was looking into whether it made sense to further tighten the country’s already strict privacy laws, or those requiring software providers and companies running internet platforms to respond more swiftly to requests for data to be taken down.

“We are examining whether tightening the laws would make sense or be necessary,” Ms. Barley said. She also encouraged Germans to use strong passwords and two-step verification to access to their online accounts.