International Action Day "Freedom not Fear" – 11.10.2008

By EDRi · October 22, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The first worldwide protests against surveillance measures such as the
collection of all telecommunications data, the surveillance of air
travellers and the biometric registration of citizens were held on 11
October 2008 under the motto “Freedom not Fear – Stop the surveillance
mania!”. In at least 15 countries citizens demanded a cutback on
surveillance, a moratorium on new surveillance powers and an independent
evaluation of existing surveillance powers. “A free and open society cannot
exist without unconditionally private spaces and communications”, explains
an international memorandum.

The greatest protest march against surveillance in Germany’s history took
place in Berlin. Participants in the 2 km long peaceful protest march
carried signs reading “You are Germany, you are a suspect”, “No Stasi 2.0 –
Constitution applicable here”, “Fear of Freedom?” and “Glass citizens,
brittle democracy”. Apart from related music tracks, loud chants of
“Belittle it today, be under surveillance tomorrow” or “We are here and we
are loud because they are stealing our data” could be heard. During the
protests, which were supported by more than 100 civil liberties groups,
professional associations, unions, political parties and other
organisations, artists played parodies on surveillance society.

In their final speeches in front of the Brandenburg Gate, the
organisers called for political consequences: padeluun of civil
liberties group FoeBuD said that in view of the mass protests
politicians needed to react now and repeal the blanket retention of
all telecommunications data introduced in 2006. Patrick Breyer of German
Working Group on Data Retention (AK Vorrat) presented a five point plan
according to which surveillance should be reduced, existing laws should be
evaluated and plans for new surveillance measures should
be halted. In the course of a “new, freedom-loving security policy”
specific preventive measures such as youth projects should be
invested in and the “real problems” of people such as poverty and
education should be focused on. Ricardo Cristof Remmert-Fontes of AK Vorrat
announced further action and invited participants to join parties held in
seven participating clubs in Berlin under the motto “The long night of

In other countries, the following events took place in the course of
yesterday’s “Freedom not Fear” day: Protest event with music and
several art performances in Den Haag, lectures in Rome, surveillance
camera mapping in Madrid, art performances in front of Parliament in
Vienna, protest rallies in Paris, Prague, Sofia and Stockholm, the
distribution of privacy software in Copenhagen, informative events
in Guatemala City and Buenos Aires as well as a projection of light
onto Toronto’s Town Hall. In London, the construction of a surveillance
state was opposed by creating a massive collage of photos on Parliament
Square showing the prime minister and the action day’s motto “Freedom not

Before the action day, Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung had
warned of a “surveillance avalanche in Germany”: According to the
group, the German Parliament has tightened surveillance and control
over citizens at least 21 times in the past 10 years. At least 18
more surveillance proposals are presently on the political agenda,
for example the blanket collection of air travellers’ data and the
transfer of personal data to the US.

In an opinion published on 14 October 2008, the competent Advocate General
at the European Court of Justice considered that the EU directive on data
retention was enacted on the correct legal basis. The German Working Group
on Data Retention pointed out that the Advocate General’s opinion only
concerns the action brought by the Irish government which is
limited to formal issues. It is not concerned with the fact that registering
the telecommunications behaviour and movements of the entire EU population
in the absence of any reasonable suspicion is clearly disproportionate and
violates human rights.

If the Court follows the Advocate General’s opinion and dismisses Ireland’s
suit, it will need to consider the compatibility with human rights in a
second proceeding. This second proceeding is likely to be initiated by the
German Federal Constitutional Court where a suit of more than 34 000
citizens against data retention is pending.

In another case, The German Federal Constitutional Court is expected to
decide shortly on an application for a preliminary injunction against the
German law on data retention. The application is directed mainly against the
retention of Internet access, anonymizing services and e-mail data which is
to become effective on 1 January 2009. The Constitutional Court’s final
judgement will probably be passed after the European Court of Justice has
decided on the human rights issues.

International Action Day “Freedom not fear – Stop the surveillance mania!”
on 11 October 2008,en/

Freedom Not Fear: the Big Picture unveiled on Parliament Square (11.10.2008)

Advocate General Bot considets that the directive on data retention is
founded on an appropriate legal basis (14.10.2008)

Constitutional complaint filed against German Telecomms Data Retention Act,en/

(contribution by German Working Group on Data Retention)