Germany: Data retention is disproportionate

By EDRi · March 25, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Deutschland: Vorratsdatenspeicherung ist unverhältnismäßig |]

Macedonian: [Германија: Задржувањето на податоци е непропорционално |,mk/]

The German Working Group on Data Retention (AK Vorrat) announced that the
Administrative Court of Wiesbaden found the blanket recording of the entire
population’s traffic data on telephone, mobile phone, e-mail and Internet
usage is disproportionate.

The decision of the court is “that data retention violates the fundamental
right to privacy. It is not necessary in a democratic society. The
individual does not provoke the interference but can be intimidated by the
risks of abuse and the feeling of being under surveillance (…) The
directive (on data retention) does not respect the
principle of proportionality guaranteed in Article 8 ECHR, which is why it
is invalid.”

AK Vorrat, that has also initiated the Constitutional complaint against the
German Data retention law, used this opportunity to address another digital
civil rights fear: a government project to allow Internet service providers
to record everybody’s Internet surfing habits. The project was debated
on 19 March by the German Bundestag in the first reading.

Started as a project to better protect the computer networks against any
cyber-attacks, the new draft has been criticized by the Privacy
Commissioner of the Federal Government, Peter Schaar, who considered that
the draft needed to be revised and several law provisions needed to be

The draft also contains an amendment to the Telemedia Act, which allows
service providers, using data they are allowed to store and process for
legal purposes, to use the information for identifying surfing habits. The
amendemnt is justified by the necessity of the protection against malicious
software and other similar threats.

“We call on all citizens to contact their MPs now in order to protest
against the proposed retention of web surfing habits,” says Werner Hülsmann,
member of the board of the forum of computer scientists for peace and social
responsibility, actively working in the Working Group on Data Retention.

“The recent criticism by Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble
(CDU) of the Constitutional Court’s preliminary decision on data retention
proves that his surveillance mania is limitless”, criticizes Patrick Breyer
of the Working Group on Data Retention. “It is not ‘a matter for the
legislature’ to keep eroding our constitutional guarantees protecting us
from errors and abuses by the authorities. We urgently need to establish a
Fundamental Rights Agency to have all existing powers and programs of the
security authorities systematically and scientifically reviewed as to their
effectiveness, cost, adverse effects, alternatives and compatibility with
our fundamental rights.”

Despite all the different European attempts to stop data retention, the day
of 15 March 2009, imposed by the EU data retention directive, marks the
starting point for ISPs to collect and store traffic data in several
European countries.

Administrative Court: Data retention is “invalid” (16.03.2009),en/

Video: Bundestag debates draft law (only in German, 25.03.2009),de/

Protection against hackers, surveillance fears (only in German, 19.03.2009)