Thousands of Austrians standing up against data retention

By EDRi · April 25, 2012

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Deutsch: [Tausende Österreicher wehren sich gegen die Vorratsdatenspeicherung |]

Two parallel initiatives by the Austrian AK Vorrat (working group data
retention) are impressively supported by the general public. On the one
hand, the citizens initiative for the abolishment of the EU data
retention directive and the evaluation of national anti-terror
legislation has already been signed by more than 100 000 citizens. On
the other hand, already more than 7 000 persons have taken part in the
planned constitutional complaint against the national implementation of
data retention.

Last year the Austrian AK Vorrat started a citizens’ initiative in order
to commit the Austrian Government to take position against data
retention on European level and to undertake an evaluation of the
numerous national laws which have been implemented to allegedly fight
terrorism. While this initiative has so far been supported by more than
100 000 people, the AK Vorrat is planning further actions to bring data
retention to a downfall in Austria.

The Austrian government has delayed the implementation of the EU data
retention directive for a long time. In spring 2010, after the EC has
filed an infringement procedure, the government finally adopted a
respective package of measures which entered into force on 1 April 2012.

Already in 2010 the working group started its preparations for an appeal
to the Austrian Constitutional Court, but since a so-called individual
complaint can be filed only against a law in force (and when the
individual is directly affected by the challenged provisions) the
activists had to wait till April 2012.

When this day came the working group presented its plans in a press
conference. The target was to motivate about 1 000 individuals to join
the complaint against the data retention in Austria. This target was
reached only two days after its announcement. Within three weeks more
than 18 000 persons have declared their intent to join the action,
almost 7 000 of which have already submitted the necessary formal

The mass complaint against data retention seems to become the biggest
complaint in the history of the republic. In relative figures, the
number of plaintiffs in Austria is much higher than the number of
plaintiffs who supported the complaint which led to the suspension of
the German data retention law in 2010: About 34 000 Germans have
supported the appeal – at a population of more than 80 million. The
number of 7 000 Austrian plaintiffs at a population of about 8 million
is twice as much than in Germany.

Nevertheless some experts do not believe that the complaint will be
successful in bringing down data retention in Austria. They claim that
the Austrian Court is generally much more conservative in its rulings
compared to the German judges and that the Austrian judges tend to
rubber stamp what is determined by the EU.

The AK Vorrat activists are still quite optimistic about convincing the
Constitutional Court. Their aim is not only to achieve a decision to
reject the Austrian legislation for the implementation of data retention
(as it happened in Germany or in the Czech Republic). They want to
convince the Court that data retention per se is not compatible with
fundamental rights at all.

The initiative represents among others EDRi member VIBE!AT, lawyers from
the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights and several activists. It
is supported by green MP Albert Steinhauser. They call on for further
support of the complaint.

All Austrian inhabitants who want to join the appeal are encouraged to
send their declarations of support by 18 May 2012. Declaration forms are
available at

Also the citizens initiative is still open for support. All Austrians
starting from the age of 16 can support the initiative online at

Constitutional Complaint against the national implementation of data
retention (only in German)

Citizens Initiative for the abolishment of the EU Data Retention
directive and evaluation of national anti-terror legislation (only in

Arbeitskreis Vorratsdaten Österreich ( (only in German)

EDRi-gram: Austria: Petition against Data Retention Directive

(Contribution by Andreas Krisch – EDRi-member VIBE!AT)