German debate about wiretapping statistics

By EDRi · August 12, 2003

After public criticism the German ministry of economy
(Bundeswirtschaftsministerium) is withdrawing plans to discontinue the
central yearly statistics on wiretapped telephones. In an article in
‘Focus’-magazine the ministry announced its intention to change the next
draft of the telecommunications law accordingly. A week later the ministry
issued a press release denying the abolishment plan.

According to Focus, the ministry said abolition would improve
transparency. Currently, the central statistics are made up out of the raw
data from telephone companies, for every phone number, even if they refer
to the same phone line, for example with ISDN. The spokeswoman said that
the local statistics of the ‘Landesjustizverwaltungen’ and the statistics
of the ‘Generalbundesanwaltschaft’ were more meaningful, and pointed out
that no information would be lost, since every Bundesland would still
publish local statistics.

But the plans were opposed by a remarkable coalition of the ministry of
justice and journalists who pleaded to keep the central statistics.
Obviously, for journalists, comparing surveillance data from each
Bundesland is more difficult than from a central statistic. But the
resistance from the ministry of justice is noteworthy; they wish to be
able to prove wiretapping is used moderately. In 2001, according to Focus,
20.000 telephone numbers were wiretapped.

Press release Ministry of Economy (22.07.2003),did=21418.html

(Contribution by Lars Weitze, CCC)