New German proposal for mandatory data retention

By EDRi · June 2, 2004

According to the German e-zine Heise there is a new proposal for mandatory data retention in Germany. Just a few weeks ago, a final compromise was reached on the new Telecommunications Act, without any obligations for systematic data retention. But the Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily, is now said to work on a law that would oblige telecom and service providers to store information about everybody’s calling and internet behaviour for at least 1 year. The German Multimedia Federation (DMMV), with 1.000 members one of the largest professional digital economy associations in Europe, criticised the proposal. The proposal is not yet public, but according to their sources close to the Minister, Schily wants to introduce the law to facilitate the pursuit of criminal offences as well as the monitoring of persons suspected of terrorism.

DMMV criticises the proposal as an attempt to eliminate the right to informational self-determination. “Mandatory data retention violates the fundamental rights of innocent citizens and places everybody under suspicion of terrorism.” Arndt Groth, the chairman of the multimedia association, said that while the retained data would belong mainly to blameless users, experience learned that criminals and terrorists are very capable of hiding their traces with the assistance of anonymisation services or encryption. He estimated providers and network carriers would be forced to make investments up to a three-figure amount in millions of euros, to pay for the necessary storage media and appropriate data protection measures.

Germany, together with Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, is one of the few remaining countries in the EU without any provisions for general mandatory data retention, though in most countries proposals are underway. In April 2004 the European Council welcomed a joint proposal from France, Great Britain, Ireland and Sweden to create a framework decision that would oblige all member states to store all telecommunication traffic data over a period of 12 to 36 months.

Heise ‘Otto Schily will Verbindungsdaten laenger speichern’ (30.05.2004) (in German)

EDRI-gram 2.9 ‘New EU proposal to store telecom data 450 million citizens’ (05.05.2004)