German government rejects data retention

By EDRi · March 11, 2004

On Friday 12 March the German Parliament (Bundestag) will discuss the
proposal for a new Telecommunication Law in second and third reading. The
government coalition (made up of Social Democrats and Greens) has softened
many of the proposed new telecommunication surveillance powers.

There won’t be mandatory general data retention and the costs of
handing-over data about customers will be reimbursed on a case-by-case
basis. Also, the idea – introduced in the draft of 15 October 2003 – to
introduce mandatory identification for pre-paid phone-cards is gone. (See
an earlier report in EDRI-gram 21)

Originally the Bundesrat, the council of the federal states, demanded that
service providers should store all data about all the telecom activities
of their users for a period of 6 months, including for example information
about telephone calls, SMS and internet traffic. Both privacy authorities
and the industry protested against these wishes and objections were raised
in parliament.

According to the Social Democrat telecom spokesperson Hubertus Heil, there
will be an appropriate reimbursement for any demand of customer data, not
for the investments in surveillance equipment and infrastructure. Heil
refers to this as ‘the Austrian model’, in spite of the fact that
providers in that country are in fact reimbursed for infrastructure since
2004, after the Constitutional Court declared the cost-shift from
government to industry unconstitutional.

If parliament accepts the law, the Bundesrat still has to accept. This is
not likely to happen, since it is dominated by Christian Democrats. In
that case a conciliatory procedure will be necessary to create a

Rot-Grün entschärft Überwachungsklauseln im TK-Gesetz (09.03.2004)

Overview of the legislative process (in German)

Report by Andreas Neumann in EDRI-gram nr. 21 (05.11.2203)