Largest anti-surveillance street protest in Germany for 20 years

By EDRi · September 26, 2007

On Saturday, 22 September 2007, more than 15,000 took to the streets of
Berlin under the slogan “Liberty instead of Fear – stop the Surveillance
Mania!”. Several Civil Liberty organisations, affiliated in the “Working
Group Data Retention” (Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung), organised the

55 groups called for participation, among them the “Young Liberals” (Junge
Liberale, Youth organisation of the FDP), Buendnis 90 / Die Gruenen, ver.di,
journalist associations, ATTAC, the Protestant telephone Counselling
(evangelische Telefonseelsorge), medical associations, FoeBuD e.V., and the
Chaos Computer Club. German EDRi members CCC, FIfF, FoeBuD and NNM played an active
role in organizing the protest. Police initially estimated 8,000 participants, later
correcting their count to confirm the working group’s numbers.

“This is the largest protest for civil liberties and privacy protection
since the census in 1987”, Thilo Weichert, data protection commissioner of
Schleswig-Holstein said to news portal

Rena Tangens of FoeBuD e.V.: “The overwhelming success of this
protest shows that by now a large proportion of the population are
worried about our constitutional state. Citizens do not want our
democracy to be turned into a surveillance state. The Bundestag
must reject the proposed date retention bill.”

The large turnout of 15,000 shows that people consider the continuing
tightening of security and surveillance laws to be decidedly too
far-reaching. Citizens are concerned, not because of the supposed
danger of international terrorism, but because of the impertinence
and lack of restraint security politicians show in declaring civil
rights and liberties defunct. The large cross-section of society
participating in the demonstration makes it evident that these are
not the views only a few civil rights experts, but that the issue
now unites broad parts of the population. Politics cannot ignore this

The organisers decisively criticised actions by the police, as well as some
radical left-wing demonstrators: “A bloc of radical left-wing
demonstrators did not abide by police obligations. The police in
turn used disproportionate means in reaction to violations such as
disguising and use of oversize banners, and did not appear to pursue
de-escalation in all situations. The massive use of video cameras
by the police, especially at this particular protest march, was a
provocation. Overall, however, these were marginal incidents which
did not impair the progress of the demonstration.”

Rena Tangens remarked, “On balance it was a very positive, creative
and colourful demonstration, in which hackers demonstrated peacefully
beside doctors, and the ‘Young Liberals’ beside the ‘Left Party’
(Linkspartei).” The Giant Data-Octopus (“Datenkrake”) of FoeBuD e.V.,
the “glass patient” on the car of the “Freie Aerzteschaft” (an
occupational union of physicians), as well as several trojan horses
were among the March’s highlights.

Patrick Breyer of the Working Group Data Retention announces further
activities: “We will resist data retention by all legal means.”
According to the working group about 20,000 citizens have already
declared their support for the prepared constitutional recourse
(Verfassungsbeschwerde) against data retention.

Among other things the demonstration takes a stand against the
retention of data about telecommunication behaviour of the entire
population, that is on this Autumn’s political agenda in Germany,
as well as against the covert online-searching of computers. Key
demands include a halt to new surveillance laws and a review of
existing surveillance laws.

Home page of the demonstration – Working Group Data Retention

Radio1984 feature live from the demonstration (22.09.2007)

German version

Biggest demonstration for more data protection and privacy since 20 years!
(in German only, 22.09.2007)

Grösste Demonstration für mehr Datenschutz seit 20 Jahren!

Thousands of citizens demonstrate for “Freedom instead of Fear” (in German
only, 22.09.2007)

Berlin Data Tussles (in German only, 24.09.2007)ämpfe/256868.html

Biggest data protection demonstration within 20 years (in German only,

Other articles about the demonstration (in German only)

(Contribution by Jan E. Hennig and Bernd Sieker, EDRI-member FoeBuD – Germany)