Millions of credit cards scrutinized in Germany

By EDRi · January 17, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

During an operation carried out by the German police, prosecuting
authorities and State Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA) of the federal
state of Saxony-Anhalt millions of credit card transactions were scrutinized
in September 2006.

A spokesman from LKA stated that indeed a large amount of credit cards were
verified although he could not confirm the number of 22 millions for 2006.
But he stated that approx. 22 million credit cards were scrutinized in 2005.

According to Der Spiegel, an individual offered online information to the
police directing the agents of Zentralstelle gegen Kinderpornografie
(Central Office for Combating Child Pornography) in Halle to a suspicious
Internet site offering child pornographic material. For a period of 20 days,
the amount of about 60 euro payable by credit card was asked to customers
for the access to the site. The credit cards companies were asked to give
information on whom transferred that amount of money to a suspicious bank
account abroad, over that period of time. It seems that all credit cards
companies cooperated with the police.

DAV (German Bar Association) has expressed its concern related to this
action and decided to examine closely the legal ramifications of this new
criminal investigation approach as Hartmut Kilger, DAV President told
Reutlinger General-Anzeiger. “Voluntarily handing over such data to the
authorities is dubious behavior, because what it amounts to is the
outsourcing of profiling-type data trawling operations to private
companies” he stated.

Surprisingly, privacy watchdogs consider this type of approach is providing
no grounds for legal objections. Thilo Weichert, the Data Protection
Commissioner of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein thinks that banks
are entitled to make credit card information related to suspects available
to the prosecuting authorities, under certain conditions, and remarked that:
“The means applied here boil down to a classical method of criminal
investigation, to which no legal objections can be raised.”

Child pornography operation occasions scrutiny of millions of credit card
transactions (9.01.2007)

Lawyers’ association criticizes scrutiny of credit card transactions