German Parliament adopted the data retention law

By EDRi · November 21, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The German Federal Parliament adopted on 10 November 2007 the law that
implements the EU data retention directive in the German legislation by
amending the current wire tapping legislation. This has triggered a strong
reaction of the opposition and civil society, more than 13 000 citizens
signing to challenge of the law to the Constitutional Court.

The law passed in an open vote (on request by the Greens and the Liberal
Party) with 366 parliamentarians voting for the data retention regulations
and 156 against them. The members of the SPD (Social Democratic Party), CDU
(Christian Democratic Union) and CSU (Christian Social Union) voted for the
law pushed by the Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries and Federal
Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble.

The new law will enter into force on 1 January 2008, when all the
telecommunication providers will be requested to keep the traffic data for
six months. For the Internet services, this obligation will start at the
beginning of 2009. The Internet traffic data will include storing the email
addresses, IPs and time stamps in the case of electronic mail. The providers
of anonymisation services are also obliged to respect the same provisions.

All these data will be accessible to the law enforcement authorities. But
while the police, court and state prosecutors will need a court order to
access the information, others – such as the intelligent services – will be
able to access the data without any restriction.

The adoption of the law by the Parliament led to a massive response from
the civil society, media associations and opposition. The number of the
signatories of the constitutional challenge of the law reached to 13 000 in
just a few days. The German working group on data retention that is leading
this action announced that the list is still open for signatories until 24
December. The action can be filed with the court in Karlsruhe only after the
law has been published in the Official Gazette.

Patrick Breyer from the working group explains: “According to our
constitution, parliament’s powers are limited by the civil rights. It is
unheard of that some representatives seem to think that they are no longer
responsible for the up-holding of our civil rights.”

Criticism of the law was made by the personal data protection authorities,
such as the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar
complaining that the Federal Parliament “agreed to the data retention of
telecommunication data in absence of any suspicion irrespective of the grave
doubts as to its constitutionality” and explaining that the German law
exceeds the EU directive on data retention. The Commissioner for Data
Protection to the State of Saxony, Anhalt Harald von Bose, joined the harsh
comments: “To see this cut-back on personal liberty rights occur on the day
of the Fall of the Wall, November 9, is a bitter fact of life.”

Media associations have also complained about the lack of special
requirements in the case of confidential relationships in professional
contexts. The board of the German Journalists’ Union, part of the trade
union, asked their members to support the constitutional challenge
promoted by the civil society. Other journalist associations, such as the
Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers, the Association of
German Magazine Publishers and the German Association of Specialised
Journalists steeped up to show their concerns on the adopted law.

Even the former Federal Minister of Justice Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has
renewed her criticism against the state mandated “retention-craze”. There
would be “a real chance that this could lead to a surveillance society”, she

German Data Retention working group

Parliament voted in favour of revision of data retention law (10.11.2007)

Federal Parliament passes data retention and wire tapping legislation

Sharp response to rubber stamping of data retention legislation (17.11.2007)

13,000 determined to file suit against data retention legislation

EDRI-gram: Largest anti-surveillance street protest in Germany for 20 years