Data retention and increased surveillance in Germany

By EDRi · April 25, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The German government has approved the draft legislation that implements the
data retention directive, but the political opposition and the growing
anti-surveillance movement shows an important resistance to the new plans of
the federal Minister for the interior, Wolfgang Schäuble, who wants an ever
increased surveillance.

The draft bill adopted by the German Government on 18 April 2007, was called
by the Minister of Justice, Brigitte Zypries, “reasonable and
constitutional.” But the adopted draft expands what was initially
proposed by Zypres, making traffic data accessible not only for criminal
prosecution purposes, but also in order to “prevent considerable dangers”
and “fulfil the legal duties” of all security police. Zypries also stated
“the data retained could be used to prevent crime… if the police laws of
the German states allow for this.”

The e-mail can be used anonymously, but the anonymization services will also
be obliged to retain data. Providers of e-mail services will basically
have to keep records of the following: the user’s IP address for each e-mail
sent and for each access to the inbox as well as the sender’s network ID for
every e-mail received.

At the same time, the Federal Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble,
has presented a new “list of horror” that includes doing “preventive”
dragnet investigations (i.e. data mining in private databases without
suspicion), storing fingerprints and other biometric data of all Germans who
have passport data in a networked database, secretly hacking into citizens’
computers or performing “preventive” phone interception.

But more voices rise against the new plans. The journalists’ and
publishers’ organizations saw the secrecy of their sources under attack by
the data retention bill, and most mass media have more or less openly
positioned themselves against the plans.

Leading Social Democrats are openly moving away from Schäuble, and some have
even compared his attitude to that of Guantanamo. Even a few prominent
conservatives have tried to slow him down and the police union has openly
questioned the necessity of these measures.

Also the recent demonstration “Freiheit statt Angst” (Freedom instead of
Fear) against growing surveillance, organized by the Working Group against
Data Retention and supported by EDRi-members CCC, FIFF, FITUG, FOEBUD, NNM,
and others, has gathered more than 2000 people in Frankfurt on 14 April 2007
in the biggest demonstration for privacy since the 1980s. Supporters have
been very wide-ranging, from radical anti-fascist groups to the opposition
parties and the federation of women emergency call centres. The ISP
associations did not officially support this, but a lot of them helped with
logistics behind the scenes. Many of the ISP workers from Frankfurt also
took part in the demonstration.

The working group against data retention has also gathered more than 12 000
supporters for a constitutional court challenge against data retention since
November 2006. It will be submitted on the day the bill is enacted. This
will be the largest constitutional court case in Germany ever.

The adoption of the data retention bill a few days after the demonstration,
as well as Schäuble’s plans, combined with an unclear statement by him on
the presumption of innocence, have led to an outcry in the last few days.
The said-to-be-non-political German blogosphere discussed these developments
at a large gathering in Berlin two weeks ago and, as a follow-up, has issued
a call for creative resistance. Above all, blog posts that contain “Stasi
2.0” (a reference to East German secret police) with a picture of minister
Schäuble are spreading quickly at the moment.

German government approves retention of data (19.04.2007)

Surveillance plans and the growing privacy movement in Germany (20.04.2007)

Demonstration “Freiheit statt Angst” (Freedom instead of Fear) (only in
German, 14.04.2007)

#unteilbar – Demo in Berlin

Stasi 2.0 – Germany moving towards surveillance state

(Thanks to Ralf Bendrath – EDRI member Netzwerk Neue Medien)