German data retention act challenged

By EDRi · January 16, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

Just five days after the German President Horst Köhler approved the German
data retention law that entered into force on 1 January 2008, the German
Working group on data retention (Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung)
challenged the law in the Federal German Constitutional Court.

The complaint was filed with the Court on 31 December 2007 and, for the
first time in the German history, it was backed by 30 000 complainants. The
150-page notice of appeal requested an immediate suspension of the law on
the grounds of “apparent unconstitutionality”.

The Working Group explains that the appeal is substantiated by the fear that
general data retention might severely disrupt free communication in Germany
by treating each and every citizen as a potential delinquent.

“According to the complaint, the pervasive logging of communication patterns
without reasonable suspicion resembled a serious encroachment upon the basic
values of constitutional legality. On the other hand, it would compromise
the working basis of professionals such as journalists and criminal
prosecutors as well as that of charitable services like crisis lines – all
of which relied greatly on the anonymity of both whistle-blowers and people
in need. In the future, sensitive contacts and communication would either
have to be conducted in person and face-to-face or would have to be
abandoned altogether.”

The Group is also publishing guidelines and recommendations for safeguarding
individuals against the obligatory logging of all telecommunications
effective as of 2008.

The constitutional action was backed by protests in several cities in
Germany on 31 December 2007 against the new data retention legislation. In
Hamburg the critics held a mock funeral for “the death of privacy.”

Some of the German ISPs that need to comply with the law by 2009, are also
relying of the constitutional challenge to succeed. Frank Simon, managing
director of Oldburg-based Ecce Terram explained to Heise: “I reckon the
Federal Constitutional Court will overturn the law this year or ask the
criminal prosecution authority to suspend it because the music and film
industries will overload them with so many complaints that the hunt for
terrorists and child pornographers will be seriously hampered.”

Constitutional complaint filed against German Telecomms Data Retention Act

In German,de/

Germans File Mass Lawsuit Against Sweeping Data Retention Law (31.12.2007),2144,3025009,00.html

Data retention: ISPs rely on constitutional appeals and exception rules

EDRi-gram: German Parliament adopted the data retention law (21.11.2007)

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