Germany: Police statistics prove data retention superfluous

By EDRi · June 15, 2011

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Deutsch: [Deutschland: Kriminalstatistik entlarvt Vorratsdatenspeicherung als überflüssig |]

The national crime statistics recently published by Germany’s Federal Crime
Agency reveal that after the policy of blanket telecommunications data
retention was discontinued in Germany due to a Constitutional Court ruling
on 3 March 2010, registered crime continued to decline and the crime
clearance rate was the highest ever recorded (56,0%). Indiscriminate and
blanket telecommunications data retention had no statistically relevant
effect on crime or crime clearance trends. These findings confirm the
position of more than 100 organisations in Europe that are opposing the EU
policy of mass retention of telecommunications data, calling it unnecessary
and disproportionate.

The statistics refute the myth spread by certain politicians and police
representatives that the Internet is “a lawless space” in the absence of
mass retention of telecommunications data of non-suspects. Even without such
a policy of blanket data retention, the German police achieved a clearance
rate of nearly three out of four Internet offences (71%) in 2010, exceeding
by far the average clearance rate for crimes committed without any use of
the Internet (55%).

Regarding other European countries, the Scientific Services of the German
Parliament have recently analysed “the practical effects of data retention
on crime clearance rates in EU Member States” and have come to the following
conclusion: “In most States crime clearance rates have not changed
significantly between 2005 and 2010. Only in Latvia did the crime clearance
rate rise significantly in 2007. However, this is related to a new Criminal
Procedure Law and is not reported to be connected to the transposition of
the EU Data Retention Directive.”

“Since crime clearance trends are completely unaffected by the retention of
communications data of non-suspects, there is no justification for the EU’s
“big brother” policy of collecting telecommunications data on all 500
million EU citizens”, explains Florian Altherr, member of the German Working
Group on Data Retention. “Ninety-eight percent of citizens are never
suspected of any wrongdoing. The right of protection of their personal data
from unjustified suspicion, data abuse and data loss due to data retention
policies must prevail. The EU must respect its Charter of Fundamental Rights
and give up its failed experiment of total data retention immediately.”

“In light of these new crime statistics, the irresponsible campaign of fear
and continued scaremongering by some politicians after the annulment of the
German data retention law finds no justification in reality”, says Michael
Ebeling of the German Working Group on Data Retention. “The truth is that
with targeted investigations of suspects we live just as safely as we would
with a policy of indiscriminate retention of all communications data. The
endless exaggeration and emotionally charged descriptions of isolated cases
combined with a massive media campaign is both misleading and unethical. In
my view this is nothing less than a populist defence of the most privacy
invasive and unpopular surveillance measure ever adopted by the EU.”

German police statistics prove telecommunications data retention superfluous

EDRi-gram: German study finds the data retention ineffective (9.02.2011)

(Thanks to AK Vorrat – Germany)