Stop data retention in Germany and the European Union

Germany must show true leadership and set a strong precedent in the EU against the use of mass data retention to fight serious crimes. Mass data retention is one of the most privacy-intrusive instruments that treat everybody as criminals by presumption. It is high time that European governments implement rights-respecting and proportionate solutions in police investigations. Read the open letter EDRi and 12 civil society organisations sent to the German ministers of the Federal Ministry of the Interior to urge them to stop the use of data retention practices in crime investigations.

By Digitale Gesellschaft (guest author) · June 2, 2022

It is been more than ten years now since tens of thousands of people came out on the streets of Berlin and other German cities to protest against data retention. Since then many court decisions have declared data retention unconstitutional and in violation of European law. The retention of phone, internet and location data of millions of citizens, without any specific reason, is incompatible with the fundamental values of a free and open society. Germany must show true leadership and set a strong precedent in the EU against the use of mass data retention to fight serious crimes. Mass data retention is one of the most privacy-intrusive instruments that treat everybody as criminals by presumption. It is high time that European governments implement rights-respecting and proportionate solutions in police investigations. Read the open letter EDRi and 12 civil society organisations sent to the German ministers of the Federal Ministry of the Interior to urge them to stop the use of data retention practices in crime investigations.

 


To the German ministers of the Federal Ministry of the Interior on the occasion of the spring conference of the state Ministers and Senators of the Interior in W├╝rzburg from 1 to 3 June 2022.

It is been more than ten years now since tens of thousands of people came out on the streets of Berlin and other German cities to protest against data retention. Since then many court decisions have declared data retention unconstitutional and in violation of European law. The retention of phone, internet and location data of millions of citizens, without any specific reason, is incompatible with the fundamental values of a free and open society.

Digital rights activists and experts have been long calling for an end to mass surveillance practices that severely undermine our fundamental rights, the German government made a commitment in its coalition agreement to replace the data retention proposal with a legally secure and targeted solution. Unfortunately, the government coalition has not yet presented any concrete plan on how it will implement this promise to the German public.

A fundamental rights-based security policy must not push the limits of constitutionality. The current German policy not only leads to a gradual erosion of the rule of law but also to years of uncertainty, creating an incomprehensible legal situation for both people and security authorities.

We are very concerned to see that for years some EU governments have been failing to implement the decisions of the EU Court of Justice (CJEU). Instead, they have created laws that do not meet the legal requirements for the protection of citizens’ privacy. Some of these rules violate European law and lead to mass surveillance, which the CJEU has repeatedly and explicitly deemed as illegal. Concepts such as geographically “targeted data retention”, the blanket reference to “national security” or the general retention of IP addresses do not change the illegality of data retention practices.

We, therefore, urge you to stop data retention and the undignified wrangling before the courts and to take the lead on a national and European level for a definitive end to mass surveillance and the violation of fundamental rights.

Read the open letter in German published by EDRi member Digitale Gesellschaft.