Online privacy in Germany is over

02.01.2008 | Christian Kreutz

This blog post veers a little bit from my usual topics, but in my opinion it is still quite important. Since January 1st, Germany has had a new online surveillance law. The result is an unfortunate wide scale intervention in the privacy of German citizens. Once again, it is another anti-terrorism law since 9/11. It strikes me how these laws systemically undermine citizen rights. Furthermore, I doubt very much it will help fighting terrorism. I also criticize that it suspects that all internet users are potentials criminals. Here is a detailed explanation about the law's consequences by the Vorratsdatenspeicherung initiative:

According to a law passed by the German parties CDU, CSU and SPD, from 2008 on it will be possible to trace who has contacted whom via telephone, mobile phone or e-mail for a period of six months. In the case of mobile calls or text messages via mobile phone, the user's location will also be logged. Anonymising services will be prohibited.

The data that will be collected about the entire population will allow our movements to be traced, any calls or communications with personal and business contacts to be monitored and will remove privacy in our personal relationships. Information regarding the content of communications can be deduced relating to personal interests and the individual life circumstances of the persons communicating. Access to the data is to be granted to the police, public prosecutors, secret services and foreign states which hope for better prosecution of crimes.

**Luckily there is good news. A constitutional complaint against the law has been filed in the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany. 30.000 complaints were collected -- **never seen before in German history. I really hope this complaint will inhibit the law. The blog Netzpolitik is giving updates but only in German language.

These are the complaints in detail from the initiative against this law, which I fully share:

  • Data retention constitutes an excessive invasion into our personal privacy.
  • Data retention disrupts professional activities (e.g. in the fields of medicine, law, clergy, journalism) as well as political and business activities that rely on discretion. It ultimately harms our free society itself.
  • Data retention doesn't prevent terrorism or crime. It is unnecessary and can easily be circumvented by criminals.
  • Data retention violates the human right to privacy and informational self-determination.
  • Data retention puts a financial strain both on businesses and consumers.
  • Data retention discriminates against users of telephone, mobile phone and internet services in comparison to other means of communication. Data retention constitutes an excessive invasion into our personal privacy.