Übersetzung/English/Class action

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Collective constitutional complaint against data retention

On November 9, 2007, the German parliament passed a draft law that includes the implementation of data retention in Germany. The law, passed with the votes of the conservative Christan Democratic Union and the center-left Social Democratic Party, is set to take effect at the beginning of 2008, pending only on the largely formal confirmation by the German President. If the law is enacted, we will lodge a constitutional complaint at the Federal Constitution Court, since mandatory and total recording of our telecommunication patterns are an egregious violation of constitutional rights, notably infringing on the privacy of telecommunications and the basic right to Informational Self-determination.

Note: Registrations and powers of attorney will only be accepted if postmarked or submitted online before December 24, 2007.


We call upon all citizens to join the constitutional complaint. Please take a moment and fill out the form below:

name, surname (required):

street number and name (required):

postcode, city (required):

e-mail address (required):

Public list of complainants I consent to having my name and hometown published on the Internet. Please mention me anonymized as in "C. H. of 1xxxx".

How are you affected by data retention? This information will be forwarded to the Federal Constitutional Court.


	I use a landline service.
	I have a landline registered in my own name.

mobile network

	I use a mobile phone network.
	I am subscribing to a mobile phone plan in my own name.


	I use e-mail.
	I have an e-mail account registered in my own name.


	I am an Internet user.
	I have an Internet access subscription (e.g. flat rate) in my own name.

Internet telephony

	I use Internet telephony (voice over IP).
	I have an Internet telephony subscription in my own name.

anonymization services

	I use anonymization services.

professions where confidence is required

	I am a priest, lawyer, notary, auditor, tax consultant, doctor, dentist, psychotherapist, pharmacist, pregnancy counselor, substance abuse counselor, member of parliament, or journalist and I am using telecommunication professionally.
	In this case, please give your profession:

provider of telecommunication services:

	I am a provider of landline or mobile network services.
	I am a provider of e-mail services.
	I am an Internet service provider (ISP).
	I am a provider of Internet telephony (voice over IP) services.
	I am a provider of anonymization services.
	please give further information:

The information you provide will only be used to carry out the complaint. It will not be stored, disclosed or used for any other purpose.

encrypted transmission (SSL)

printable participation form

Frequently asked questions

What exactly is data retention?

Information and links regarding data retention can be found in our 5-minute-info.

What exactly is the contents of the constitutional complaint?

The current draft of the complaint is available here. The following violations of basic rights are being objected to: First, complete retention of connection data violates the rights of the communicating individuals accorded by the following parts of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz, GG): Article 10(1) variant 3 GG (Privacy of telecommunication), Art. 2(1) GG, Art. 1(1) GG (Right to informational self-determination), Art. 5(1) sentence 1, main clause 1 GG (freedom of expression), Art. 5(1) sentence 1 main clause 2 GG (freedom of information), Art. 5(1), sentence 2, variant 2 GG (freedom of broadcasting). In comparison to its severe consequences and dangers, the anticipated benefits of data retention are disproportionately small. Second, the complete storage of connection data also violates the rights of companies and organisations obligated to record and store the data (Art. 12(1) GG (occupational freedom)). Third, complete retention of connection data violates the rights of communicating individuals and the rights of companies and organisations obligated to record and store the data granted in Art. 3(1) GG (equality before the law).

Who can join the constitutional complaint?

Everybody who is affected by the proposed data retention in Germany. This includes all individuals using the services of a German telecommunications provider (landline, mobile phone, e-mail and Internet services), as well as telecommunications providers themselves.

Minors need to have a parent co-sign the power of attorney.

What happens when I register?

After you have filled in the above form, a blank template for a power of attorney will be displayed. Please fill in and sign this form and send it by postal mail to attorney Meinhard Starostik in Berlin. With your signature you authorize attorney Starostik to represent you in the case at the Federal Constitutional Court.

Please refrain from calling attorney Starostik by phone, as the number of complainants is too large for him to answer all inquiries personally. If you have any questions, you are welcome to ask them by sending us an e-mail. A TV interview with attorney Starostik about the constitutional complaint against data retention is available here.

Can I register via an SSL connection?

Registration via SSL (https) is available here.

How much will it cost me to participate?

Nothing. Regardless of the verdict, the lawsuit and your representation in court are free of charge. Therefore, no court fees, attorneys' fees, or other expenses are incurred. This holds even if the constitutional complaint is not successful.

Why does the power of attorney not mention that participation is free?

Because the agreement about the attorney's fee is independent of the power of attorney. The original document granting the power of attorney will be presented to the court, but the agreement about the fee is none of the court's business.

To remove any doubts, attorney Starostik published the following statement on his homepage: "Under no circumstances will I assert a financial claim based on the recently submitted powers of attorney against signatories."

Is it possible to point out that it's free on the power of attorney?

This shouldn't be done for the reasons mentioned above. However, you could attach a separate sheet.

What exactly does the power of attorney say?

With your signature on the power of attorney you authorize attorney Starostik to represent you in the Federal Constitutional Court. The power of attorney template is a standard form which is used every time an attorney is hired.

What purpose does the authorization to receive payment, as pointed out in the power of attorney, have?

If, for example, the Federal Republic of Germany is sentenced to carry the expenses of the lawsuit, the authorization to receive payment allows attorney Starostik to collect the money in place of the complainants.

I don't have the power of attorney template anymore, where can I get a copy?

If you already registered by using the above online form, you can download the power of attorney template here.

Please note: In order for the power of attorney to be useful, you have to register via the online form. This is because the information about how you are effected by data retention has to be presented to the Federal Constitutional Court.

Why can't I open the power of attorney template?

If you are having difficulties opening the PDF version of the template, open the plain text version with a text editor instead.

Is there a printable version of the registration form?

Yes, with an instruction sheet attached. [download] Copies may be given out to anyone.

Please note that with form, the information required for registration is collected and the power of attorney is issued. It's not necessary to register online if you use this form.

When will the constitutional complaint be filed?

The constitutional complaint will be filed as soon as the law for the introduction of data retention has been published in the Federal Register (Bundesgesetzblatt). The Bundesrat is still to comment on the legislation. After that the German president will decide whether he signs the act into law.

The constitutional complaint includes a request for temporary suspension of data retention until the Federal Constitutional Court comes to a decision. This is intended to block the law from ever taking effect.

Does German law permit a class-action lawsuit?

De jure, this is not a class-action lawsuit but an 'ordinary' constitutional complaint, brought to court collectively by a great number of individuals. This is legal and has numerous precedents of cases before the Federal Constitutional Court. An example is the constitutional complaint against the expansion of electronic surveillance (großer Lauschangriff).

How many people have signed up as participants in the constitutional complaint?

As of November 21, 2007, more than 20,000 individuals have sent in a signed power of attorney.

Where can I find a public list of all complainants?

You can find a public list of complainants here.

Why is a great number of participants useful?

Legally, it doesn't make any difference whether one individual or 20,000 individuals lodge a constitutional complaint. Politically, however, a huge participation is a strong signal that citizens will not accept the majority of the parliament passing an unconstitutional law which contains elements of a totalitarian surveillance state.

From our press release:

  The call to lodge a massive class-action-style constitutional complaint is unique in German history. "The wholesale recording of all telecommunication is unique as well," argues political scientist Ralf Bendrath of the civil-liberties group Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung. "Just in case, Ms. Zypries wants to have information about our phone calls, movements, and Internet usage collected -- for the eventuality that we turn into criminals. We are recruiting complainants in case that the Social Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Union really want to go ahead with their unconstitutional plan. If the coalition intends to spy on countless people, then likewise countless people will fight this in Karlsruhe."

What media reports where there about the constitutional complaint?

   * dpa-Meldung: Bürgerrechtler aktiv gegen Vorratsdatenspeicherung (01.08.2007)
   * taz: Bürgerrechtler planen Rekord-Klage (01.08.2007)
   * Junge Welt: Auch Standort des Benutzers wird gespeichert (31.07.2007)
   * dpa-Meldung: Gegner der Vorratsdatenspeicherung gehen nach Karlsruhe (06.02.2007)
   * Hamburger Abendblatt: Bevölkerung läuft Sturm gegen Abhör-Staat (06.02.2007)
   * TV Berlin: Fernsehinterview mit padeluun und Rechtsanwalt Starostik (07.12.2006)
   * Tagesspiegel: 6000 Verfassungsbeschwerden gegen Datenspeicherung (30.11.2006)
   * Berliner Zeitung: Massenklage gegen Datensammlung (25.11.2006)
   * Frankfurter Rundschau: Klage gegen Datenspeicherung (24.11.2006)
   * ZDFheute.de: Speicherung von Vorratsdaten verfassungswidrig? (23.11.2006)
   * Neues Deutschland: Vorratsdatenspeicherung würde Fall für Karlsruhe (23.11.2006)
   * Heise Online: Massenklage gegen die Vorratsdatenspeicherung in Karlsruhe [Update] (22.11.2006) 

Is it sufficient if I register only online?

No, the original power of attorney must be presented to the Federal Constitutional Court.

Is it sufficient if I just hand in the power of attorney?

No, we need the information we're asking about in the registration form to pass it on to the Federal Constitutional Court.

However, it is sufficient to send in the combined registration form on paper. In that case it is not necessary to register online.

Can I fax the power of attorney?

No, an original power of attorney must be presented to the Federal Constitutional Court.

May I include several forms in one envelope?

Yes, that's fine.

By what date do I have to send in the power of attorney? Is there a deadline?

Registration forms and powers of attorney must be submitted or postmarked, respectively, by December 24, 2007.

Why didn't I receive a response by attorney Starostik acknowledging the receipt of my power of attorney?

Due to the large number of complainants it is currently not possible to issue individual receipts. Starting with the submission of the complaint, you will be kept up-to-date about the complaints process via e-mail.

After the law has been passed, we will notify participants who registered but for which we haven't received a power of attorney.

My address has changed. What now?

If your postal address changed, please register again, giving your new address followed by your old address (e.g. "1 Main St. (formerly: 850 2nd St.); Houston, TX 77037 (formerly: New Orleans, LA 70125; USA (formerly: USA)"). Please enter the same e-mail address as in your first registration if possible. Finally, please notify us by e-mail that you updated your information and which e-mail address you entered when registering. It is not necessary to send in another power of attorney.

How can I change my contact information or any other data besides my address?

If your information has changed or you would like to be remove from the public list of complainants, please register again and enter your current information. Please use the same e-mail address as in your first registration if possible. Finally, please notify us by e-mail that you updated your information and which e-mail address or postal address you entered when registering. It is not necessary to send in another power of attorney.

Why do I have to provide an e-mail address?

The e-mail address is necessary to update the complainants about the progress of the complaint. Notifications by postal mail are impossible due to the large number of complainants. Your e-mail address is used exclusively to carry out the complaint process. It will not be stored, disclosed, or used for other purposes.

How is my information used?

The information you provide is used exclusively to carry out the complaint process. It will not be stored, disclosed, or used for other purposes. With your permission, we include your name and hometown in the list of complainants published on the Internet.

Further questions?

Please feel free to ask any remaining questions by e-mail.

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