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5-minute information: Data retention

According to plans of the parties CDU, CSU and SPD, from 2008 on it shall be possible to trace who has contacted whom via telephone, mobile phone or e-mail over the time of six months. For mobile calls or text messages via mobile phone the user's location will also be logged. Anonymising services are going to be illegal.

Using the data obtained about the whole population one can create a profile about a person's movements, reconstruct someone's business contacts or identify friendships. It is also possible to deduce clues about the content of the conversation, personal interests and the life circumstances of the person who communicates. Access to the data is going to be granted to the police, public prosecutors, secret services and foreign states which hope for better prosecution of crimes.

At the moment, telecommunications providers may only keep connection data they need for billing. This doesn't include location data and information about e-mails. The customer can demand that this kind of data is deleted as soon as he or she receives the bill. By using a flatrate one can entirely avoid the storage of connection data, which can be important for e.g. journalists or counsellors. Where is the problem?

The current plans concerning the storage of information about citizens' communication, movements and media usage are so far the biggest danger for our right to an independent and private life.

We would all suffer from data retention:

* Data retention means an excessive invasion into our personal privacy * Data retention has a negative influence on professional activities (in the fields of e.g. medicine, law, church, journalism) as much as political and entrepreneurial activities which demand discretion. Therefore in the end it harms our free society as such. * 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 (that means the right to control the usage of personal data by others). * Data retention is expensive and costs both the economy and the consumer money. * Data retention discriminates against users of telephone, mobile phone and internet compared to other means of communication.

Current situation

The German Federal Minister of Justice, Brigitte Zypries, is at the moment working on a draft bill concerning the installation of data retention in Germany about which the Bundestag (parliament) is going to decide in autumn. The plans are supported by both the CDU/CSU and the SPD (both major parties). But there is an increasing tendency, also in politics, to at least waith with data retention until the European Court has decided whether it is legal.

If data retention can still be prevented is to a large scale dependent on public pressure. Get active:

* Convince the parliament members belonging to the SPD, CDU and CSU * Take part in the class-action suit against data retention * Sign the appeal "SPD, CDU und CSU gegen Vorratsdatenspeicherung" ("SPD, CDU and CSU against data retention") * Participate in the "Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung" (Work Group on Data Retention) * Other possibilities to get active

Read more:

* Latest news * Background information about data retention * Pros and Cons concerning data retention * Additional information and material

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