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5-Minute Overview: German Data Retention Law

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 a person using the telephone, mobile phone or e-mail for a period of six months. In the case of mobile calls or text messages on mobile phones, 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 from our personal and business relationships. Information regarding the content of communications can be deduced relating to personal interests and the individual life circumstances of the people communicating. Access to the data is to be granted to police, public prosecutors, secret services, and foreign states under the pretext of better prosecution of crimes.

At present, telecommunications providers may only retain data required for billing purposes. This is not the case with location data and information regarding e-mails, for example. Customers can request the deletion of billing data as soon as the monthly invoice has been sent out. By using a flat rate, you can prevent the collection of traffic data altogether, which can be important for journalists, counselors and others.

What is the Problem?

The current plans regarding the collection of information about communication of citizens' movements, and use of media constitute the greatest threat yet to our right for an independent and private life.

We will all suffer from unregulated data retention:

  • Data retention constitutes an excessive invasion of our personal privacy.
  • Data retention disrupts professional activities (e.g. in the fields of medicine, law, clergy, journalism, etc.) as well as political and business activities that rely on the confidentiality of communications. It ultimately harms and undermines the freedom of our society itself.
  • Data retention doesn't prevent terrorism or crime. It is unnecessary, as it can easily be circumvented by criminals.
  • Data retention violates the human right to privacy and informational self-determination.
  • Data retention puts a financial strain on both businesses and consumers.
  • Data retention discriminates against people using telephones, mobile/cell phones and internet services, as compared to people using other means of communication.

Current situation

The ruling conservative and social democrat parties have passed the law concerning the introduction of data retention in Germany. It is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2008. As soon as the law is promulgated, we will file a complaint with the Federal Constitutional Court.

Act now:

  • Participate in the "Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung" (German Work Group on Data Retention)
  • Other means of action...

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