|Alarming secret German deal on disclosure of personal data to the US published (2008-09-25)|
Civil liberties, data protection and internet activists united in the German NGO “Working Group on data retention” (Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung) today published a secret treaty on the disclosure of information about Europeans to US authorities (www.vorratsdatenspeicherung.de). The activist group warns ratification of the treaty would expose Germans to the risk of systematic human rights violations by US authorities and calls on the German parliament to refuse ratification of the deal which was negotiated without involvement of parliament, behind closed doors and without coordination with Germany's EU partners by conservative German minister of the interior Wolfgang Schäuble and social democrat minister of justice Brigitte Zypries.
According to the text of the agreement published today, Germany is to allow an unspecified number of US authorities such as law enforcement, border control and intelligence agencies to match fingerprints and DNA samples on-line with German fingerprints and DNA databases – an unprecedented move in Europe. German authorities are furthermore to be empowered to report people to the US they suspect of an involvement in terrorist activities. Currently German laws on international cooperation permit a transmission of information only to countries with an appropriate level of data protection in place.
The German Working Group on Data Retention warns Parliament not to ratify the ministers' deal for the following reasons:
Any disclosure of information to the US is aiding ensuing human rights violations of the kind mentioned above. In view of its deficient protection of fundamental rights, data transfers to the United States can only be justified in emergencies such as imminent terrorist attacs. Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung calls on the German parliament to stop the plan which threatens the safety of hundreds of thousands of people registered in German databases.
“Disproportionality, lack of precision and predictability, deficient purpose limitation, lack of safeguards, no effective access to the courts – this deal defaults on basically all of the preconditions set out by the German Constitutional Court for interferences with our basic rights”, criticises jurist Patrick Breyer from the Working Group. “After spectacular failures with a series of laws that were declared unconstitutional only recently (concerning the bugging of homes, the shooting of aeroplanes captured by terrorists, the European arrest warrant and the blanket retention of telecommunications data) our representatives should have the wisdom to put this new plan on hold voluntarily.”
It is, among others, the transfer of personal information to US authorities that has led NGOs all over Europe to call for participation in an international action day “Freedom not fear – stop the surveillance mania” on 11 October (www.freedom-not-fear.eu).
About Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung:
Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung is a German association of civil rights and privacy activists as well as regular Internet users that runs a campaign against the complete logging of all telecommunications (www.vorratsdatenspeicherung.de).
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