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After data retention ruling: Civil liberties activists call for political end to data retention Print E-mail

+++ Data retention opposed by 70% of German population +++ European Citizens' Initiative for repealing the EU directive on data retention announced +++ Legal action to be continued +++

The German Working Group on Data Retention has today announced a Europe-wide campaign to end Internet and telephone data retention. This follows the German Constitutional Court's ruling on a mass complaint made by more than 34,000 citizens. According to a newly-published poll, 69.3% of all Germans oppose data retention, making it the most strongly rejected surveillance law.[1]

"The recording of confidential contacts and movements of the entire population in the absence of any suspicion is unacceptable and must stop immediately", says Florian Altherr of the Working Group. "In starting an initiative to this end, the Federal Minister of Justice can count on the support of EU Commissioner Viviane Reding as well as of many states such as Austria, Belgium and Romania, all of which do not have data retention laws in place."

"In order to bring the massive rejection of blanket data retention home to politicians we are in the process of preparing a European Citizens' Initiative. With the signatures of one million opponents to the permanent logging of our Internet and phone use we want to pursuade the EU to repeal its data retention directive", announces data protection activist padeluun of the Working Group.

Patrick Breyer of the Group adds: "At the same time we will continue our legal fight against data retention. Today's decision proclaiming the recording of the entire population's behaviour in the absence of any suspicion compatible with our fundamental rights is unacceptable and opens the gates to a surveillance state."

The German Working Group on Data Retention is making five political demands after today's ruling:

  1. The Federal Government, the Federal Minister of Justice and Parliaments must now cooperate with other like-minded states and bodies to take steps to repeal the redundant and detrimental data retention directive.

  2. The German law on data retention, going far even beyond EU requirements and - according to the German Constitutional Court - unconstitutional, must not be re-enacted.

  3. European citizens should be given the right to file constitutional complaints directly with the European Court of Justice.

  4. The Federal Government must not agree to any further collection of information on citizens not suspected of any wrong-doing in the name of security, such as the air travellers file proposed by the EU. Mass data pools that were introduced in the past, such as the registration of Internet use by the Federal Office for Information Security or the employee information system ELENA, must be closed down.

  5. An independent review of all existing "security" measures must take place in order to systematically examine their compatibility with our fundamental rights, their effectiveness, their cost, their harmful side-effects and alternatives.

Background information:

Communications data enables the tracing of who has contacted whom via telephone, mobile phone or e-mail. In the case of mobile calls or text messages via mobile phone, the user's location is also logged. Data retention allows citizens' movements to be traced and personal and business contacts to be monitored. Information regarding the content of communications such as personal interests and individual life circumstances can also be deduced.

A study commissioned in 2008 shows that data retention is acting as a serious deterrent to the use of telephones, mobile phones, e-mail and Internet. The survey conduced by research institute Forsa found that with communications data retention in place, one in two Germans would refrain from contacting a marriage counsellor, a psychotherapist or a drug abuse counsellor by telephone, mobile phone or e-mail if they needed their help. One in thirteen people said they had refrained from using telephone, mobile phone or e-mail at least once because of data retention, which extrapolates to 6.5 mio. Germans in total.

German NGO Working Group on Data Retention (Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung) organised several protest marches against the scheme. Last year, 20.000 people protested against surveillance in Berlin.[2]

About Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung (German Working Group on Data Retention):

The Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung (AK Vorrat) is a Germany-wide organisation which campaigns against extensive surveillance in general and the blanket logging of telecommunications and other behavioural data in particular.

Homepage und contact details:

Previous press releases:

  1. Unanimous rejection of proposed telecommunications data retention (22/01/2007):

  2. Thousands of people participated in nationwide protests against data retention (07/11/2007):

  3. Constitutional complaint filed against German Telecomms Data Retention Act (31/12/2007):

  4. Historic class-action lawsuit filed against telecommunications data collection (29/02/2008):

  5. Data retention in Germany partly suspended by Constitutional Court - NGO demands resignation of Minister of Justice (19/03/2008):

  6. After ruling on data retention: activists remain confident (10/02/2009):

  7. Administrative Court: Data retention is "invalid" (16/03/2009):

  8. Civil Liberties Groups Ask EU to Repeal Data Retention Directive (01/12/2009):

More information:

  1. Our mission statement:

  2. Joint statement on data retention:

  3. Class-action law suit against data retention:

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