Class-action law suit against data retention

On 9 November 2007, the Bundestag passed the bill by the majority of votes of the big coalition to implement data retention into German law.

A constitutional complaint directed against the law and initiated by the German privacy group Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung (Working group on data retention) was filed with the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany on 31 December 2007. The blanket storage of communications data violates the secrecy of telecommunications and the human right of informational self-determination. More information on the complaint can be found in our press release.

On 2 March 2010, the Federal Constitutional Court announced its decision. For more information on the decision, please refer to:

More Information

Our press releases:

Federal Constitutional Court press releases:


Questions and Answers

What exactly is data retention?

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

What exactly is the contents of the constitutional complaint?

The complaint is available here (in German only). 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).

Where can I find a public list of all complainants?

You can find a public list of complainants here (anonymised).

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 file 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. "As a matter of precaution, [German minister of justice] Ms. Zypries wants to have information about our phone calls, movements, and Internet usage collected - just in case 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 just as many people will fight this in Karlsruhe."

What media reports covering the constitutional complaint are there?