German Courts Limit Data Retention Law… A Little Bit

from the good-for-them dept

Data retention has been a contentious issue. Various government organizations have pushed for laws that mandate that ISPs keep log data for many months after it’s no longer needed, just in case some sort of crime was committed, and officials need to snoop on internet usage. This is one of those ideas that politicians and police love, but which tends not to be such a good idea in practice. First, it often makes it more difficult to find useful data. Second, it’s crazy expensive. Third, the data will undoubtedly be abused. Still, the EU moved forward with a data retention law a few years back — though, it appears the German courts have been trying to adjust it to deal with some of the big privacy questions. In late 2006, a German court said that, if an individual requests it, an ISP should delete his or her log files. A new ruling from a German court finds that access to these log files should be limited so that investigators only get access in response to “serious crimes.” Of course, that opens up questions about what qualifies as “serious” and also what investigators were using the log files for before? If the entire point of data retention laws was to deal with serious crimes, it’s a bit disturbing that court now needs to reinforce that point.

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Comments on “German Courts Limit Data Retention Law… A Little Bit”

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Jake says:

Mixed Feelings

I can see how this kind of information might be useful for tracking fraud, data theft and even spyware distribution. However, the very least I’d demand is that the police could only access this data with a search warrant, and that ISPs have a statutory duty to take all reasonable security measures. Perhaps the regulations for police access to bank details could be a template?

Martin says:

You need to dig deeper

Your source might be a little sparse.
This is an important step in germany, politicians tried to invent the logging for “fighting child porn” and “fighting terror”, then they tried to water that down so that every policeman may have a look if he wants to.
Now the court has told them that it’s unconstitutional. This is but a first step. Most important is, trolls like the music industry now can’t hope to get the logfiles through a civil proceeding.

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