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German Court Says Data Retention Rules Are Illegal

from the privacy-trumps dept

Around the world, law enforcement has pushed for stronger data retention rules for years, despite little evidence that it actually helps stop crimes (in fact, there's evidence that it helps to obscure important data by burying the data in tons of more data). Yet, since law enforcement and the media can team up to create moral panics, politicians usually end up passing such laws. However, over in Germany, the highest German court has ruled that the data retention law passed in 2008 is illegal, saying that "the law's erosion of personal privacy outweighed its usefulness in combating terrorism." Furthermore, the court has ordered that data retained under the law should be destroyed immediately. The court noted that the German law went well beyond EU requirements and potentially harmed the rights of German citizens by having them feel like they're under constant observation:
The storage of data could "cause a diffusely threatening feeling of being under observation that can diminish an unprejudiced perception of one's basic rights in many areas,"

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2010 @ 5:49pm

    More evidence of the eventual public victory over corporate and government tyranny. Still, we have a LONG ways to go and things won't get fixed for a LONG time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    wasn't me man, 2 Mar 2010 @ 6:38pm

    HE went THATA way

    and ya know that court is right. When you feel that way you will get more irritable and they know that this is pushing to far and see that if they dont stop this stupidity that serious consequences are going to start.

    try it ...sleep on your front porch all summer.
    shower with a camera , have no privacy anywhere.

    go ahead i dare you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Hephaestus (profile), 2 Mar 2010 @ 6:56pm

      Re: HE went THATA way

      "try it ...sleep on your front porch all summer.
      shower with a camera , have no privacy anywhere."

      There are web sites that specialize in that actually

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cathy, 2 Mar 2010 @ 6:48pm

    Religion registration

    When I lived in Germany in 2005 I had to register with the town and *tell them my religion*. Ostensibly this was to figure out how to tax the local churches (based on how much of the population was using them) but it made me really uncomfortable, as someone Jewish, telling the German government that. What were my data protection rights there?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2010 @ 7:01pm

      Re: Religion registration

      can't they just tax the churches based on income instead? Wouldn't that make more sense? Then again, who am I to expect governments to make any sense?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2010 @ 8:18pm

      Re: Religion registration

      In Germany, were people allowed to claim they were a Jedi Knight?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedi_census_phenomenon

      or possibly a Pastafarian?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      jd, 3 Mar 2010 @ 1:51am

      Re: Religion registration

      They do this to distribute the taxes TO the churches. Each working citizen who claims a religion pays a church tax (mandatory, federally enforced tithing). That money is then distributed based on the number of people registered to each religious group. It is possible to register with no specific religion so that one does not have to pay that tax.

      That being said, I would still feel weird registering as Jewish. I get kinda nervous because I don't register as Catholic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2010 @ 5:05am

        Re: Re: Religion registration

        No way.
        Mandatory tithing ... whoa
        That's messed up

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        gh, 2 Apr 2010 @ 8:00am

        Re: Re: Religion registration

        But only a handful of religious organizations in Germany prefer the government to collect their tithing by payroll taxes. It's namely the Catholic Church, the Jewish Council and the Protestant Church.

        Most smaller religious groups (like all Evangelical churches and the Latter-Day Saints) collect their tithing independently from the government by asking their members to pay their share.

        In Germany a church has to register with the state government and be officially recognized a so called Entity of Public Law in order to collect money through payroll taxes and be able to teach their religion in public schools. Most churches won't do this. Though the Latter Day-Saints are for example registered in the state of Hesse. But they do not collect any taxes.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    OldGeek, 2 Mar 2010 @ 7:10pm

    Perfect

    "there's evidence that it helps to obscure important data by burying the data in tons of more data", precisely why we have such data retention laws. It's almost impossible to find what your looking for, just what the politicians want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 3 Mar 2010 @ 1:10am

    Privacy

    Contrary to what Google would like our politicians to believe, we expect privacy. Even using the intertubes.

    Nice to see a sensible ruling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    techflaws.org (profile), 3 Mar 2010 @ 4:19am

    Don't be too happy

    The german high court only said that the law in it's current form is unconstituional (basically telling politians what sloppy job they've done yet again crafting legislation) but that collecting data on all communications generally is allowed! Only the access to it will be restricted.

    So all politicians have to do is to come up with a less broad law citing certain felonys it applies to (like terrorism) and the surveillance technology can remain in place. To top it all off the court also hinted at the idea that giving rights holders access to IP adresses to start civil lawsuits against alleged filesharers would be ok.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), 3 Mar 2010 @ 5:57am

    Dutch situation

    I wish the Dutch government would listen to this as well.

    Currently, the proposed data retention law in NL state a term of 12 months (initially it was 18 months, the minimum stated by the EU was 6 months), and for the new public transit card they are actually keeping data for a whopping 7 years!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 3 Mar 2010 @ 10:47am

    "and potentially harmed the rights of German citizens by having them feel like they're under constant observation"

    Man I wish more nations cared about this!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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