German Constitutional Court held hearing on data retention
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Deutsch: Das deutsche Bundesverfassungsgericht verhandelt über Vorratsdatenspe...
The German Constitutional Court held a hearing on 15 December 2009 in the largest constitutional case ever regarding the local implementation of the data retention law. The motion has been supported by over 34 000 people. The law has already been limited by the court with two earlier interim measures.
The new Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is in an awkward position, as she has joined the action against the law as a member of the opposition. But now she also needs to represent the Government in supporting the law in front of the Court.
Constitutional Court President Hans-Jürgen Papier said at the beginning of the hearing that the complaint raises fundamental questions about the relationship between freedom and security.
During the hearing the Green Party politician Volker Beck, warned of a "black day for the Magna Carta of privacy." Constanze Kurz of the EDRi-member Chaos Computer Club warned about the potential abuses of the retained data and that their combination with other data could lead to a precise overview of every movement of the citizens. The concerns were confirmed by the German Federal Data Protection Supervisor Peter Schaar who explained that the mobile phone companies retained more location data than just the network cell where the user was.
The hearing also included information from independent experts. The Dresden computer science professor Andreas Pfitzmann explained how the retention of communications data threatened and weakened significantly the democratic society.
For the constitutionality of the law spoke Christopher Moller, representative of the Federal Government in the proceedings, who, however, conceded that the legislation restricted the basic rights by the retention of telecommunication data. The government representative was questioned by the judges who were very critical to his assertions.
The Government representative was also backed by Police representatives who showed examples when the law could be useful, and the representatives of the Federal Music Industry and Association of German Publishers.
A verdict is expected from the court in two to three months.
Live coverage of the hearing (only in German, 15.12.2009)
Press release of the data retention working group (only in German,
Retention before the Federal Constitutional Court: Critical issues, serious
concerns (only in German, 15.12.2009)
Germany's largest-ever class action suit kicks off (15.12.2009)