Germany

Current Status: In March 2010, a German Court declared unconstitutional that the German mandatory data retention law was unconstitutional and ordered the deletion of the collected data. The ruling was prompted lawsuit brought on by 34,000 citizens through the initiative of AK Vorrat, the German working group against data retention. The European Commission issued an ultimatum to Germany in March 2012 to transpose the Directive. Germany is now facing a fine from the European Commission for declining to implement the DRD, but it it appears that the Directive will not be passed into law due to strong opposition.

Public Discussion: The debate about mandatory data retention continues in Germany and German legislators must eventually take a stand on a plan by the European Commission to present a revised directive on mandatory data retention. Legal analysis conducted by the German Parliament concluded that the Directive was not in compliance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and did not lead to a significant increase in successful legal investigations.

Malte Spitz, a German politician and privacy advocate who used German privacy law to force his cell phone carrier to reveal personal information they collected about him notes that private companies still attempt to gather personal data to profile customers. According to Spitz, law enforcement abused data retention powers during a large and peaceful anti-nazi demonstration in Dresden in February 2011 when local police collected phone and location data of several hundred thousand people who were in a certain part of the city at that time. He says the police have stored this information in defiance of German law.

Spitz notes that German government institutions are discovering that they don’t need to collect and store personal information, but can instead access it through private companies. He points out that the German government is not eager to modernize Germany’s data protection legislation. EDRI reports that Deutsche Telekom, a German telco, illegally used telecommunications traffic and location data to spy on roughly 60 individuals including journalists, managers, and union leaders.

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