Helpless data protection
by Heiner Busch
Since the 1980s, Germany has been experiencing a spiral of legalisation regarding the methods and technical instruments of police and security services. The result is not the definition of clear norms limiting state surveillance, but rather a rhetoric of data protection law. Illusions about the effect of the Rule of Law, individualising concepts and depoliticisation have turned data protection into a legitimising accessory.
Data protection in the security sector
by Thilo Weichert
Considering the constant extension of police and secret service remits, data protection can be unexpectedly effective in the security sector. This is not only due to the decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court, but also because sensible police and security representatives have ceased to question the importance of data protection.
Proposed law on the retention of traffic data
by Mark A. Zöller
The conflict about the retention of so-called „communications traffic data“ on citizens‘ telecommunication behaviour and about the use of these data for criminal prosecution has entered the second round. On 8 November 2006, the federal justice minister published a draft proposal which, amongst other things, is supposed to implement the EU Directive of March 2006.
Draft proposal on use of undercover police methods in criminal proceedings
by Norbert Pütter
In November 2006, the federal justice ministry presented the long- awaited amendment act of the criminal procedures law, which is to reform undercover investigation methods and particularly the surveillance of telecommunications. By trying to provide a sound legal basis for secret police work, it will contribute to its extension.
Green party proposes surveillance of telecommunications law
by Norbert Pütter
The draft proposal of the Green Party of December 2006 has surprising similarities with the government’s proposal (see above), but it explicitly claims to achieve a reduction in the number of interceptions. Instead of using the current list of crimes that automatically legitimise surveillance, the Greens are proposing to rewrite it. This draft cannot be expected to achieve its proclaimed aim, either.
Extremism by association and the „right to know“
by Udo Kauß
For ten years now, Rolf Gössner, publicist, lawyer and president of the Human Rights League (Liga für Menschenrechte) has been arguing with the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (internal security service) about his right to receive information about the collection of his personal data and if this data collection was legal. The Federal Office concedes that Gössner was not a „left-wing extremist“. However, in its 36 years of observation, it has nevertheless collected a lot of data on him and it refuses to disclose the really interesting data to him.
EU framework decision on data protection
by Tony Bunyan
The EU is currently working on a framework decision to regulate data protection in police and judicial cooperation. However, because the discussion is taking place in a climate that is determined by the „war on terror“, citizens‘ rights are again subordinated to the wishes of criminal prosecution. The proposal aims to do away with any obstacles to the mutual access to Member States‘ police data (principle of availability) or the data exchange between the EU and its befriended authorities in countries such as the US.
Common databases for police and secret services
by Heiner Busch
Seventeen years after the separation of the state security division of the Federal Crime Police Authority (Bundeskriminalamt – BKA) from the intelligence information system of the German internal secret service (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz – BfV), the parliament has decided to reunite the police with the secret service at the information technology level. The law, passed on 1 December 2006, establishes an „anti-terror“ database, to be accessed by secret services, the BKA and other police stations. Further, police and secret services will work closely together in analysis projects, using so-called working data.
Police and secret service against immigrants
by Mark Holzberger
In the fight against unlawful immigration, or rather, foreign „terrorist suspects“, police and security services have been working together closely for some time now. At the regional and national level, working groups are explicitly using the deportation and surveillance powers they were given by the new immigration law. In May 2006, the interior ministry has created yet another tool in the fight against immigrants, the common analysis and strategy centre on illegal migration (Gemeinsames Analyse- und Strategiezentrum illegale Migration – GASIM).
Anti-Terrorism Amendment Act
by Heiner Busch
The security authorities will continue to be able to demand information from banks, airlines and telecommunication providers. On 1 December 2006, the Lower House of German parliament renewed the powers it had given the services five years ago.
Bremen’s police methods
by Helmut Pollähne
At a police action during the street party „Schanzenstraßenfest“ in Hamburg on 9 September 2006, a police unit from Bremen achieved claim to fame by not only shackling the arrested demonstrators but also „disorientating“ them, forcing them to wear shaded glasses until their transportation to detention.