Thursday

26th Apr 2018

EU data law hits set-back in Germany

  • Civil liberty groups say the EU data retention directive violates privacy rights (Photo: Matthew Kenwrick)

Germany’s new justice minister, Heiko Maas, wants to delay turning the EU's controversial data retention directive into German law.

His announcement, made in an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel on Sunday (5 January), comes amid legal action by the European Commission and despite the fact two leading parties in Germany's grand coalition want to go ahead.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Maas hails from the centre-left SPD party, which wants to postpone it.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) faction and its sister party, the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), want to transpose the 2006 EU law.

The directive allows governments and intelligence agencies to track the movements, meetings, phone and Internet use of every EU citizen by forcing operators to set up separate databases specifically for police access. The data is retained from anywhere between six months to two years.

Germany's constitutional court in 2010 declared the German mandatory data retention law to be in breach of the German charter.

The rejection sparked legal action by the commission, which took Berlin to EU's the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice two years later.

The EU court’s verdict is due out in the next few months.

If it backs Brussels, the commission wants to slap a penalty payment of €315,036.54 for each day after the court ruling until Germany falls into line.

Maas says the court must first deliver its verdict before any decision is made, but the CDU and CSU want to turn into national law right away.

A spokesperson at AK Vorrat, a German NGO against data retention, described the CDU/CSU stance as a tactic to outmanoeuvre the court whatever the outcome.

“This is something we are opposing because when there is a new German law made, before the court’s decision, and then the court rejects the whole directive on the European level, the German law would still be there,” the spokesperson told this website.

The CDU/CSU, he says, claim their position does not contradict the German constitutional court's 2010 decision. He says the parties want to improve upon the law in compliance to court's verdict.

But AK Vorrat says the directive is an excessive invasion into personal privacy and does not prevent terrorism or crime.

Germany’s telecom operators already collect data for billing purposes, which are then reportedly accessed by the police.

Malte Spitz, a German politician and privacy advocate, says police collected the phone and location data of several hundred thousand people during an anti-Nazi demonstration in Dresden in February 2011.

There is a chance the court may rule against the EU law.

Pro-rights groups scored a major victory against the directive in December when the court’s advocate general slammed it for violating fundamental rights.

EU judges often rule in favour of the advocate general’s non-binding opinions.

German Green MEP Jan Philip Albrecht, in a statement, following the advocate’s opinion, described it as a breakthrough for civil liberties and said Germany’s government and the commission’s support of the directive is “embarrassing."

The German debate on data retention predates the EU law.

The Bundestag had already rejected a separate German law on data retention before the EU introduced its own version. Germany’s then justice minister Brigitte Zypries was in favour.

With the Bundestag opposing the law, the justice minister is said to have pushed Brussels to propose the EU-wide legislation.

Feature

Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack

Immediately after Orban's landslide victory in April, a list of so-called 'Soros mercenaries' was published by pro-government media. Those on it - mostly human rights defenders, activists and Orban critics - are now anxious but vow to continue.

Feature

'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole

Project Safte, an international research project funded by the European Commission, has revealed a loophole in the EU firearms directive that is being exploited by criminals and possibly terrorists.

News in Brief

  1. UN expects over $4bn in pledges for Syria
  2. Commission wants more public data made available for reuse
  3. Study: Brexit will hit all European farmers
  4. European media face rise in 'verbal violence' from politicians
  5. Greenland PM to keep power despite poll slump
  6. Commissioner optimistic on FYROM name solution
  7. Italian court keeps NGO migrant rescue boat docked
  8. German Jews warned not to wear skullcap in public

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  11. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  12. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip

Latest News

  1. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  2. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  3. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs, Italian admiral says
  4. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work
  5. Time for EU to take charge of global health research agenda
  6. EU in race to set global Artificial Intelligence ethics standards
  7. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  8. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  5. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  8. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  9. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  10. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  11. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  12. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan