March 9, 2010


By Abu Bakar Munir

On 6 January 2010, under the title, "E.U Data Retention Directive: Would It Survive?, I mentioned about the Germany's biggest-ever class action challenging the Germany's law implementing the E.U Data Retention Directive. Germany's Constitutional Court, on 2 March 2010, has made its decision that the law which requires telecommunication and Internet providers to retain personal information for six months is unconstitutional. Storing or retaining the information has been regarded as "grave intrusion' to personal privacy rights and must be revised.

The Court held that section 113 of the Telecommunications Act violates the privacy of German citizens and that the lacks the controls to ensure the data is secured and properly utilized. The Court also ruled that all data stored until now must be immediately deleted and no more data may be held until the national law is revised to conform with the country's basic law.

Justice Minister Sabine Leuthesser-Schnarrenberger, one of the plaintiffs as private citizen, welcomed the decision. The Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, however, expressed disappointment with the decision of the Court and said that the government would look to draw up new law quickly. Civil rights activists who had fiercely opposed the law welcomed the ruling. Germany's federal data protection watchdog said, "The government must not only refrain from collecting data, it must also protect citizens from the excessive gathering of information and building of profiles by the private sector."

The ruling hasn't scrapped the law altogether, but has effectively suspended it until massive amendments limiting its scope have been implemented. Many plaintiffs had hope the Court would rule that storing data per se was unconstitutional and scrap the law altogether.

German NGO Working Group on Data Retention demands the resignation of the responsible Minister of Justice, social democrat Brigitte Zypries who negotiated the data retention rules.

1 comment:

  1. Salam Professor,

    I have read with similar interest on this issue as well. Coincidentally, I have stumbled upon Hunton & Williams' Blog on this as well:-

    Hope your research and lectures have been gratefully fine.