Wednesday, April 9, 2014


One of those terrible German words meaning nothing else than data retention. With the NSA active all over the world everybody knows what data retention means. However, here I am referring to the European Union.

In 2009 Brussels passed the EU Directive 2006/24/EC that obliged its 28 member states to introduce a system of data retention. Many countries already had national laws concerning the storage of telephone and Internet data for the prevention of (organized) crimes and terrorism. Hence the EU Directive was rather thought to harmonize national legislation in view of the duration of retention and an easy exchange of data.

Germany was a special case in so far as in 2010 the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Court) had declared our national law on data retention as unconstitutional. The old Black-Yellow coalition was unable to consent on new legislation. So this became a task for the new Black-Red coalition in place following our general election in fall last year. While the CDU-Innenminister (secretary of interior) wanted to jump on the project right away, the SPD-Justizminister (secretary of justice) put the brakes on. He proposed to wait until the European Court of Justice had decided about the lawsuit of Irish civil rights activists and the Carinthian government (Austria) against Directive 2006/24/EC. The Court's verdict came on April 8, 2014: The present Directive violates basic civil rights and therefore is null and void.

Was our minister of justice right to postpone new German legislation on data retention?

No, says the minister of interior, for the Court decision does not concern existing national laws and Germany needs new legislation immediately, a law that must be wise, constitutional, and have a majority appeal.

Yes, answers the minister of justice, we are not in a hurry. Now we know what our Federal and the European Court might accept such that we likely are to get our new national legislation conform to their decisions.


The new one billion Euro building complex of Germany's Bundesnachrichtendienst
 (BND, I call it Mini-NSA) in Berlin (©dapd)

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