Spiegel reports on an important court ruling concerning privacy in Germany.
Germany’s highest court on Tuesday overturned a law allowing authorities to retain data on telephone calls and e-mail traffic to help fight terrorism and crime. The Federal Constitution Court ruled that major changes needed to be made to a 2008 law ordering data on calls made from mobile or fixed-line telephones and e-mail traffic to be kept for six months for possible access by law enforcement agencies.
The judges said the data storage was not secure enough and that it was not sufficiently clear what it would be used for. A record number of almost 35,000 people, including current Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, had originally brought the case to the court. The law stems from a European Union directive.
The court said all data stored to date must be deleted immediately. It said the law went far beyond the requirements of the EU directive. The storage of data could “cause a diffusely threatening feeling of being under observation that can diminish an unprejudiced perception of one’s basic rights in many areas,” said the president of the court, Hans-Jürgen Papier. […]
The ruling hasn’t scrapped the law altogether, but has effectively suspended it until massive amendments limiting its scope have been implemented.