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German Data Retention Law Ruled Unconstitutional 129

mseeger writes "The German Federal Constitutional Court has ruled the country's current data retention law unconstitutional. All stored telephone and email communication data, previously kept for six months in case it was needed by law enforcement, now must be deleted as soon as possible. The court criticized the lack of data security and insufficient restrictions for access to the data. The president of the court said continuing to retain the data would 'cause a diffusely threatening feeling of being under observation that can diminish an unprejudiced perception of one's basic rights in many areas.' While it doesn't disallow data retention in general, the imposed restriction demands a complete reworking of the law." An anonymous reader contributes the Court's press release and more information on the ruling, both in German.
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German Data Retention Law Ruled Unconstitutional

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @10:07AM (#31329228)

    Data retention without prior suspicion hasn't been ruled unconstitutional, so we've stepped onto the slippery slope and opened Pandora's box. From now on, we're only going to be haggling over how much data can be retained and what it can be used for. This is not a victory.

  • ACTA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BiggerIsBetter ( 682164 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @10:08AM (#31329246)
    I wonder if this could cause conflict with EU ACTA negotiations. I would expect data retention would be necessary for much of the copyright legislation (eg 3 strikes and similar)
  • Re:Pyrrhic victory? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @10:13AM (#31329314)

    Yes, but if you read the verdict as a set of requirements, you'd see the blueprint of a mission impossible.

    The same was true for "computer assisted voting".
    However, the requirements are so high, that they can't be fulfilled.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @10:18AM (#31329374)

    There can be only logical solution: Change the constitution.

    Anyone taking bets that this will be the solution rather than to throw the unconstitutional domestic spying out the door?

  • by trurl7 ( 663880 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @10:18AM (#31329376)

    It's dangerous to praise a decision with political ramifications - something good can be twisted into something bad on the next iteration. Still and all, the language is encouraging, and poses the rhetorical question:

    "How messed up is the US when we have to take cues on privacy laws from, of all people, the Germans?"

    As another poster pointed out about informational self-determination, the Germans are discussing the implications of privacy. US courts are still diddling over whether privacy expectation is even "constitutional".

  • Bonus!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arthurpaliden ( 939626 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @10:27AM (#31329480)
    Soon all social networking networks will be based in Germany providing new jobs and revenue.
  • Re:Bonus!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @10:44AM (#31329690)
    Huh? Social networks are all about getting and keeping as much data as they can. Privacy is their natural enemy.

    Yep. And in Germany, privacy laws apply to you even if you're not the government.

  • by Asic Eng ( 193332 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @10:47AM (#31329738)
    US courts have to base their decisions on the US constitution, having different laws the German courts their decisions must necessarily be different. While the German constitution has weaknesses which the US' doesn't have, the reverse is also true.
  • Re:Pyrrhic victory? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @11:11AM (#31330024)

    no central storage of the data under direct government control,

    But then they let the providers pay for the storage and we all know that this will lead to central storage, either through outsourcing or simply by pushing smaller companies out of the market.

  • by ffflala ( 793437 ) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @03:09PM (#31333642)

    Two important differences come into play here. First, where the rights overlap (such as freedom of expression) the German Basic Law (constitution) affirmatively establishes rights. The US Constitution only restricts the government from passing laws to abridge constitutional rights.

    Second, the German Basic Law is founded on a concept entirely absent from the US Constitution: the right to dignity. It's the first article in the German constitution, and has been described by the German Constitutional Court as the right from which all other constitutional rights emanate.

    Article 1 [Human Dignity]
    (1) Human dignity is inviolable. To respect and protect it is the duty of all state authority. (2) The German People therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human rights as the basis of every human community, of peace, and of justice in the world. (3) The following basic rights are binding on legislature, executive, and judiciary as directly valid law.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard