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German Data Retention Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the raise-a-stein dept.

Privacy 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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A Nigger Cock (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31329162)

in the mouths of everyone who ever voted in favor of this bad law. Nigger cock in they mouth, nigger cock down they throat.

Great Precedent (5, Insightful)

wintercolby (1117427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329204)

Now only if the rest of The West would follow suit.

Re:Great Precedent (3, Informative)

ahaubold (1705608) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329512)

At least the new EU commisioner for justice Viviane Reding announced an enquiry of the EU Directive which was one of the main reasons for making that law in the first place.

Re:Great Precedent (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329964)

Great news from our big neighbors.

If only our mainstream media would pick it up, then someone would actually know about this.

The Free World or the Corporate World (2)

The Abused Developer (1730734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330022)

See, the difference is that in Germany the people own their society and their politicians are accountable to the people. In North America, it is the opposite - the Corporate owns the politicians and the society, the people are just a mass of slaves.

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (2, Funny)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330060)

Maybe a few years of a fascist government supporting global total war and orchestrated genocide would give the US people a renewed taste for personal liberties.

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (1)

anwaya (574190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330620)

It's been tried: we got Glenn Beck and Rahm Emmanuel for our pains.

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331918)

This guy really appears to be crazy. Mussolini had a newspaper. Glenn Beck has TV.

I assume he is nothing but a person to astroturf a hate movement to avoid public riots, outcry and irrational actions against the bankers and economical leaders in the aftermath of severe economical turmoil, job loss and so forth. In 1929 it was the jews from next door which took the blame and we witnessed the sudden rise of the nazi movement to contain the communists. Beck explicitly appeals to anti-bank tin foils and turns their message around. There must be a good reason why he is funded to say what he says on American Television.

In times of crisis capitalism funds extremists, not moderates, and targets the low income percentile, and it needs a scape goat.

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330770)

thought you had that already... must have been hidden behind some bush ;)

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31331588)

We tried that - next time we should try one with a decent moustache.

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330100)

Not really. For example, the Mövenpick corporation owns the Free Democratic Party. [earthtimes.org]

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (1)

The Abused Developer (1730734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330256)

It's such a fine line between being *well intended* and *purportedly well intended*. The article is about how the system-in-place burned the politicians who where owned by the *Corporate*. Of course that this type of thing is going to happen everywhere and any time but the big question is does the *people/society* have the functional mechanism in place to defend its freedom? This article proves the Germans have it - and USA doesn't. " To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle. " (George Orwell)

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330378)

"Burned" is not the right word for it.
FDP was made fun of for about a month but not much else happened as a consequence.

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330986)

There are new elections in 2 months. Let's see how much the FDP suffers.

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (1)

The Abused Developer (1730734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331124)

On the political capital market in Germany - this is burning; it is hard to get it looking at it from inside of the US boundaries and social habits. Germans are socialist by nature - well, with a little bit of an extreme even today:-), they will let you down as politician is you show extreme preference for the money focus in your message vs the social focus message.

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331194)

I am from Germany (not originally but for the last 16 years).

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332022)

But that is not socialism in most parts of the world. That is the unique American reality distortion together with paranoia towards socialism. So we made our negative experiences with socialism and know what we oppose. But American anti-socialism is mostly ideological without any experience.

I mean, no one seriously opposes health care insurance. That is just a crazy mind reform in the States which makes the scum defend the economical interests of the upper percentile.

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (1)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330506)

Although I sympathize with your view on the role of corporations in politics. In this specific case it is all about independent and reasonable judges. Also something to cherish.

Re:The Free World or the Corporate World (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332530)

the people are just a mass of slaves.

Speak for yourself.

Re:Great Precedent (4, Informative)

V for Vendetta (1204898) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330710)

To be honest, we weren't the first ones. The Constitutinal Courts of Romania and Bulgaria (not sure of the second country) already ruled the EU data retention law unconstitutional.

Re:Great Precedent (4, Insightful)

The Abused Developer (1730734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331180)

Because Romanians went trough the most atrocious dictator of the end of the century right in the middle of Europe - and they had to pay with thousands of lives and lots of blood for their freedom - the sad true is that only after experiencing on yourself slavery you learn to value the freedom.

Pyrrhic victory? (4, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329220)

Unfortunately, the explanations given by the Federal Constitutional Court can be read as an instruction manual on how to create a data retention law 2.0 that will pass the courts muster. Shouldn't take those politicians too long to come up with the new version. :/

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (4, Informative)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329352)

Well, at least they demand some serious restrictions - asymmetric encryption with separately stored keys, no central storage of the data under direct government control, no access without a judge's order, no access without a well-founded and substantiated suspicion, access only for prosecution of serious crimes (exceptions for simple lookup of dynamic IPs), severe penalties for illegitime access. This is way better than what we had before.

That aside, thank the FSM for our constitutional court. They basically struck down every security-theatre related law in the last couple of years. I am starting to think about a three-strikes law for politicians - vote for three unconstitutional laws and you are out. Loss of eligibility for any political office for 4 years at last. Ahh, well, a man can dream...

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329686)

I am starting to think about a three-strikes law for politicians - vote for three unconstitutional laws and you are out. Loss of eligibility for any political office for 4 years at last.

In light of the usual way this is implemented, your solution wouldn't be fair, though. It would be better to enact your proposed restrictions when a politician was accused of not handling in the voter's best interest by any citizen three times.

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (3, Funny)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329840)

It would be better to enact your proposed restrictions when a politician was accused of not handling in the voter's best interest by any citizen three times.

Sounds great! We'll need to ask all of the citizens if their interests have been taken care of well or not. Since what I consider taking care of me might be the opposite of what taken care of is for you, we'll need to go by majority. Also, since we can't spend the time and money to ask every day, how about ever 2-4 years we get together and vote on how well our politicians are doing? I wish there was a political system that did that!

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (2, Funny)

am 2k (217885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330010)

Your idea sounds nice in theory, but I've heard that it has been tried and didn't work out that well (as described in the article these postings are attached to for instance).

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331962)

It would be better to enact your proposed restrictions when a politician was accused of not handling in the voter's best interest by any citizen three times.

There's already a formal method in place for voters to make it clear that a politician is not handling their best interests appropriately. It's called "voting".

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (2, Insightful)

oreaq (817314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330126)

Better yet: Introduce fines and prison sentences for violating the constitution and indict politicians that vote for laws that break the constitution. Wehrhafte Demokratie FTW!

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330186)

Hehe, indeed. Been saying for a long time that the Verfassungsschutz should at least monitor certain politicians that keep proposing unconstitutional laws. And I am not talking about out fringe parties here...

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (2, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330234)

Been saying for a long time that the Verfassungsschutz should at least monitor certain politicians that keep proposing unconstitutional laws.

They tried, but the wheelchair outran them.

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332124)

Maybe we need a web site to record all unconstitutional laws and demand sanctions against the ministerial officials.

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1)

NervousWreck (1399445) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331724)

Then the buying of politicians would be supplanted by the buying of judges for the purpose of getting rid of both laws and people they don't like.

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1)

Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332652)

That aside, thank the FSM for our constitutional court.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster -- is there anything that he cannot do?

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (2, Informative)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329362)

One of the restrictions the Federal Constitutional Court has imposed is that such data may only be saved decentralized. Additionally they have to be stored securely and must only be used for very severe crimes. The court is very careful: Technical possibilities change very quickly and they want the verdict to be still useful in 10 or 20 years. That's why they avoid saying "such data cannot be stored securely, therefore data retention is for all times unconstitutional".

In another verdict the court has ruled that e-voting is not principally unconstitutional. However, it imposed rules that no e-voting system in the near future is able to fulfill: Every citizen must be able to verify the correctness of the vote without specific technical knowledge. Not even open source e-voting systems meet this requirement.

I doubt that a new data retention law will be passed any time soon. Most parties have realized by now that data retention sucks and I don't think they can pull together a majority for this.

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330132)

On the other hand, there's an EU directive which demands that a data retention law gets passed.

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330230)

The people who have challenged the german law are going after the EU directive next, as far as I know. Will be interesting to see what comes out of that. Apart from that, EU directives have to be implemented in national law, and that implementation has to work within the framework set down in the ruling at issue. The Constitutional Court has made it pretty clear that it has the last word in such matters, even if the EU is involved.

Re:Pyrrhic victory? (1)

V for Vendetta (1204898) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330794)

But than again I can't remember the last time that the BVerG (Bundesverfassungsgericht = Federal Consitutional Court) ruled a law straight as "unconstitutional" and demanded all records to be removed immediately. Most of the time it grants a grace period in which the parlament needs to come up with a revised version of the law. This isn't the case this time. The law was basically ruled as "null and void/has never existed". So they can't just "adjust" the current law to meet the court's requirements. They need to formulate and pass a complete new law.

A great victory (5, Informative)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329226)

In my story submission [slashdot.org] , I included a few more details. 35,000 citizens filed a class-action against this law and now after two years we finally see this law voided.

The "Bundesverfassungsgericht [wikipedia.org] " has once again proven that is the most significant institution in Germany that protects citizens' constitutional rights - in this case the right of informational self-determination [wikipedia.org] .

problematic politics (Re:A great victory) (1)

beh (4759) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329892)

I do not have first hand experience of many other countries, but this is just a stepping stone for the government - it will not deter the government from continuing in the same direction. In the last decade or so, it has been my distinct impression that there has been rise of cases where the German government first pushes through some (partially harsh) legislation, only to have it challenged at the Bundesverfassungsgericht and just continuing on with however much the judges let them get away with.

All this leads to is the politicians just putting the burden of finding out what the maximum restrictive law can be to the judges of the highest court.

No attempt is made at trying to find workable laws, but instead they try and overreach 'in the name' of terrorism or child porn in trying to control what people can do.

I laud the judges for their rebuke of the law, but I also mourn that our politicians still aren't considering educating themselves of what is possible, what is useful, what is sensible; or trying to find other ways of mitigating problems rather than just following the first impulse of prohibiting whatever the problem is perceived to be.

Germany, to me, is not that far off needing to take some guidance from a recent TED talk: 4 ways to fix a broken legal system:

http://www.ted.com/talks/philip_howard.html [ted.com]

Re:problematic politics (Re:A great victory) (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330138)

I think our legal system works pretty well, as demonstrated by this ruling. However, we have a problem with political culture. It is as you described. Our politicians seem more and more prone to implement draconic laws only to have them struck down by the court. It seems as if they either willfuly neglect to check for conformity with the constitution before implementing a law, simply don't care for it, or are too inept. I think we can rule out the last one, as the checks would be done by legal professionals in the ministries, so they probably stopped caring. That is a disturbing development.

Re:problematic politics (Re:A great victory) (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330166)

I think we can rule out the last one, as the checks would be done by legal professionals in the ministries,

Many of those politicians are legal professionals themselves. If they ever claim ineptitude in this matter, I want to see their degrees in Law revoked and their diplomas recycled into toilet paper.

Re:problematic politics (Re:A great victory) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330510)

Ewww... I'm afraid that toilet paper'd give you a rash...

Re:problematic politics (Re:A great victory) (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330568)

Ewww... I'm afraid that toilet paper'd give you a rash...

Rashes are temporary, but justice is forever.

Pandora's box is open (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

A smart ruling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31329234)

If only the US court system was this intelligent!

ACTA (4, Interesting)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:ACTA (1)

janwedekind (778872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329804)

I am not sure whether ACTA plays into this but a quick look at the court's press release indicates that they had to do quite a bit of work to prevent legal intimidation by the European Union:

The regulations under scrutiny are to be understood as an implementation of the European Parliament's and Commission's directive 2006/24/EG about data retention from the year 2006.

Die angegriffenen Vorschriften verstehen sich als Umsetzung der Richtlinie 2006/24/EG des Europäischen Parlaments und des Rates über die Vorratsdatenspeicherung aus dem Jahre 2006. (The regulations under scrutiny are to be understood as an implementation of the European Parliament's and Commission's directive 2006/24/EG about data retention from the year 2006.)

Furthermore they state that the German data retention act goes way beyond what would have been required by the European Commission and that there is no need to involve the European Court at this point.

Re:ACTA (4, Informative)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329872)

Well the German law was already an implementation of a EU directive. However while the constitutional court has rejected the implementation, it did not declare the EU directive illegal. So it's still possible (actually mandatory under EU law) to implement a revised data storage law.

Re:ACTA (1)

kylant (527449) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331198)

The German constitutional court is in no position to declare an EU directive illegal or even unconstitutional as, in general, EU law is stronger than national constitutional law. (Actually there are very special circumstances, under which something like that could happen (a simple violation of the German constitution won't do) but that is rather theoretical construct and nobody feels like trying whether this holds up).

The next step would be to challenge the EU directive itself, but that is a lot more difficult as the implementation of human rights is much weaker at the European level than it is in Germany (or in any other European nation)

Re:ACTA (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331746)

As I see it, the German constitutional court (BVerfG - we love our abbreviations in the legal business) still reserves the right to rule on the applicability of EU law in cases where no equivalent legal protection is provided by EU institutions (BVerfG, "Solange II" i.V.m BVerfG "Lissabon"). As you said, though, it remains to be seen whether this holds up.

Re:ACTA (1)

kylant (527449) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332350)

In most European countries constitutional courts argue, that there is a "core" to the respective constitution that is not and cannot be overruled by European legislation but only by plebiscite. I am not aware of any European level ruling or contract that would support this position, though. Constitutional courts appear not to be too keen on actually using this approach, probably because if it fails they are not the top dogs anymore. (I really try hard to keep the legalese out of slashdot comments)

Re:ACTA (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332232)

Yes, but there are infringement proceedings against some member states because they don't apply the directive, there are other constitutional courts which rejected it, so a simple recast of the directive is required by the Commission anyway because the directive is wrecked [europa.eu] .

ACTA certainly deserves more attention but there are other FTA with such provisions as well.

SETI (0, Offtopic)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329260)

Hey, maybe SETI can use this to finally find those little green men they're after. "We made a guge breakthrough today when we partially reconstructed a piece of alien porn from some noise near Centauri!"

oops (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329316)

Posted this in the wrong place. But, yeah, good for you Germany!

Re:oops (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329518)

Well, the aliens will come and sue SETI for data retention and analysis without a court order. :-)

Re:oops (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329610)

Well, the aliens will come and sue SETI for data retention and analysis without a court order. :-)

They'd get counter-sued by the MPAA and James Cameron for stealing his ideas. Better stay at least a light year from Earth.

No you're right! Beware! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31329680)

Posted this in the wrong place. But, yeah, good for you Germany!

No, you didn't. The little green men were using Germany's lax data retention laws to track people down for their brain scanning.

Your perceived mistake was implanted in your head in an attempt to keep you from posting the truth. Fortunately for us, they were a little slow and you posted just in time to warn us.

Beware! They may be doing more things to your brain as you read this!

of course they don't need retention (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31329278)

Once your corpse has been put in the oven and burnt to ash who cares who were?

All hail the Chaos Computer Club (5, Informative)

Denial93 (773403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329284)

Although this ruling is what us IT guys would expect from any reasonable court, the fact of the matter is that judges know shit. The Chaos Computer Club [www.ccc.de] worked their asses off providing expertise to the court, while also mobilizing the German IT scene and putting out pressure on opposing (governmental) parties. This is their success and I salute them. Guess I should get around to finally apply for membership myself...

Re:All hail the Chaos Computer Club (4, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329396)

The court is not supposed to know shit. The judges are supposed to listen to experts and form their opinion based upon that - and from reading the decision, I would say they indeed did. Everything working as intended. That aside, all hail the CCC!

Re:All hail the Chaos Computer Club (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329904)

So the real problem is: Who is deciding who is an expert and who not?

I mean just think of the case of the media industry.
Freakin’ hard to be a judge, if you ask me.

Is there some mechanism to choose experts?
The only one I know is the trust mechanism. Which has a whole area of criminal science dedicated to it, called “social engineering”, and more holes than the Internet Explorer.
So what else?

Re:All hail the Chaos Computer Club (2, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329956)

So the real problem is: Who is deciding who is an expert and who not?

Just recursify the problem: Ask an expert.

Re:All hail the Chaos Computer Club (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330050)

You certainly got a point there, and I don't think there is the one, perfect method to choosing experts - That's why you don't listen to just one of them, but rather to a couple, so you get a view of differing opinions in the field. Or both sides bring in "their" experts - which of course will be pre-selected to emphasize on the position of each side. I guess there is no way to absolutely rule out bias in the information presented to the judges, but in practise, the system mostly works. As you said, freakin' hard to be a judge. I have great respect for the judges of the BVerfG, they seem to manage pretty well to reach informed, reasonable judgements.

Re:All hail the Chaos Computer Club (2, Informative)

TiloB (783192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332098)

The court is not supposed to know shit

I think you are arguing from the perspective of Common law which does not apply in Germany. Here, judges and courts in general have much more freedom in discovering the truth during trials, they may ask questions, they may ask for more information. And we are happy they do so.

Re:All hail the Chaos Computer Club (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332318)

Actually no, I might have been unclear. What I was trying to say is that you do not expect the judges to be expert on the subject-matter at hand, you expect them rather to gather the necessary information during trial. I was not aiming at rules of discovery there. I am definitely not coming from a common law perspective - I am German myself and work in the field of patent law (where you actually can expect the judges to be experts, at least the technical judges at the patent court. But that is just a weirdness of the system and off-topic anyway).

Re:All hail the Chaos Computer Club (4, Insightful)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329476)

Don't say they know shit. They knew enough to know that their expertise didn't suffice and that's why they invited specialists (including the CCC which of course loved to help). They've carefully heard this case for two years and now they've come to an excellent decision.
The Federal Constitutional Court did exactly the right thing, that's what is important. It's not their job to know everything about computers and technical measures of data retention. Remember the /. story of a judge who didn't know what the Internet was and had it explained to him before he judged? You don't have to know everything, you just have to know when you should educate yourself.

Re:All hail the Chaos Computer Club (2, Informative)

chrismeidinger (1469419) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329724)

You don't have to apply for membership in CCC. Just join.
If you come to the Congress - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_Communication_Congress [wikipedia.org] - you can join right at the door, and get your ticket discounted immediately.

Domestic spying unconstitutional? (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

Re:Domestic spying unconstitutional? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31329492)

IMHO it would be difficult, since the ruling is based on the concept of "informational self-determination", which the constitutional court established based on specially protected fundamental rights in the German constitution. Plus, it is quite unlikely that they would find the necessary support for a change of the constitution in the parliament. Several parties are against the law (at least in current form), including the Liberal party (FDP) which is the junior partner in the coalition government right now. In fact, the current minister for justice (FDP) was one of the persons suing against the law at the constitutional court (the law was passed by the previous government).

Re:Domestic spying unconstitutional? (1)

cpghost (719344) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330806)

All you say is true, and I don't see a change of constitution happening anytime soon in the current political microclimate. However, Germany also has the reputation for constantly eroding their own Grundgesetz over the decades. I wouldn't hold my breath that they won't amend one of their articles with a classic: "Das Nähere regelt ein Bundesgesetz" as with so many other fundamental rights being restricted per lower-order laws or even administrative decrees. Oh, btw, what about "Eine Zensur findet nicht statt."? That's not even restricted, but the "Zensursula" law has still just been signed by the President and therefore legally in effect (though not enforced by the current administration).

Re:Domestic spying unconstitutional? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331612)

IMHO it would be difficult, since the ruling is based on the concept of "informational self-determination", which the constitutional court established based on specially protected fundamental rights in the German constitution.

If it's one of fundamental human rights, then AFAIR it's in the section of the Basic Law that is immutable and cannot be amended in any way?

Unenviable comparison (5, Interesting)

trurl7 (663880) | more than 4 years ago | (#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".

Re:Unenviable comparison (4, Insightful)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329552)

> of all people, the Germans

What do you mean? Germany is one of the best countries in terms of privacy protection.

Re:Unenviable comparison (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329580)

What do you mean? Germany is one of the best countries in terms of privacy protection.

Now. Part of it wasn't, until about twenty years ago. None of it was, about seventy years ago.

Then again, Romania, of all countries, had a very interesting decision upholding the peoples right to privacy lately. Who'd have thunk?

Re:Unenviable comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31329668)

None of it was, about seventy years ago.

I do believe you just Godwin'ed yourself into irrelevance. Face it, you don't know shit about modern Germany.

If you want to dig back a few decades, you can find horrendous things about any country, especially the US.

Re:Unenviable comparison (2, Insightful)

trurl7 (663880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329710)

To find bad shit in the US you can just look at now, why bother going back :)

Re:Unenviable comparison (0, Troll)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329820)

I do believe you just Godwin'ed yourself into irrelevance.

Then you probably also believe the sky is yellow?

Face it, you don't know shit about modern Germany.

I wasn't talking about modern Germany. What part of "seventy years ago" do I need to explain to you? Or do you need a quick lecture about modern Germany? I've lived there since I was born, stupid.

Re:Unenviable comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31329760)

Now. Part of it wasn't, until about twenty years ago. None of it was, about seventy years ago.

True. But I think this history of two totalitarian regimes in the 20th century is part of the reason why there is quite some sensitivity about privacy issues in Germany. There is a lot of experience why privacy is important, especially for "of all people, the Germans". :)

Re:Unenviable comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330182)

I'll tell you why, because they know how bad it can get, during the communist era you couldn't speak about anything in public without fear of being turned in by some one, and phone tapping was something pretty normal, they know how it was, and don't want to go there again. Americans on the other hand ...

Re:Unenviable comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330556)

Why is this surprising? Eastern European countries remember very well why privacy is important. It's America and Western Europe who seem to have forgotten.

Re:Unenviable comparison (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31331192)

Then again, Romania, of all countries, had a very interesting decision upholding the peoples right to privacy lately. Who'd have thunk?

I think the series of unbelievable miracles started when the US - of all countries - elected a black president!

Re:Unenviable comparison (2, Interesting)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Unenviable comparison (5, Informative)

Hasai (131313) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329814)

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

Actually, the Germans, "of all people," have the advantage of knowing precisely just how bad things can get.

Re:Unenviable comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330084)

Germany is moving forward. The US political system has the democrats wanting to move forward and the republicans block EVERYTHING on principle. So, to answer the question, the US is very messed up and has been that way for a long time.

Re:Unenviable comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330664)

Actually, they both are flip sides of the coin.

The Democrats claim they want to move forward, but in truth they want to move the governement forward so that they can control you in the ways THEY want to control you. Little different than the current crop of Republicans, really- save for the rhetoric.

Pay little heed to what they say, look at what they do. And things are no different now than they were when Bush and the Republicans were in charge.

Gitmo's still in business.
We still have troops over there in Iraq. ...and the list goes on and on.

And the "healthcare reform" that got blocked was a sham- that "public option" isn't going to be like the other countries that have socialized medicine have. Come back when they can get the public option the elderly and disabled already have actually works like it's supposed to- and don't go blaming the insurance companies. The insurance industry's greedy, yes- but they pay out only about 20% over Medicare's payouts on most things. There's a hint for you on that one. Reform comes from doing more than those jokers were talking to- ALL of them, not just one party or the other.

In the end, we got change, allright- just a party, though.

Until we can get past Democrat/Republican and people stupidly voting (and talking...) party lines, we're going to keep getting the government we desperately deserve here because they're not in there for US, the people- and haven't been for a while now.

Re:Unenviable comparison (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330542)

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

Yeah, because we are exactly like our great-grandparents.
And we did not completely flip to the other side of left extremism and shame for our nation in general, or started to care more about privacy.

</sarcasm> (or is that cynism?)

Wish List (1)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329390)

Cool! I wish the US could get a constitution like that.

Re:Wish List (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330114)

You know what is ironic? This constitution came into existence, because the US and their British and French allies issued an order in July 1948 to get one written.

So the German people elected 65 members of a parliament board. These 65 (only four women among them) drafted what became the equivalent of the German constitution.

That's a terrific quote (5, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329444)

"...a diffusely threatening feeling of being under observation... can diminish an unprejudiced perception of one's basic rights in many areas."

^^ This.

Someone gets it.

Re:That's a terrific quote (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329478)

Someone gets it.

Scary how good that sounds even after being translated, isn't it?

Bonus!!! (2, Interesting)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329480)

Soon all social networking networks will be based in Germany providing new jobs and revenue.

Re:Bonus!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31329602)

Huh? Social networks are all about getting and keeping as much data as they can. Privacy is their natural enemy.

Re:Bonus!!! (3, Interesting)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

I don't see what the big deal is (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31329694)

So what if the German government had access to user data.

It's not as if the Germans are known resorting to Gestapo tactics or anything.

yomaty (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31329806)

The court is not supposed to know shit. The judges are supposed to listen to experts and form their opinion based upon that - and from reading the decision, I would say they indeed did. Everything working as intended. That aside, all hail the CCC!

i think this good opinion in my seen

http://www.yomaty.co.cc

Lame. (1, Informative)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330018)

All this means is that the standard for corporations and government are even farther apart.

Sure it protects personal privacy, but this protects corporations from lawsuits, and their bottom line even more.

I was having a conversation with a consultant on Risk/Threat assessment of an IMS project we are working on. The difference in retention is amazing. Because I work in government, we are expected to keep stuff around for YEARS, usually 5 to 7 locally, and then maybe decades in an archive. This is for transparency, and to keep records of exactly of what was done, when, by whom. We get sued, and this material gets dredged up and used against us in court. However in the private sector, the retention is measured in Days, usually 5 to 7, and then Deleted/Destroyed. This is for liability, so people cannot use this information against them in court.

So next time you are thinking of making fun about how much waste is in government, or how much more it costs, or how much longer it takes to develop in government, understand this is but ONE of many differences of extra things we HAVE to do by LAW for ALL of our systems, and the reason behind it is accountability. Government is accountable for their actions and people have a right to know about it. Corporations have to be accountable to their shareholders in that they must produce as much profit in the least time possible. The two are radically different enviroments and so it should be no surprise that the procedures used to do anything are vastly different also.

That said, there is waste in government, just like there is in corporations. Much of ours seems to be based on past actions being penalized. Basically some arm of the government many years ago, will have done something bad. Rather than punish directly those involved, they punish everyone else by subjecting them to policies that will supposedly "prevent this from happening in the future". Thus we end up with standards about how many foundation documents above and beyond reason, and when looking for vendors, you have to go through a long process, etc... And while it might prevent people from wasting money, it generally makes the project twice as long and twice as expensive, which essentially means you are sort of wasting money and time anyway, and limits the kinds of projects you can do, as some are just too expensive now.

Anyway that is my government/corporate rant including retention.... Vent!

Ahhhh...Germany... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330574)

Where the government makes it easier to be a criminal.

Can we borrow that court (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331404)

Ours sucks!
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