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German Court Abolishes German Snooping Law

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the a-few-governmental-officials-with-good-sense-left dept.

Privacy 201

Robert writes to mention that Germany's highest court has imposed limitations on the amount of spying governmental bodies can do on a suspect's computer. The ruling comes in response to a state law on North Rhine Westphalia that had allowed secret services to peer into a citizen's computer. "Court President Hans-Juergen Papier said that using such software contravened rights enshrined in Germany's constitution, adding that the decision would serve as a precedent across the country. The ruling emphasized that cyber spying by the authorities would have to receive the permission of a judge. The German government has described cyber spying as a vital tool in fighting terrorism."

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201 comments

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22577612)

_0_
\''\
'=o='
.|!|
.| |
wir spielen goatse [goatse.ch]

Crazy World (5, Insightful)

tritonman (998572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577636)

What a crazy world where Germany knows more about freedom than America.

Re:Crazy World (-1, Flamebait)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577646)

Not really. When you move to a new neighborhood you have to register with the local police station. And the Catholic church by default gets money out of your paycheck. You have to request otherwise.

Re:Crazy World (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22577706)

??? Where did you hear that BS? Both is not true. (I am German)

Re:Crazy World (1)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577804)

I was told that by a German friend. (My advisor actually.) He left Germany in part because he found it very stifling, especially academically. If it has changed, perhaps some readers can tell us about this. But it certainly was this way until recently.

He complained about a lot of things like this. He was really angry when he went back for a visit with his kids and a restaurant wouldn't let him eat there if he brought them in. This is the kind of paternal attitude that he didn't like in general about the culture. OK, admittedly, that isn't about wiretapping....

Re:Crazy World (1, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577984)

He was really angry when he went back for a visit with his kids and a restaurant wouldn't let him eat there if he brought them in.

What kind of restraunt? Probably a high class one. Personally, if I'm dropping a significant amount of cash per plate, I don't want to have to listen to someone else's screaming brats.

I wish there were more restraunts here that excluded children, as they can ruin an otherwise good experience.

Re:Crazy World (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578174)

I wish there were more restraunts here that excluded children, as they can ruin an otherwise good experience.
I wish you a long life and many children.

Re:Crazy World (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578360)

What makes you think I want kids of my own?

Re:Crazy World (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578536)

If you don't wany any, you're an evolutionary dead-end and should be removed.

Or some would say.

Re:Crazy World (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579224)

Why is yours or anyone else's business if I or someone else chooses to have children?

Thats a fully personal choice and no one outside of the two people deciding should have any say-so. People need to mind their own business.

Re:Crazy World (3, Insightful)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578342)

"I wish there were more restraunts here that excluded children, as they can ruin an otherwise good experience."

Since my kids will be the ones paying for your pension, I'll call that a fair trade. You can wish they would shut up or go away now and in a few decades, they can wish you would take up smoking and mountain climbing.

Re:Crazy World (1, Offtopic)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578444)

Since my kids will be the ones paying for your pension

Pension? What's that? Do any companies even offer that anymore? I haven't seen any. Maybe you mean SSI? The ponzi scheme which will be bankrupt after my parents' generation retires? No... hmm, sorry, I don't see your kids paying for me.

I'll call that a fair trade

I don't. I earn my own living. Enough of your garbage where you somehow think that YOUR kids are so fucking important. They're not, they can die tomorrow, and I'd never know.

You can wish they would shut up or go away now and in a few decades, they can wish you would take up smoking and mountain climbing.

You assume I'll be interfering in their life somehow. I won't be. Keep your brats at home and stop ruining the country because you're too selfish to give anything up and expect everyone else to do your job.

Re:Crazy World (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22578552)

Are you a real troll? I mean, not the internet kind which you obviously are, but the real kind... like the ones that live under bridges and try to con goats out of their coin... grow the fuck up you egocentric piece of shit. You sound like that bitch of a neighbor in the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I hope Chevy Chase crashes a Christmas tree right through your fucking window. And for the record, in case you forgot, your self-righteous ass was a child once. Fucking prick. I pray you get a tazed the next time you get pulled over for speeding. See you on youtube you cunt!

Re:Crazy World (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22578712)

Unfortunately for you those kids have as much right to be everywhere that you are. In America everyone basically has equal rights to free passage. So I am sorry that you hate children. Is it because they used to beat you up when you were little? Are you of those /.ers who really is a super nerd and suffered a horrible childhood and now take it out on kids who had nothing to do with it. I really really wish I knew where you went to dinner because I have 2 kids you would love!!!!

Re:Crazy World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579018)

I don't particularly like being around children either, does that make me a bad person? I don't think so. I don't have anything against other people having kids, I just don't want any of my own. I have other things I would rather focus on than reproduction, mainly my career and hobbies. As far back as I can remember (I'm 34), I have never wanted children. Gladly, I have a fiancee that agrees with me.

Even if goes against evolution, as a race we need to reduce our population. 50% of what have now over a period of a couple generations sounds reasonable. Sadly countries with negative population growth are offset for countries with population booms, so it will probably end up being reduced through famine or war instead of being done decidedly and responsibly.

Oh yea, I had a great childhood and loving parents.

Re:Crazy World (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579298)

Let me guess, are you an only child?

If not, then you really aren't fitting in the FBI profile of a sadistic serial killer that I had you pegged for.

If you are an only child, then you fit the mold perfectly. I also propose that you immediately get a vesectomy unless your old age makes you weak and you recant on your promise not to have children.

 

I don't particularly like being around slaves either, does that make me a bad person? I don't think so. I don't have anything against other people having slaves, I just don't want any of my own.
Fixed it for ya!

Re:Crazy World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579592)

No, I'm a middle child. I have an sister that is 2 years older than me and a younger brother that is 3 years younger. As the above poster said, why is it the business of ANYONE other than me if I have children or not? I'm not same guy you were talking to earlier. The post you responded to was my only post in this thread until this one.

Unlike some people, I don't think it is our duty to reproduce. Also unlike you, I try to mind my own business and not get uptight about someone else's personal choice. You are not affected by this decision in any way, so there is no need to peg me as some serial killer. There are lots of people who wish to remain childless that are happy and productive members of society.

As for the slaves bit, how in gods name do you relate the two? You didn't fix anything for me, you made no sense.

Re:Crazy World (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578968)

Not all kids are screaming brats. If the person can't control their kids, then they should be asked to leave (depending on the resaurant). Some kids have no problem at all conducting themselves properly in a restaurant.

Re:Crazy World (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579376)

"...If the person can't control their kids, then they should be asked to leave..."

So the kids stay and the parents go back out to the car? - no thanks.

Re:Crazy World (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579086)

Heh, I couldn't agree more. Prepare to be flamed by parents who are convinced their children are little angels and could never annoy anyone in a movie theater or restaurant.

Re:Crazy World (1)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579354)

They don't like kids in Germany. Now if he'd brought along a dog, that would have been a different story. It's really disconcerting to eat in a German restaurant and have a dog snuffling around your feet. But hey, at least they don't cry.

Re:Crazy World (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22578092)

I was told that by a German friend. (My advisor actually.) He left Germany in part because he found it very stifling, especially academically. If it has changed, perhaps some readers can tell us about this. But it certainly was this way until recently.
You have to register in the city where you live. Not with the police, but with the city administration. Among other things, your place of residence defines the financial office where you pay your taxes to. Don't know how it is done in the US, but in Germany the cities directly profit from the tax money of their citizens.

Some religious communities collect a "church tax" via the state tax system. Of course, the money goes to your church, not necessarily the Catholic church. You can declare that you no longer want to pay money for your church (basically that you leave the community), then you don't pay any longer.

Re:Crazy World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22577828)

Both are partially true, but misleadingly set up. You do have to register a change of address, but you don't have to go in to the police station in person to do so; when I moved to Dresden it was just one of several forms in getting my work permit. The reference to the church tax is misleadingly construed; if you actually put down that you're Catholic or Lutheran on your taxes, you don't get the church tax back -- which is likely a reason why so many Germans claim not to have a religion. (I was being paid in the US, so I didn't get church tax taken out of my wages, but would have been liable for it when I filed if I'd put down a religion.)

Re:Crazy World (4, Interesting)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577956)

But don't you find it crazy that

1. The government is asking you what religion you are on your tax forms at all, and that they will be the instrument of collection for the "official" churches of Germany.

2. That if you are a Catholic, but don't want to pay the tax, you have to lie to the government and say you aren't. In which case you are "removed" from the church and can't have a church wedding.

3. That you have to tell the government when you move (police station, town hall, whatever) ?

4. Assigned an official religion by the state, based on what you parent were/are ? This in itself might be the worst of all of it!

Re:Crazy World (4, Informative)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578166)

It's not a tax as such. The state just collects the member fees of the catholic church on the church's behalf. If you don't pay your membership fees, you are not a catholic, as far as the church is concerned. However, I am opposed to the practice because it violates the complete separation of state and church which should be common practice among modern states.

Re:Crazy World (1)

Xelios (822510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578464)

And here I thought Scientology was the only 'religion' that charges membership fees. Donations are one thing, but a fee to be a Catholic? WWJD?

Re:Crazy World (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578932)

Well, catholicism is very community-oriented as well as old and bureaucratic (and very stable at that, it has to be said; few other organizations have lasted for 1900 years and counting). The fees are quite modest, I think (I never paid), and of course adjusted to income level.

Re:Crazy World (1)

Alinabi (464689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578244)

But don't you find it crazy that

1. The government is asking you what religion you are on your tax forms at all, and that they will be the instrument of collection for the "official" churches of Germany.

Not any crazier than when the government is asking what your political affiliation is, before they allow you to register to vote (as they do in the US).

Re:Crazy World (2, Insightful)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578396)

That's for closed primaries if you want to vote in them and anyway, you don't have to answer.

Re:Crazy World (1)

doktor-hladnjak (650513) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578502)

FWIW, voter registration is handled by the states (not the feds). Some states, such as Washington, do not have partisan voter registration. The form doesn't even mention political parties. Effectively, everybody is considered an independent and in a primary chooses their party of choice in the voting booth.

Re:Crazy World (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578248)

You don't get a wedding if you've left the church, not because you're not a follower of the church but because they're not going to offer services like that to someone who doesn't pay for the church. It's their income, it's what they use to pay their employees and buy the materials they need.

Re:Crazy World (3, Interesting)

doktor-hladnjak (650513) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578422)

Germany has a different political history than countries like the US and France, which ended up with strict church/state separation by way of revolutions involving ideas of the Enlightenment.

Perhaps the strangest thing about religion in the US vs. Germany, is that while Germany has little church/state separation, religion plays a much smaller role in public life than it does in the US. You have to wonder if state support of religion just makes the citizenry more clearly see that churches are just a non-democratic power structure dictating rules (of a moral nature) and collecting taxes (tithing).

Re:Crazy World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22578550)

the tax

It's called a tithe, and last I checked, several religions strongly suggest (and/or require) some percentage of your income to be tithed.

you are a Catholic, but don't want to pay the tax

If you don't tithe, you're not Catholic.

and can't have a church wedding.

Damn those Catholics for not carrying on ceremonies for non-Catholics!

As for the rest of the stuff about the government, this is part of why we in the US fought a war to stop being part of Europe.

Re:Crazy World (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22578644)

1. The government is asking you what religion you are on your tax forms at all, and that they will be the instrument of collection for the "official" churches of Germany.

2. That if you are a Catholic, but don't want to pay the tax, you have to lie to the government and say you aren't. In which case you are "removed" from the church and can't have a church wedding.
I think the historic reason for church taxes is that churches lost a lot of their medieval properties to the state(s) in the German speaking area in the early/middle 19th century. To compensate the loss of income, the state gave the right to the churches to collect taxes from their members (and to get them collected through the state tax agencies). It's up to the churches if they want to make use of this right, though. Several Christian churches in Germany which could collect church tax don't.

3. That you have to tell the government when you move (police station, town hall, whatever) ?
I don't think this is crazy. But maybe just because I always was used to it being this way. Your official place of residence defines for example where your tax money is going to. Don't know how you would do this if you don't have to live officially anywhere.

4. Assigned an official religion by the state, based on what you parent were/are ? This in itself might be the worst of all of it!
I don't think this is true. As far as the state is concerned, the existing (= tax collecting) religions are various Christian churches, mainly the Catholic and Protestant church. You become member of one of those churches by being baptised. If your parents are Catholic and you are not baptised, you still are not Catholic.

Re:Crazy World (4, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578646)

That you have to tell the government when you move

Find me a government that doesn't want to know where you live.

Oh sure, in the US you don't, assuming that you don't drive, don't have a government ID, don't vote, are unemployed (and not receiving benefits), don't own a house, and are not a male between the ages of 18 and 26.

Re:Crazy World (1)

zermous (1196831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578884)

You have a good point, and one counterexample doesnt mean anything, but you might be interested:
1. Drivers license from a different state with an ancient address.
2. Employer has an old address. They hand me my income tax papers directly
3. So what if I don't register for the draft?

But the voting thing bugs me. If it werent for that, nobody would be able to track me down. You cant be addressless but there isnt anything vital that requires an actual correct address for you. What happens if you lie? Oh I used to live there and forgot to change it; oh my parents used to live there; oh thats my girlfriends address. The man can't do anything about it.

Re:Crazy World (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579546)

Just because the US does it doesn't make it OK.

Re:Crazy World (3, Insightful)

Non-Huffable Kitten (1142561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578866)

You are harping on about principles and formalities that are non-issues except in theory, while in practice germany is a rather reasonable country regarding freedom of religion and other individual freedoms (IMO).

Re:Crazy World (1)

cyxxon (773198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579314)

But don't you find it crazy that
4. Assigned an official religion by the state, based on what you parent were/are ? This in itself might be the worst of all of it!
Err, that's not what is happening here in Germany. You just "join" one of the churches if your parents baptise you, and then that means that you are automatically required to pay the church tax - which, as someone else already correctly stated, is not a tax, but just a membership fee for the church collected by the state. My parents baptised me, though I never really became a christian, and as such I left the church by declaring this officially as soon as I would have had to pay my first of these fees. Really now, only reason to be mad at your parents, not at the church.
Although I would prefer it if the state did not collect the fees, as it would make more people conscious about whether they really want to support the church or not. Ah well, they are already losing members like crazy anyhow.

Re:Crazy World (1)

cycoj (1010923) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579428)

About 1.: Well people in the us get asked their ethnicity on a whole lot of forms, is that better than being asked your religion? Apart from that I'm not even 100% sure if you're being asked or if you're a member of either Catholic or Protestant church they'll report that to the government. Note this is not the government who's really behind this scheme, it's the 2 main churches in Germany. They get huge monetary gain from this, because lot's of people are too lazy to resign their church membership. I don't quite know how you say this impedes your freedom though. Note I actually strongly disagree with this practice because I think the government should not collect member fees for any church IMO. About 2.: Well if you're a Catholic and don't want to pay the member fees (note this really is what it is although it's called a tax) you have to foremost lie to your church, saying you're not a member. About 3.: True, there are things to be said about this though. Makes getting a bank account a lot easier, etc... About 4.: Not true. If you're baptised and either did Kommunion, or Konformation (dunno the english names probably similar) you become a member. The thing is most people do that, because you get lot's of presents. Well tough luck it was your decision to become a member so you have to resign. Note I'm german, although I don't live in Germany. Living in NZ, and don't think I wanna go back to Germany either, because in quite a few ways I have to agree Germany is restrictive, the work attitude is to serious, people are too uptight in general. I also think Germany is developing more and more into a police state. However the US would probably be the last place I would wanna go to. Freedom is a whole lot more restricted in the US, in my experience. Hell the US are leading the pack in the western world in the current restriction of citizen freedoms.

Re:Crazy World (1)

cycoj (1010923) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579466)

Sorry messed up the formatting in the last post.
About 1.:
Well people in the us get asked their ethnicity on a whole lot of forms, is that better than being asked your religion? Apart from that I'm not even 100% sure if you're being asked or if you're a member of either Catholic or Protestant church they'll report that to the government. Note this is not the government who's really behind this scheme, it's the 2 main churches in Germany. They get huge monetary gain from this, because lot's of people are too lazy to resign their church membership. I don't quite know how you say this impedes your freedom though. Note I actually strongly disagree with this practice because I think the government should not collect member fees for any church IMO.

About 2.:
Well if you're a Catholic and don't want to pay the member fees (note this really is what it is although it's called a tax) you have to foremost lie to your church, saying you're not a member.

About 3.:
True, there are things to be said about this though. Makes getting a bank account a lot easier, etc...

About 4.:
Not true. If you're baptised and either did Kommunion, or Konformation (dunno the english names probably similar) you become a member. The thing is most people do that, because you get lot's of presents. Well tough luck it was your decision to become a member so you have to resign.

Note I'm german, although I don't live in Germany. Living in NZ, and don't think I wanna go back to Germany either, because in quite a few ways I have to agree Germany is restrictive, the work attitude is to serious, people are too uptight in general. I also think Germany is developing more and more into a police state. However the US would probably be the last place I would wanna go to. Freedom is a whole lot more restricted in the US, in my experience. Hell the US are leading the pack in the western world in the current restriction of citizen freedoms.

Re:Crazy World (2, Insightful)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578218)

Both are partially true, but misleadingly set up. You do have to register a change of address, but you don't have to go in to the police station in person to do so;

And I guess German practice (which I think is pretty common in Europe) evens out with the US practice of no registration if you consider that in turn you are not asked for your social security number at every corner.

Re:Crazy World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22577840)

Church tax [wikipedia.org]

"Members of a religious community under public law may formally declare their wish to leave the community to state (not religious) authorities. With such a declaration, the obligation to pay church taxes ends. Some communities refuse to administer marriages and burials of (former) members who had declared to leave it."

The other one I have no clue about.

Such legalistic integration of the church sounds a bit similar to Ontario, Canada, where because of declarations in the laws that founded the country (the BNA, specifically), as long as the country called Canada exists, the Ontario government must fund Catholic religious education. In a tongue-in-cheek way, such schools are referred to as "separate" schools, both by the government itself, and generally by those going to public (or non-religious, yet government funded, not UK "public") school. Most Catholics call them Catholic schools, of course.

Re:Crazy World (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22578282)

I am German, too. Both things may be misunderstandings, but they are no better that they are described. I've never had to register at the police station, but we have to register at the "Ortsamt" (city agency), now called the "Kundenzentrum" (customer center, seriously). We have a church tax, which we are only required to pay if we are a member of a church. Much worse though, many bishops and cardinals and such people are paid with regular non-optional tax money, which is not very well known.

Re:Crazy World (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577800)

If you're registered as a member of an evangelic or catholic church you pay church taxes. I think you inherit that state from your parents by default, you can leave the church though (don't expect the church to like it if you want a church wedding though).

Also you register with the town hall, not the police station.

Re:Crazy World (2, Insightful)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578074)

You don't register with the police, but with the state. Yes, for some reason they want to know where you live, so as to know where you have to pay taxes, are allowed to vote etc. I guess the IRS also has your adress?

Re:Crazy World (1)

MttJocy (873799) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578412)

I would have to agree that the same happens in any country the state (or one or more of it's agencies) will require this information in the UK that would firstly be the local authority (which is closest to a city administration but cover areas of a city or sometimes more than one town/city) for the purpose of council taxes your personal details will be registered and connected with the address of any residence you own or rent (not just your primary residence) of course the council tax works a different way to income tax but serves the same purpose as a city/state or other local element of tax (income or otherwise) and oddly enough requires you to provide a state agency with your residence information.

Re:Crazy World (1)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579456)

Not really. When you move to a new neighborhood you have to register with the local police station. And the Catholic church by default gets money out of your paycheck. You have to request otherwise.

With regard to the first point, is that really so different from having to report your new address to the Department of Motor Vehicles when you move (in the U.S.)? Regardless, the State wants to know where you live.

The second point is indeed a fundamental difference between Europe and the US. However, it's not just the Catholic church--it's either the Catholic or German Protestant (Evangelische) Church that gets the money. This goes back to a system of government where Church and State were intertwined. Today, at least you have a choice--you can say you're an atheist...or a Muslim. Then you don't have to pay church tax.

you live and you learn (4, Insightful)

themushroom (197365) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577778)

Germany had a mad dictator at one time stomping on personal freedoms, and the country learned from that about how democracy and freedom should work. The country has pledged never to let that crap happen again.

America will pick that lesson up in, oh, about eleven months or so if we're lucky. You don't know what you've got until it's gone.

Re:you live and you learn (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578002)

Yeah. Except they can't get video games with blood or Nazis in them. In some ways they have more freedom, in other ways they have less. Just like almost every other country.

Re:you live and you learn (1)

neuromanc3r (1119631) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578158)

Funny, I thought Quake 3, GTA etc. had blood in them. And there were Nazis in Medal of Honour. But since you clearly know what you are talking about, I must be mistaken.

Re:you live and you learn (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578286)

Not really. Company of Heroes is rated 16 and it has both. Nazi flags are allowed under certain circumstances but noone's gonna try what falls under them.

Re:you live and you learn (1)

linux_geek_germany (1079711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578296)

True, but you can import games from Austria or some other country without any problems.

Re:you live and you learn (1, Troll)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578334)

and if you're a Crytek employee you get a shotgun up your nose with a screaming German police officer on the other side.. [gamepolitics.com]

When I tell people in Germany what I do for a living, they usually react with a mixture of pity and disgust, like I had admitted to them I was a male prostitute.

For computer games both the press and public are histrionic, and the politicians are keen to tap into every reactionary outrage...
Yeah... sounds like a great place to live..

Re:you live and you learn (3, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578122)

You don't know what you've got until it's gone.

True that! Good riddance to my ex-wife!

Re:you live and you learn (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578844)

It's unfortunate that Germany's history has practically annihilated any hope of an immigration control policy.

Re:you live and you learn (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578850)

I love the fact that everyone plainly points the finger at Bush as the culprit. Speaking of Hitler, I believe he did this with the Jews. You find one person or subdivision of society to blame for everything. I, for one, blame the entire legislative branch for everything that has taken place over the past 8 years, and unfortunantly, they'll still be around... long after Bush. Instead of blaming the person who used the power he was alotted, maybe YOU should blame the people who gave him that power.

Re:you live and you learn (1)

OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578876)

I agree with this, sort of.

After World War II Germany had a large number of war criminals who helped perpetrate the Holocaust and who needed privacy to hide from the survivors of the many families that they murdered. Therefore, privacy laws were and are a priority to Germans.

In 11 months the US may find the need for similar laws when the truth emerges about what went on in Iraq.

Re:Crazy World (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577830)

Except the whole free speech thing regarding neo-nazis.

Re:Crazy World (4, Informative)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578736)

the whole free speech thing regarding neo-nazis

A few things to consider::

These laws stem from the post-war time, and while I am fuzzy on the details in Germany, I would imagine that the US had a bigger hand in creating these (IMHO just) laws than the locals, who would have preferred to ignore the whole unhappy Holocaust incident. I certainly was that way in my home country, Austria. Post-war, these laws also had practical application, you really couldn't have Nazi ex-leaders clamoring for support in the streets. (I would think the US Army sees it similarly in Iraq right now, probably somewhat less appropriately.)

Later, the rights of the Jews and other survivors of the Nazi atrocities had to be considered, of whom many still lived in Germany and Austria, though sadly (but understandably) many chose to stay the hell away -- Germany and Austria not exactly inviting them back, either. It's kind of hard to deal with random (or not so random) Germans/Austrians now living in your house, from which the Nazis had dragged you away into camps in the middle of the night. Those who chose to stay or come back to contribute to the Nazis' successor states' economic and moral resurrection had every right not to be subjugated to dribbling Nazis and neo-nazis in the streets and on the media, denying the Holocaust, etc. In any case, the Nazis had certainly forfeited their right to free speech, don't you think?

The situation could change now and I am pretty sure that over a number of years, Germany would come to the conclusion that this exception should be removed. However, pretty strong neonazi parties have managed to enter several federal states' governments. These currently do not form a credible political force but are disturbing nonetheless, especially because their success clusters around (but is not strictly exclusive to) the post-GDR eastern federal states. Consequently, this pending discussion in Germany (and Austria) is delayed. In any case, IMHO the German neonazis also have forfeited their free speech rights, through voluntary association with mass murderers and through approx. 70 court-ruled violent crimes per year against foreigners, punks, leftists, jews, etc., the number of reported and unreported cases of course much much higher (dunno the numbers for Austria right now, I'd figure they are way lower per capita).

Re:Crazy World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22578988)

had certainly forfeited their right to free speech ... through voluntary association with ...

No, a man does not ever forfeit his right to free speech. And no-one ever forfeits any right "through voluntary association".

You appear to be blissfully unaware of how close your argument comes to the Nazi case for anti-Semitism: the damage to a people post-war (though in Mein Kampf, it was about how Aryans were harmed post-WW1) and the consequent right to be protected from some nebulous group who were somehow deserving of collective blame and punishment.

Neo-nazis are welcome to spout their retarded nonsense on their property, or wherever any other property owner gives permission, or in any public place. It benefits me for two reasons:
  1. Each man who dedicates his life to lunacy is one less man I have to compete with;
  2. Each man willing to expose his ideas for the laughing stock they are is one more stab at the whole ideology.

Re:Crazy World (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579088)

All your remarks sound fine from afar. Don your black skin and take walk through some of the affected towns, and let us talk then.

Re:Crazy World (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579206)

Oh yeah, and while again I am unsure about details in Germany, in Austria it is definitely the case that the law does not affect private speech at all. It is only about organized, public, political speech. Anyway, I did not even defend that the law is not being repealed now or soon, I just explained why it is the case, and that I won't fall over myself to help them.

Re:Crazy World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579380)

What about it? According to Worldwide Press Freedom Index as of 2007, (http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24025/ [rsf.org] ), Germany ranked 20th, while the US ended up 48th.

Re:Crazy World (1)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578154)

can I ask a silly question... if you don't like your government that much, why do you not revolt and over throw it? if you want your freedom, take it.

Re: Crazy World (3, Funny)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578224)

I've seen what Germans do with their computers on the internet. I'm surprised they had to make their law enforcement bodies stop spying on those things. I'd treat a German crime suspect's computer like a duffel bag of goatse Polaroids.

Re:Crazy World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579296)

I find it amazing that so many people seem to just assume that Germany is some sort of oppressive regime, instead of the free, modern democracy it is.

The wall came down nearly 20 years ago - and even that only affected half the country.
Hitler has been dead for around 60 years.

Germany, in some form or other has existed for nearly 2000 years - during its history it has been on average no more or less free than every other European country.

It seems that the American psyche is completely incapable of looking at history other than WW2 - and even there they're deluded.

Also, when deciding how "Free" America is - don't look at the constitution, that's just the theory - look at how free you are in practice.

Just when you thought the German legal system... (5, Funny)

Channard (693317) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577638)

.. had peaked with closing the tax loophole that lets Uwe Boll make films, they go and do this. Where will it all end?

Ummmm.... (-1, Troll)

texspeed (726961) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577650)

does anyone see the irony in the former Nazi and (partially) Communist country protecting rights that are supposed to also be constitutionally protected in the US as well?

Re:Ummmm.... (4, Informative)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578300)

Dude, where/when are you living? I happen to live in Germany and I can tell you that there is only a tiny minority of extremists (US has this probably, too). Educate [wikipedia.org] yourself just a tiny bit, please. Imho the amount of assholes in the world is fairly distributed around the world. But prejudice never seems to vanish...

Now a few words about the actual story: First, it's only partially a victory for privacy. Both the supporters and the opponents of strict security laws count this judgment a success. That's because the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court of Germany [wikipedia.org] ) didn't forbid online spying in principle. They found this specific law to be against the constitution, and they ruled that there have to be some security measures (such as authorization by judge in each case), but in principle it is possible for the German government to spy on people.

On the other hand, they ruled for the first time, that there is a Grundrecht auf Vertraulichkeit und Integrität informationstechnischer Systeme (something like basic right for trust and integrity of IT systems) even though I am not really sure what consequences this will have.

Re:Ummmm.... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579116)

such as authorization by judge in each case
What would be wrong with this? If it's forbidden, except under specific circumstances which are clearly defined. We don't have an absolute right to privacy in the US, either, we've ceded a little of it (through court-issued Warrants, and even circumstance-based interpretation of the word, "warrant") so that we can be protected from those who would do us harm.

Only anarchists think that "privacy rights" should mean that you have the right to not get caught doing nefarious crap.

Why?!? (4, Insightful)

F-3582 (996772) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577676)

Why has a Supreme Court to tell politicians that their laws are against the constitution? Wasn't that obvious in the first place?

Besides, this is not the first law being overturned for human rights reasons. The German Secretary of Defense had passed a law to grant the military the right to shoot down a high-jacked aeroplane full of civilians.

It seems like our politicians have forgotten how our last dictator (aka unser Führer) became as powerful as he did: By passing laws to abolish human rights under the coat of stabilizing the country. Only did he have the Supreme Court on HIS side.

Re:Why?!? (5, Insightful)

Peter Trepan (572016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577920)

Why has a Supreme Court to tell politicians that their laws are against the constitution?

For the same reason we need policemen to remind thieves that larceny is illegal.

Re:Why?!? (1)

bondjamesbond (99019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577990)

Are you talking about the US or Germany? I see the parallels to the US.

Other European Spy Stuff (4, Informative)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577702)

Also interesting is the article linked in TFA [bbc.co.uk] which gives an overview of domestic spying in Germany, Italy, the UK, and Greece, France, and Denmark.

I have newfound respect for the Greeks.

Correction to German Government statement (1, Troll)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577750)

The German government has described cyber spying as a vital tool in fighting terrorism.
Correction:

The German government has described cyber spying as a vital tool in ensuring totalitarianism.
There, fixed that for them.

missing tag:suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577798)

Truly - simple common sense, which seems to be rather un-common between the Rio Grande and the 49th parallel for the past 8 years...

RS

Re:missing tag:suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578156)

The late great Walt Kelly said it best (through Pogo of course)- "Common sense ain't so common."

But (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577820)

It's ok for Germany to bribe bank employees in Liechtenstein in order to snoop on private citizens' bank accounts.

Re:But (1)

Timosch (1212482) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578298)

There is currently a strong dispute going on about the legality of this in Germany.

Well, actually... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22577822)

... that means they kinda legalized it (with said limitations) for all states, when it was illegal (in all states but NRW) before this ruling. The police searching the home of suspects is "limited" by pretty much the same rules (permission by a judge etc.) - and is generally permitted everytime the state attorney asks nicely. The judges often don't even really read the request before signing it off.

Plus: in case of raiding your appartment, you instantly know the Police have been there (they have to do it in your presence, or in the presence of an independent witness, plus your appartment is in obvious disarray) - while you have no idea that said trojan (yes, that's what even the government calls it) has been installed on your Computer.

Surveillance state, here we come!

Re:Well, actually... (1)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578232)

They didn't legalize it. To be legal, there needs to be a law allowing it. They struck down the first such law allowing it in one state, NRW. So right now it's not legal anywhere. However, based on the ruling, the federal gov. is expected to pass a law soon, legalizing it everywhere. The ruling did however put hard restrictions on any such law.

Even more important (3, Insightful)

Yokaze (70883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577868)

> The ruling emphasized that cyber spying by the authorities would have to receive the permission of a judge.

I'd say, that is a given. More importantly, the ruling states that such measures are only allowed, if there is a concrete and imminent threat of life or the foundations of the state.

My Fiancee's a German Lawyer (4, Informative)

stevedcc (1000313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577898)

1) Germany doesn't have case law - there's no such thing as a precedent under German Law. This court's job is to rule on the legality of laws; the court can interpret how the law should be applied, then that becomes the law: another interpretation can't arise from another court

2) This is Germany's Constitutional court - there's no higher or lower instance for this type of law.

IANAL etc.

Re:My Fiancee's a German Lawyer (1)

Timosch (1212482) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578478)

That is true, the Federal Supreme Court is supposed to be something like an ultima ratio, in case everything else hasn't worked. Usually courts have to judge if an act is covered by law. This court however decides if a law (or as well an act of the executive power) is constitutional. (However, it is often used as kind of an appeal-appeal, because you just need to find anything in the constitution connected to your case.) Decisions of this court cannot be overturned by any other court. Anyway, because of these high powers it is kind of a Supreme Court, also because Constitutional Law is superior to normal law. And from decisions like that, they received quite great confidence from the people. (At least I can now be quite certain that there are no police agents spying in my computer... - well, if they act legally...)

Re:My Fiancee's a German Lawyer (2, Informative)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578748)

This court's job is to rule on the legality of laws
Just nitpicking... this court's job is to rule on the constitutionality of laws. A law is not legal or illegal, it is constitutional or unconstitutional.

Re:My Fiancee's a German Lawyer (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579584)

?1) Germany doesn't have case law - there's no such thing as a precedent under German Law.

Ok.

the court can interpret how the law should be applied, then that becomes the law: another interpretation can't arise from another court,

Uh, what? Isn't that setting precedent?

I hope (1)

DeftPunk79 (1232522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22577900)

that our own lawmakers will take this as a sign. A country that is traditionally more strict than our own and gives fewer rights to its citizens follows our constitution better than our own government.

Sorry charlie -- you'll have to get off your ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22578108)

If you're hoping that this ruling from Germany will save you, it won't. Our (US) Supreme Court recently declined to even hear the case brought by the EFF over illegal wiretapping done here.

It's well past time to get off your ass if you want this to change. Have you contacted your congresscritters about FISA?

Re:I hope (1)

Timosch (1212482) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579462)

"More strict" is a bit generalized. While it is true that free speech is stricter regulated in Germany (such as in holocaust denial, hate speech), personality rights and human dignity have an extremely high rank, and national security has far less attention (although it is also on the rise since 9/11). All in all, it's simply the system of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) reverted. When the German constitution was written in 1949, ppl thought about how Hitler's rise could have been prevented by a stronger constitution, so they made everything completely the other way around this time. The Weimar Republic also had a lot of direct democracy, which is one of the reasons for which there is nearly none in Germany nowadays (talking about the federal level). And looking at Guantanamo, I think the USA also once had better Habeas Corpus possibilities...

. . .morefreethanus tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22577960)

We just knew it was a matter of time.

In fascist Germany... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22578070)

You can't be spied upon

germanyismorefreethanus (1)

Shteven (1137821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578120)

If one lives in Germany, and reads this tag, does Germany become infinitely free via recursion? Quick, we need an Americaismorefreethanus tag immediately - or just save time and make theworldismorefreethanus instead!

My take on this. (4, Insightful)

erlehmann (1045500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578556)

Whenever a law is found unconstitutional, each and every politician who voted for it should have his right revoked to be part of the parliament and never be able to be a candidate in any election again.

Who needs a judge (1)

losethisurl (980326) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578570)

The ruling emphasized that cyber spying by the authorities would have to receive the permission of a judge All they need to do is get a job at Best Buy

Details on the Judgement (3, Informative)

burni (930725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578604)

This was a judgement on behalf of a law of one of germanys federal states(1)

this law was made for giving the state agency "Landesverfassungsschutz"(2)  the ability to install such software, this law was ruled unconstitional.

But it's not the method itself, which was ruled unconstitutional, but the ruling in its details just restricts future federal laws(3).

The trojan software can now only be installed under the condition a judge decides to do so,
and this also only on the following conditions

- threat to human life ( abduction, murder )
- threat to the federal republic of germany ( terrorism )

If information and data is gathered containing sensitive private information,
this data must be delete just in time and shall not be brought to court under any circumstances,
this includes the possesion of childpornography.

(1) similar to the US germany consists as a federal system, including 16 states which form the federal republic of germany

(2) a like homeland security such way for a single state in the federation,
germany also has a federal agency which coordinates the work of the state agencies

(3) which are planned by the ministry of internal afairs with it's minister Wolfgang Schaeuble
"BKA-Gesetz" (BKA similar to the FBI)

Chaosradio: Federal Trojan (1)

erlehmann (1045500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578688)

German Chaos Computer Club does a radio show (in german) right now (22:00 GMT+1) about.

Infos (and later podcast download):
http://chaosradio.ccc.de/cr132.html [chaosradio.ccc.de]

Streams:
        * MP3 128kBit/s VBR Joint Stereo
                    o http://stream.xenim.de:8000/cr_128k_vbr.mp3 [xenim.de]
                    o http://streams.xenim.de:8000/cr_128k_vbr.mp3.m3u [xenim.de]

        * OGG 56kBit/s VBR Stereo
                    o http://stream.xenim.de:8000/cr_56k.ogg [xenim.de]
                    o http://streams.xenim.de:8000/cr_56k.ogg.m3u [xenim.de]

        * OGG 96kBit/s VBR Stereo
                    o http://stream.xenim.de:8000/cr_96k.ogg [xenim.de]
                    o http://streams.xenim.de:8000/cr_96k.ogg.m3u [xenim.de]

        * OGG 128kBit/s VBR Stereo
                    o http://stream.xenim.de:8000/cr_128k.ogg [xenim.de]
                    o http://streams.xenim.de:8000/cr_128k.ogg.m3u [xenim.de]

As english speaking slashdots only (5, Insightful)

vorlich (972710) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579470)

Scottish Bavarian ... I have mentioned on a number of occasions that the constitution of the Bundesrepublik is very similar to the US constitution but at least 27 pages longer and offering even greater protection to the rights of the individual.

Now the millstones of the German legal system grind exceedingly slower than those of the UK or the US and rights are commonly regarded as having greater weight post court ruling (for anthropological reasons that are too long to repeat) but grind they do and once the grinding is done, the constitution rules.

The Germans are a people who are really good at learning from past mistakes (the foundation of their superb engineering skills) and the constitution is modelled as the absolute antithesis to lawlessness of that brief reign of the National Socialists.

As for the church tax (Kirchensteuer) contrary to the propaganda of amongst others, the Scientologists, that is a relic of the historical development of the Principalities post Holy Roman Empire when the Princes were responsible for the care and maintenance of the Catholic Church - which was the state religion until Martin Luther's protestant revolution. You can opt out of the tax by completing a form at the Rathaus - there is no need to lie.

When viewed properly from the wide angled lens of history, Germany is an example of a nation that evolved into a very liberal and tolerant society of highly cultured citizens (sometimes to the point of affectatiousness it is true - but you know every family has its oddballs) and every level of society is affected by this native tolerance. So when you read other posts here that mention Adolf, police states, restriction of the rights of the individual - take it from a native Auslander - it is merely the stereotypical FUD we often see here.

I know, humour gets you more mod points but sometimes even I have to be serious.

I thought the title read "spooning" (1)

jvchamary (845612) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579528)

You're welcome to join me and Hermes for a little "just friends" spooning.
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