Germany’s constitutional court ruled that a highly controversial privacy law should be overturned. Even before the verdict, the case made history: a record number of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the existing law.
Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled Tuesday that a privacy law concerning the mass storage of telephone and Internet communication data was unconstitutional and should be thrown out. The highly controversial law, in place since 2008, required telecom companies to store data from telephone, mobile and e-mail communication, as well as Internet usage information, for up to half a year. That backlog of data must now be deleted, and no further data stored. Around 35,000 people opposed the law in Germany’s largest class action suit, among them lawyers, doctors, journalists and politicians like Volker Beck of the Green party and Burkhard Hirsch, a member of the Free Democratic Party (FDP). Wolfgang Bosbach, the Christian Democrat chairman of the federal internal affairs committee, warned of the adverse consequences of the court’s decision for the fight against terrorism. Bosbach said such data is crucial to preventing terror attacks like those in Madrid and London in 2004 and 2005. “There are no fingerprints, no traces of DNA [online]. If we don’t have this data, then many of these offenses will go undetected.”