Categories: Surveillance

Data retention in Deutschland

Tomorrow (Friday) the German legislature (the Bundestag) is set to vote on a mandatory data retention law that would require telecommunications and internet service providers to store the location data, SMS and call metadata, and IP addresses of everyone in Germany. Ordinarily, we can look to Germany to be a leader on privacy, which is why it’s so disappointing to see the German government advance legislation that places all users at risk.

While this legislation isn’t as bad as other data retention proposals we’ve seen (e.g., in France, the US, and Canada), to highlight the many dangers of mandatory data retention as a practice and express our opposition to this legislation, we sent a letter, signed by Denelle Dixon-Thayer, Mozilla’s Chief Business and Legal Officer, to every member of the Bundestag. You can read the letter here in English and here in German.

The Mozilla community has also been speaking out against this legislation. Working with local German partners Digitale Gesellschaft and we created a petition enabling German-speaking Mozillians to call on the Bundestag to reject this legislation. So far thousands of users have taken action! While it’s always inspiring to see users mobilizing to protect the open Web, this is particularly exciting for us as it is Mozilla’s first advocacy campaign in a language other than English, as well as the first outside of the United States. The Mozilla Policy Team was also in Berlin last week to speak to German lawmakers about this bill.

While it’s likely that this data retention law will pass the Bundestag, we’re confident that it will be struck down by German courts. Indeed, this wouldn’t be the first time that the German courts put a stop to data retention practices. In 2010, the German Federal Constitutional Court struck down Germany’s last data retention law, and in April of last year, the Court of Justice of the EU, the highest court in Europe, issued a sweeping condemnation of mandatory data retention and invalidated the Data Retention Directive (which required every EU country to enact a data retention mandate). This makes it all the more disappointing that the German government is pushing ahead with trying to bring data retention back from the dead, even as other countries across Europe have been repealing their old data retention laws.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation in Germany and to continue to oppose mandatory data retention laws elsewhere in the world. To take action on the law before the Bundestag, click here!