In case Az. 5 C314/06 against the Federal Ministry of Justice, the District Court of Berlin Central has decided that all retained data must be deleted by the end of the contract with the customer. According to the judges, retention of data even beyond the contract period is a violation of the right to informational self-determination.
Archive for the ‘Digital Responsibility’ Category
It has been a couple of days already, but on November 9th, around noon (finally not in a midnight session!), the German Parliament has adopted the law on data retention (VDS: Vorratsdatenspeicherung) with a lower limit of 6 monthes of retention. This legislation requires all connection metadata to be saved for 6 monthes before they may get deleted.
During the vote, which was held around noon, the parliament was an astonishingly empty place. This legislation, which can serve to turn Germany into a surveillance state, did not even raise enough interest among the parliamentarians to cause a significant majority of them to vote on the issue, which is a rather sad thing.
According to the German federal police, there is «no alternative» to the data retention policy. The same argument could be applied to death row, so it is utterly worthless as an argument.
I invite everyone who has talked to his local parliamentarian in Germany to have a word with him about why he did not appear in Parliament or why he voted in favor of the proposal (if so): have a look at the voting list for the German data retention law.
Not all is lost
But there is still a way to influence the legislation even after it has been passed. The Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung has a press release on their preparation of legal action against the law. According to the Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung, the legislation is in disagreement with the German constitution and thus cannot be adopted as it has been presented right now.
And the Arbeitskreis Datenspeicherung is not alone with this opinion: Parliamentarians of the Socialist Party (SPD) mentioned that they also don’t think the law is compatible with the constitution, but expressed that the Constitutional Court would take care of it.
Questioned about privacy laws and censorship, search engine providers can indeed give out weird messages. This became clear after an inquiry to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo about their search politics relating to China. All of these search engine providers have separate search engines for display and use in China which respect the local legal framework. However, this framework demands both censorship and reports on who searched what. People searching for keywords such as «democracy» are to be turned in by the search engine provider.
Inquired about China, Google hands out a lenghty document typed up personally which explains that business pressure demands Google to operate in China. However, Google would not be allowed in China unless they implement the legal framework. The situation is called unsatisfactory, and a solution is said to be seeked but has to take place on an international, political level.
Also, Google says that the request to turn in people searching for certain keywords is not binding, and thus Google does not implement it.
Yahoo chose not to respond at all to inquiries related to China.
Questioned about China, Microsoft returned a prepared letter endorsing censorship as a perfect tool to keeping undesirable content away from the users. According to Microsoft, one should also look at the positive side of censorship. However, just like Google, Microsoft does not turn in users based on search requests.
It appears that Google is the only company which really has some kind of sense of corporate responsibility on the subject of censorship. It is however a fact that Google still plays with the dragons in this game, and hopefully Google will participate in any effort to clear up this issue in the future. The most unacceptable answer was probably that of Microsoft. Censorship is not acceptable under any circumstances, especially since it is not appropriate for any enterprise to decide on what a customer is willing to look at or not, for whatever reasons.