While Surveillance around the World Is Constantly Growing, Germany Celebrates a Victory for Privacy

Surveillance around the world increases, recently fueled by terrorist attacks in France and Belgium. Sadly, the German government is no exception with Merkel saying 'when in doubt we favor security'. However, the German Constitutional Court has proven again that it is an important defender of our right to privacy.

In April 2016 Germany's highest court ruled that parts of the 'BKA-Gesetz' that grant surveillance powers to the federal police are unconstitutional. The basis for this ruling is that Germany's constitution states that the right to privacy is a basic human right that every citizen deserves.

The importance of our right to privacy was particularly highlighted in the German constitution, which was written after WWII with the surveillance of Hitler's Gestapo in mind. Now the surveillance rights granted to the federal police with the 'BKA-Gesetz' do not include sufficient safeguard to ensure a balance between the individuals' right to privacy and the interest of the state to investigate a potential crime.

Defender of Privacy: German Constitutional Court

The Court restricted the law in such a way that the right to privacy of German citizens is protected. The Constitutional Court argued that the 'BKA-Gesetz' was vague, overly broad and lacking "supplementary rule-of-law safeguards, particularly safeguards protecting the core area of private life or guaranteeing transparency, individual legal protection, and judicial overview."

Reminded by this pro-privacy ruling, politicians should realize that they can't defend freedom if they sacrifice our freedoms whenever it seems opportune. Article 1 of the German constitution says: "Human dignity is unimpeachable." Now the rule of law defends us against excessive mass surveillance.

Politicians Don't Want to Live in a Surveillance State

Germany’s Constitutional Court has shown itself again to be a successful defender of our right to privacy, protecting us from illegal mass surveillance. Politicians need to realize that their favoring of more and more surveillance will lead to just that: more surveillance of innocent people. In the end they don't want to live in such a surveillance state themselves.

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Hanna makes Tutanota come to life. Her credo: Every one of us has the right to express any idea freely, or to keep it secret. Encryption is a great tool to achieve the latter.

Posted on: 2016-05-30