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State police gain power to cut mobile network
Photo: DPA

State police gain power to cut mobile network

Published: 18 Dec 2012 12:50 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Dec 2012 12:50 GMT+01:00

The eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt said on Tuesday that it had re-drafted a law in order to let police shut down mobile phone networks in times of imminent danger without the go-ahead from a court. Critics voiced have concern about misuse.

The new law would mean police did not have to be granted permission from a court to shut down wireless communications if they were faced with threats such as a mobile-operated bomb, hostage situation or shooting spree, the daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Saxony-Anhalt would be the first German state to allow this and critics are concerned that police might use their new power to switch off networks during mass demonstrations - something state Interior Minister Holger Stahlknecht firmly denied.

He said that the state's governing coalition of Christian and Social Democrats sat down and agreed on a range of different situations in which shutting off mobile connectivity might be needed. “Demonstrations were absolutely not on the list,” he told the paper.

“Networks would only be shut down or interrupted if a situation seemed to pose a direct, serious threat to the state or country, or the life and limb, or freedom, of citizens,” said the draft.

It added that all mobile phone providers would have to make themselves able to be shut off. Turning them back on would be down to the police.

Rüdiger Erben, deputy chairman of the state's Social Democratic parliamentary group, said redrafting the law was important because it was introduced in 1991 when far fewer people had mobiles.

In Berlin, police may only shut down communications networks without the permission of a court if they think there could be a bomb with a mobile-operated detonator. In Thuringia and Lower Saxony, a judge has to be present if police flip the off switch.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:27 December 18, 2012 by trevzns
What do most german citizens expect? They have rights to freedom of commutation and unrestricted freedom of speech?

Germany as a member of the United World Justice League of superheroes and gate keepers of democracy make rules up and govern as they please.
13:36 December 18, 2012 by grinners
The police need more control.

A perfect solution indeed. We should all rally behind Mr Stahlknecht and Mr Erben and praise them for their work.

He really is making a difference and saving lives!
14:16 December 18, 2012 by lucksi
if there was a bomb with a mobile-operated detonator; then that would be the only case something like this should ever be used. Of what good would it be if a mass shooting is taking place to shut of cell phones?

Also, if there was a bomb with a mobile-operated detonator, don't we already have the technology to jam phones on small scale? If we have that, then there is no need for that law at all.
16:21 December 18, 2012 by catjones
Leave it to the germans to outsmart the criminals, aka The Law of Unintended Consequences.
16:54 December 18, 2012 by freechoice
great shutdown the phones, and nobody can call the emergency vehicles. more people will be left dying on the streets. anal thinking again by the local authorities.
18:56 December 18, 2012 by zeddriver
Europeans crack me up. you want a nanny state that takes care of you from cradle to grave. But when the nanny state starts acting like a nanny. Everyone is shocked.
20:02 December 18, 2012 by Englishted
Gema and this welcome to censorship central.
21:41 December 18, 2012 by Tonne
That's right, zeddriver, we like the state to look after us and we are shocked when the state fails to protect us. It's an old world thing.

When elementary schoolchildren are gunned down by a citizen with an assault rifle because the state puts the right to bear arms above the right to life, we are shocked.
23:15 December 18, 2012 by zeddriver
Little slow on the up take Tonne. The nanny state has said it can and will cut off your cell network as it sees fit. And the fans of the nanny state don't like it. If Europeans like the nanny state so much. Why would they question this.

To answer your little diversion. Do you understand how the constitution even works? The founding fathers gave Americans the right to have guns to protect our selves from THEM. Yes. From the very government they started. So there you go Mr. Einstein. The STATE gave the Americans the right to have guns and thought that it was so important. That they codified it into the bill of rights. Which they purposely made difficult to change. But believe it or not. The constitution can and has been changed several times. All it takes is for congress to conviene a constitutional convention proposing a change. Then a super majority of the states then vote to accept or deny said change.
08:13 December 19, 2012 by DavidtheNorseman
At least in California, police already have this power (though they'd have to explain themselves afterwards). Google Bill SB 1160 and find the law passed just in August where it can be done " for messages counseling, aiding, abetting, or encouraging treason or resistance to lawful authority".

I can see where it might be needed and I can see where it could be abused - the same as any other police power.
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