• Germany edition
 
German terror list breaks privacy rules: court
Photo: DPA

German terror list breaks privacy rules: court

Published: 24 Apr 2013 15:40 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Apr 2013 15:40 GMT+02:00

The Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the database, which was set up in 2007 to help German security officials share information about suspected terrorists, did not break the rule about separating police and secret services laid down in Germany's constitution.

A retired judge had challenged the database because he believed it blurred the strict dividing line between law enforcement and intelligence established after World War II to stamp out the abuses of the Nazi period.

But judges in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe rejected the complaint, arguing that attacks by militants represented an assault on the "common good as a whole" and had to be "fought with the tools of the state under the rule of law."

However, the court said the database needed tighter security and that the data was currently available to too many authorities. Data stored on terrorism suspects includes names, dates of birth, addresses, bank details, religion as well as registered weapons and "skills relevant to terrorism."

The judges also called for Germany's independent data protection authorities to regularly check the database to make sure it kept to the country's strict data regulations.

The German police union (DPolG) said it was relieved at the ruling, which union head Rainer Wendt described in a statement as "a strong signal at the right time."

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich also greeted the ruling and said the database was needed as an important instrument for the state in the fight against terror.

"I think we can be happy that the constitutionality of this law has been upheld," Friedrich told reporters, and pledged to implement the changes the court had ordered.

By extension, the ruling also confirms the legality of another database on far-right extremists - based on the design of the earlier anti-terrorist database - established last year in response to the discovery of the far-right NSU terrorist organisation.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also felt the ruling justified her criticism of the database and greeted the judges' demands for tighter security and limited data collection.

The court repeated critics' concerns that the current system makes it all too easy for innocent people with no links to extremism to end up on the database.

One in five of the over 17,000 people on the database are thought to be just an acquaintance, neighbour or relative of a suspect.

The interior ministry says 84 percent of those they have data on belong to radical Islamic groups abroad thought to have ties to Germany.

DPA/AFP/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germany ranks third in world university list
Students at Munich's LMU. Photo: DPA

Germany ranks third in world university list

German universities have shot up the world's leading higher education rankings, with Germany now having more institutions among the world's best than any other country after the US and UK. READ  

The Local List
Eight expat groups to save you in Germany
Photo: Jan Perlich/Munich RFC

Eight expat groups to save you in Germany

Think you're the only English speaker in your town or region? Think again! The Local List this week runs through eight of the best expat groups and clubs in Germany. READ  

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost
Former GDR political prisoners Hartmut (l) and Gerda Stachowitz in a East Berlin prison which has stood empty for 20 years. Photo: DPA

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost

Benefit payments to former political prisoners of ex-communist East Germany (GDR) will be raised to send an "important message" 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the government said on Wednesday. READ  

Cabinet agrees cap on city rent rises
Apartments in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

Cabinet agrees cap on city rent rises

Germany's cabinet agreed on Wednesday to cap ballooning property rents in high-demand urban neighbourhoods in a law set to come into force early next year. READ  

Berlin flights disrupted by WWII bomb find
Passengers are delayed at Tegel Airport. Photo: DPA

Berlin flights disrupted by WWII bomb find

UPDATE: The discovery of a US World War II bomb disrupted flights at Berlin’s Tegel Airport on Wednesday afternoon, with no flights taking off or landing for 30 minutes. The bomb has now been defused but later flights are still delayed. READ  

Refugee abuse guards 'nicknamed the SS'
A photo allegedly showing guards abusing one refugee. Photo: DPA/Police

Refugee abuse guards 'nicknamed the SS'

A group of guards who allegedly abused refugees in an asylum centre in western Germany were nicknamed “the SS” after Hitler's stormtroopers, according to one of their colleagues. Photos of guards abusing refugees have sparked a backlash in Germany against security firms. READ  

Nestle wins the food prize no one wants
First prize went to Nestle for its sugary baby food. Photo: Foodwatch

Nestle wins the food prize no one wants

A food watchdog presented Nestle with a prize to avoid on Wednesday for the cheekiest false advertising of the year. The runner-up was a chicken soup with no chicken in a vote of almost 160,000 Germans. READ  

Merkel's VIP jet set to fly soldiers home
One of the two A340 planes which are reserved for the Chancellor and government leaders. Photo: DPA

Merkel's VIP jet set to fly soldiers home

One of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s VIP jets is set to be used to ferry soldiers home who are stuck in Afghanistan, due to ongoing problems with the German military’s transport planes. READ  

German firms top EU lobbying list
Siemens was the highest ranked German company when it came to spending on EU lobbying, according to the register. Photo: DPA

German firms top EU lobbying list

Germany companies are among the biggest spenders when it comes to EU lobbying to influence decision makers in Brussels. There are more German lobbying organizations registered than from any other country in Europe but Belgium. READ  

City starts beer for alcoholics project
Photo: DPA

City starts beer for alcoholics project

A city in western Germany will start a controversial project on Wednesday to employ alcohol and drug addicts to clean the streets in return for beer, tobacco, food and small amounts of cash. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Munich
Bavarian independence becomes a reality... (online)
Photo: DPA/Police
National
'Criminals are at work in refugee homes'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Immigrants have created how many German jobs?
Photo: DPA
National
Revealed: Germany's military feet of clay
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Photo: Shutterstock
Society
Quiz: How good is your German?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Thousands take to Berlin's streets for marathon
Photo: DPA
Society
'Incest should be legal,' says ethics board
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten noises that sound very different in German
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: Can you pass the German citizenship test?
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,155
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd