• Germany's news in English
 

German terror list breaks privacy rules: court

Published: 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
Could Europe have ‘border-less’ internet?

Could Europe have ‘border-less’ internet?

The European Commission presented a plan for making the internet and digital content more ‘border-free’ on Wednesday, suggesting ways to loosen up restrictions that often see music, movies and other services blocked when users travel across borders. But could such a plan succeed? READ  

Germany sees drastic rise in racist crime
A refugee home was burned down in April 2015. Photo: DPA

Germany sees drastic rise in racist crime

Crime figures released by the Interior Ministry on Wednesday showed sharp rises in xenophobic crimes in 2014, with anti-Semitism and attacks on refugee homes causing particular alarm. READ  

Daredevil pensioner in reckless road rampage
Need for speed - not the man or vehicle in question. Photo: DPA

Daredevil pensioner in reckless road rampage

Police in Meschede, western Germany, were astonished when a car overtook them on the wrong side of a state road, only to discover that the dangerous driver was 76 years old. READ  

Doctor acquitted in organ donation scandal
The prosecution team in Göttingen. Photo:DPA

Doctor acquitted in organ donation scandal

A court in Göttingen acquitted a doctor on Wednesday of charges of attempted manslaughter after he had manipulated patients' data to push them up the organ transplant list. READ  

Not forever young, but a champion at 85
Melitta Czerwenka-Nagel. Photo:DPA

Not forever young, but a champion at 85

Long-distance runner Melitta Czerwenka-Nagel has broken so many world records she's stopped counting. And at the age of 85 she's not lowering her sights. READ  

Champions League
Pep returns home for Champions League clash
The eyes of the world on the former Barca coach. Photo: DPA

Pep returns home for Champions League clash

FC Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola is preparing for his grand homecoming on Wednesday, as the newly crowned German champions travel to Barcelona for a Champions League semi final. READ  

Tornado devastates north German town
A firefighter and a local man clear up bricks in central Bützow. Photo: DPA

Tornado devastates north German town

People in the small town of Bützow, northern Germany, saw their community ripped apart on Tuesday night by a tornado that injured 31 people and smashed buildings. READ  

Police grab four in raids on far-right group
An SEK (Swat) team in Frankfurt on exercise. Photo: DPA

Police grab four in raids on far-right group

German police arrested four people on Wednesday accused of belonging to a far-right "terror" organisation that acquired explosives for attacks on Muslims and refugee homes, the federal prosecutor's office said. READ  

Germany has uphill battle to fight racism
People demonstrate against racism outside a mosque in Duisburg. Photo: DPA

Germany has uphill battle to fight racism

German government representatives admitted to a United Nations (UN) committee on Tuesday that the country had a long way to go in stamping out racism. READ  

BND Scandal
Spying scandal disrupts cosy coalition
Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (l) and Chancellor Angela Merkel (r). Photo: DPA

Spying scandal disrupts cosy coalition

A widening scandal over claims Germany helped the US spy on European targets triggered tensions in Angela Merkel's coalition Tuesday, which analysts said could potentially prove dangerous for the "untouchable" Chancellor. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
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

7,246
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd
?>