• Germany's news in English

Official raises doubts over data privacy in Germany

DDP/The Local · 28 Dec 2008, 10:51

Published: 28 Dec 2008 10:51 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

According to Schaar, the perpetual scandals of the past year have been very troubling. “You almost get the impression that everyone in the country has been the victim of data abuse,” he told news agency DDP in an interview this weekend. “Every day, huge masses of data about us is saved - when we make phone calls, when we use the internet, on video cameras. I think it's quite disturbing that big companies don't take data protection seriously at all.”

Schaar believes that the line between the legal and illegal sharing of data has become increasingly blurred: “Companies explore the full extent of the legal limits, and occasionally they cross them. In most cases you can't tell if data has come from legal or illegal sources.”

But Schaar did find it encouraging that there seems to be a cross-party consensus that private life should be better protected in Germany. “I'm thinking particularly of the proposed amendment to the data protection law, which will require more transparency in the scoring of credit ratings,” he told DDP.

Nevertheless, the commissioner had profound reservations about the controversial amendment to a new anti-terror law, which finally passed parliament this month. It gives federal police the power to trawl through the population's personal data in search of terrorist suspects. The police now have “many new capacities that change the character of their work,” Schaar said. “The tendency towards valuing safety above freedom continues.”

Story continues below…

Schaar also pointed out that many new bills are being passed on the grounds that they will help fight international terrorism, without evidence that they do. He warned, “Before new freedom-restricting rules are put into place, we should check whether the current measures actually do what they said they would. In my opinion, some things have gone too far and others are superfluous.”

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd