Berlin mulls tracking data on foreign visitors

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11 Feb, 2009 Updated Wed 11 Feb 2009 17:38 CEST
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German residents who have frequent guests from outside the EU could find themselves monitored by the government if a newly proposed measure to combat visa abuse is passed, daily Frankfurter Rundschau reported on Wednesday.

The legislation is “new territory,” domestic policy expert for the Social Democrats (SPD) Dieter Wiefelspütz told the paper, adding that the “outcome, however, is clear.”

If the law is passed, people and organisations who have more than five non-European visitors requiring visas within a period of two years will have a “repeat host warning” registered with German visa offices, the paper said. The information would be saved for three years. Grand coalition partner parties the centre-left SPD and conservative Christian Democrats (SPD) aim to fight the illegal trade of visas, black market labour and human trafficking with the measure.

But privacy advocates and opposition parties are alarmed by the plans, which would allow police, customs officials, the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), employment agencies and social welfare offices to access the information.

“We find the sweeping storage of host data questionable,” the federal government's data protection commissioner Dietmar Müller told the paper, adding that it’s “an attack on informational right of self-determination.”

The German cabinet plans to address the proposed law on March 4.

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2009/02/11 17:38

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