• Germany's news in English

State police gain power to cut mobile network

The Local · 18 Dec 2012, 12:50

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

Story continues below…

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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.
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