SHARE
COPY LINK

COURT

Court slams German spies’ foreign internet surveillance

The foreign intelligence service violated the constitution by spying on internet data from foreigners abroad, Germany's top court ruled Tuesday in a victory for overseas journalists who brought the case.

The BND agency's surveillance violates “the fundamental right to privacy of telecommunications” and freedom of the press, judges at the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said in their verdict.

But given the “great importance” of foreign surveillance to German security, the court gave the BND until the end of 2021 to change its practices to comply with the law.

The ruling marked the first time the  Constitutional Court clearly stated that the BND must respect fundamental rights accorded by the constitution even when operating abroad.

German intelligence services are already not allowed to monitor the internet traffic of Germans in such a vast way.

The case was brought by journalists and civil society groups who were outraged after the BND was granted sweeping new powers to carry out “strategic telecommunications surveillance” under amended legislation in 2016.

This allowed the BND to tap into internet traffic from non-Germans abroad, often through monitoring the use of keywords, phone numbers or email addresses, and to share this information with other secret services.

One of the plaintiffs, Reporters Without Borders, argued that this allowed the agency to spy on journalists “almost without restrictions”.

“The big victory is that German authorities cannot get out of their constitutional obligations by going abroad and working there,” said Nora Markard from the GFF Society for Civil Rights, another of the co-plaintiffs.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COURT

Why an ‘old’ man is taking on German nightclubs’ door policies in court

Bouncers at German nightclubs are legendary for their reluctance to let too many people through the door. A Munich man is now taking one club to court for turning him away based on his age.

Why an ‘old’ man is taking on German nightclubs' door policies in court
Inside a night club in Berlin. Photo: DPA

In a case that could have an impact on clubs up and down the country, 47-year-old Nils Kratzer is challenging a nightclub’s door policy in the Federal Court in Karlsruhe on Thursday, arguing that a bouncer’s decision to turn him away at the door was discriminatory.

The incident occurred when Kratzer tried to get into an open air club night on the Praterinsel, a small island on the river Isar in Munich in 2017.

“I’ve never had anyone tell me to my face that I’m too old for a festival,” Kratzer said before the hearing. “On the contrary, I’ve often gone to festivals nationwide with my friends in the past and all ages have been represented.”

READ ALSO: ‘Alone Together’: How I had an unexpected night out at a German online bar

The club makes no bones about the fact that it told its bouncers to discriminate at the door, but argues that this was based on “optics” and not on age. It argues that, given that there was only space for 1,500 guests, it needed to discriminate on some grounds.

If Kratzer were to win the case, which he is basing on anti-discrimination laws introduced in 2006, it would force all German night clubs to review their door policies, as a ruling by a federal court sets a legal precedent.

But Kratzer has already failed to convince a Munich city court and a Bavarian state court of his case. At the Munich city court, he called his younger girlfriend to testify in order to establish his youthfulness.

Nils Kratzer. Photo: DPA

He also complained that Munich clubs have a culture of discrimination at their doors, saying one had turned him away for being a man, while he had also witnessed people being turned away based on their skin colour.

“Not all unequal treatment is discrimination,” argues Sandra Warden from the German Hotel and Restaurant Association. “Event organisers are free to decide whom they let in. The host’s right to decide is protected in our country.”

Warden said that clubs often discriminate based on age, such as at Ü-30 parties, ones where only people over the age of 30 are allowed to enter.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

SHOW COMMENTS