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Germany’s top court restricts state access to online data

Germany's highest court on Friday said security services had too much unfettered access to people's online data and ordered legislation to be revised to set higher hurdles.

Germany's top court restricts state access to online data
Photo: DPA

German intelligence services and police agencies currently have the right to ask telecom and internet companies for user info ranging from names and birth dates to passwords and IP addresses, to help their investigations in areas like counterterrorism and cyber crime.

But the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe agreed with complaints brought by privacy activists that the access to data was excessive and an unconstitutional violation of citizens' right to telecom privacy.

READ ALSO: German medical probe finds millions of records freely available online

In their ruling, judges said the current powers to retrieve data were “disproportionate”.

“It cannot be permissible to indiscriminately request information on data,” they said.

Judges said they agreed that intelligence bodies sometimes needed to pull personal data from smartphones or other devices to maintain public security.

But they said this should only be done in cases of “a specific danger” or “an initial suspicion of criminal conduct” in the context of an investigation, and not to facilitate investigators' work “in general”.

German legislators have until the end of 2021 to amend the telecommunications law to include “thresholds for the use of these powers”.

The ruling comes in response to several lawsuits, including one by Patrick Breyer, an MEP from Germany's Pirate Party that campaigns for internet freedoms.

More than 6,000 people signed a petition backing his complaint.

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INTERNET

Ten German abbreviations that will have you texting like a true native

The modern, simple syntax of text speak is a ‘Handy’ method of communication to cut down time on the complexities of language and to impress your native German friends.

Ten German abbreviations that will have you texting like a true native
Photo: DPA

Notorious for its long compound nouns and complex grammatical system, the German language often receives a bad rap as being difficult to perfect.

However, with the ever-expanding world of social media and smartphones, the language is continually adapting. 

Both Kurzdeutsch (short German) and Netzjargon (internet slang) are on the rise, in line with the ever-expanding, fast-paced world of technology and instant messaging.

READ ALSO: ‘Short German’ text speak spares you from grammar

Our short guide to German text speak will have you chatting online like a local in no time.

Photo: DPA

Bd – Bis dann (‘until then’)

A useful phrase that is an equivalent of ‘see you later’.

kD – kein Ding (‘no problem’) 

Literally meaning ‘no thing’, this phrase can be used when you need to say that something is no bother or no issue.

kA – keine Ahnung (‘no idea’)

An all-important phrase for learners of the tricky German language, kA can stand for ‘keine Ahnung’, or ‘no idea’.

LG – Liebe Grüße (‘Best wishes’ / ‘Kind regards’)

This abbreviation is often used as a sign off at the end of a text message.

vlt/vllt – vielleicht (‘maybe’, ‘possibly’)

A shortened version useful for expressing uncertainty. Germans also use evt or evtl (short for ‘eventuell’) for the same purpose. 

WE – Wochenende (‘weekend’)

This is a helpful phrase to arrange plans or express excitement for that Friday feeling – ‘Wochenende’ is the German word for weekend.

nix – nichts (‘nothing’)

Commonly seen on social media, Germans often shorten the word ‘nichts’ to ‘nix’ online.

Gn8 – Gute Nacht (‘goodnight’)

Perhaps a little outdated now, the German word for the number eight, ‘acht’, can be used in text language to form whole words, similarly to the English use of ‘gr8’.

IRL – im richtigen Leben (‘in real life’)

Equivalent to the English ‘IRL’, this abbreviation is used to denote something in the real world, rather than in the digital one.

hdl – Hab dich lieb (‘love you lots’)

Commonly used among family and close friends, this initialism is used to express love. For a romantic partner, you might see ild (‘Ich liebe dich’ – I love you).

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