German interior ministry wants to diminish citizens’ data privacy rights

Proposed privacy rules better than last draft but still awful—union for data protection.

Germany is planning a “data protection prevention law” that will reduce dramatically the powers of the country’s privacy watchdogs—the German union for data protection has warned.

It’s based on the interior ministry’s draft version of a new data protection law, which the union is worried would greatly curtail data protection in Germany.

According to Deutsche Welle, “the bill would limit the government’s own data protection commissioners to checking that the technical prerequisites are in place to ensure that doctors’ and lawyers’ files are secure, but it stops them from following up when citizens report concerns that their data has been leaked.”

Former data protection commissioner for the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Thilo Weichert, argued that the limitation of data protection controls in the medical field was “simply a disaster.”

Another significant aspect of the draft law was pointed out by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to the proposed legislation, firms wouldn’t need to reveal what personal data they had collected if doing so “would seriously jeopardise the business purposes of a company.”

In addition, Deutsche Welle says the draft means the German government would deny people the basic right to know what personal data is being collected about them if “the release of the data endangers public safety and order, or disadvantages the well-being of the country, or the state in another way.”

The German union for data protection said this right was the “Magna Carta of data protection,” and insisted that “arguments based on security and protection of business and business secrets violate the fundamental constitutional right to data protection.”

Although the union was generally critical of the draft law, which aims to implement the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation, it did admit that it was an improvement over the previous version. If the final legislation imposes new limits on the activity of data protection commissioners, it could have an adverse knock-on effect throughout the EU. Germany is generally regarded as one of the bellwethers in this field, and its moves could be copied by other governments.

Via: Ars Technica