Data retention laws are popular among politicians. Having these laws they can show the public that they do all they can to protect their citizens from all kinds of crimes, for instance terrorism. While studies show that data retention is useless when it comes to solving crimes (German article), they still soothe the public into a wrong sense of security while in fact doing more harm than good.
The worst part of this is that politicians know about the implications of such laws. They know that German's previous law on data retention has been ruled unconstitutional for a good reason. Privacy and freedom of speech are cornerstones of our modern democratic societies. No one, not even German politicians, want to go back to totalitarian practices common in the former German Democratic Republic. Yet, a data retention law is a first step into that direction. As a compromise the current draft does not include the retention of any email data because email is considered as a mass communication tool used by innocent people. While it is good that emails are exempt from this legislation, we don't see in what way phone calls are not a mass communication tool used by innocent people.
Thus, we hope that the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany will rule the next data retention law unconstitutional as well, if the bill is being passed.
A data retention law puts every citizen under surveillance. In consequence all of us are treated like criminals. We would never accept that the state puts a camera into every kitchen to monitor our dinner talks, but many people seem to accept having their online and phone connections monitored. A German comment by Jörg Breihut asked right after the Snowden revelations in 2013: "Wo bleibt der Aufschrei?" (Where is the outcry?)
Now, it is up to us to tell the politicians to stop this madness of monitoring innocent people. We enjoy living in a free society and we really want it to stay that way.
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