German parliament rushes through new data retention law

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The German parliament rushed through a new law on data retention on Friday, reintroducing controversial guidelines on the mass storage of the internet and telecommunications activity of citizens.

German telecommunications providers will be obliged to store the IP addresses of computers and data on telephone calls made for up to 10 weeks under the new guidelines intended to help security services catch terrorists and serious criminals.

Location coordinates from mobile phones will be stored for up to four weeks.

Previous data retention guidelines had been quashed by Germany’s Constitutional Court, and EU rules brought in in 2006 were also struck down by the European Court of Justice in April 2014 which said they violated basic liberties.

Critics of the new guidelines say they are illegal under the constitution and absolutely disproportionate to the threat posed by terrorism and organized crime.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas defended the guidelines, saying in the lower house, or Bundestag, on Friday that they may be an intrusion into people’s digital privacy, but they were commensurate.

Unlike the previous guidelines, he argued, they involve less data being stored for shorter periods and the hurdles that had to be crossed to gain access to the data were higher.

Maas insisted the new guidelines were completely within the law.

A group of around 130 protesters, including opposition politicians, gathered outside the parliamentary building in central Berlin with a huge telescope and banners with slogans like “No to see-through citizens” to protest the new guidelines.

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