Germany Plans to Abolish Mass Data Retention

Published · Jan 06, 2022

The German government intends on scrapping mass data retention. If this goes through, its policy will be in line with European and German constitutional rights on privacy.

The German stance on data retention has been back and forth over the past few years. Now, it seems to be heading strongly in the direction of privacy.

Marco Buschmann, the new Federal Minister of Justice, said that indiscriminate data retention is a violation of fundamental rights. His main aim is to abolish this practice as it stands in Germany.

Currently, policies allow data retention for up to several weeks. Instead, Buschmann will push for a “freeze” method. That way, service providers will have to freeze and hold data only when asked to by law enforcement with just cause.

Providers won’t retain information arbitrarily. Instead, law enforcement will have to ask providers to freeze data when it's relevant to an investigation.

The existing provisions only exclude email from the weeks-long retention period.

In other words, currently, only email services don’t have to retain user information.

Crime and Commerce

Data retention advocates argue it's useful for fighting crime. However, companies more often sell data to advertisers. Platforms like Facebook make most of their money from advertising. And advertising is optimized through user information. 

Additionally, commercial services like background checks thrive on data collection. Of course, other companies offer counter solutions like VPNs to those who are uncomfortable with being watched.

This bid by Germany to end broad retention is another link in the trend of Europe pushing for data privacy. Meanwhile, other territories and services seem intent on skirting it

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.