eco Criticises Draft Law on Data Retention Presented by Hesse in Germany

The agreement reached by the German traffic light coalition on the so-called “Quick Freeze” procedure for Internet investigations is met with a counter-proposal in the German Federal Council. In this context, the Hessian state government reaffirms its intention to present its own draft law on data retention.

The “black-red” government in Hesse is thus implementing a plan from the coalition agreement to introduce an obligation to retain IP addresses regardless of suspicion. The Hessian Minister-President Boris Rhein (CDU) and Justice Minister Christian Heinz (CDU) presented an initiative to this effect on 19 April. According to the proposal, providers are to retain Internet identifiers for one month without cause. Law enforcement and security authorities such as the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) should be able to access this data, primarily for combatting serious crime and terrorism. However, the draft also provides for measures to prosecute less serious crimes.

While the German federal government has just agreed on the “Quick Freeze” approach to freeze connection and location data for criminal prosecution in case of suspicion, the Federal Minister of the Interior and Community, Nancy Faeser (SPD), who comes from Hesse, continues to support the retention of IP addresses.

For eco, the current developments regarding the “Quick Freeze” procedure are a step in the right direction. However, they regret that the German federal government has not yet made a consistent effort to repeal data retention. If this were to continue or be carried on under a rebranded name, whether at the federal or state level, it would be disastrous. It is time for the government to assume its responsibility and seriously protect civil rights in the digital realm. The Association of the Internet Industry calls for a clear and comprehensive repeal of data retention to ensure the privacy of citizens. It is also essential that affected companies quickly receive clarity about the planned new regulations and data retention in order to avoid legal uncertainty.