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Chat control, biometric surveillance, data retention: Major changes of Germany’s positions on EU digital policies

Media reports

Yesterday afternoon, the new German government coalition of SPD, FDP and the Greens presented its coalition agreement to the public. MEP, civil rights activist and lawyer Dr Patrick Breyer of the Pirate Party hails the new positions Germany is taking on EU digital policies:

“Regarding the Digital Services Act negotiations, the new German government says: “The right to anonymity both in public space and on the internet must be guaranteed.” This right needs to become part of the Digital Services Act in order to prevent unauthorised disclosure, identity theft and other forms of abuse of personal data.

The new German government also demands that ‘biometric recognition in public spaces … must be ruled out under European law’. This is great support for an EU-wide ban on biometric mass surveillance and provides important backing for the negotiations on the upcoming AI act.

Germany is likewise speaking out against the EU’s plans for chat control, i.e. the error-prone warrantless screening of all private communications on the Internet. It now supports the ‘right to encryption’. The new government thus sends a clear signal to Ursula von der Leyen and Ylva Johansson to stop the insane plans for chat control on all smartphones, which violate fundamental rights and threaten the secrecy of and trust in digital communications.

Finally Germany wants communications data retention “on an ad hoc basis and by judicial order” only. Commissioner Ylva Johansson should immediately stop her work on bringing back mandatory communications data retention throughout the EU. Such invasive surveillance of unsuspected citizens by collecting sensitive information about their social contacts and movements is totally unacceptable in a free society.

I am looking forward to seeing Germany fight side-by-side with human rights defenders in the future on essential policies.“