German court protects personal data privacy

There is a right to personal computer privacy in Germany, after all, the country's high court said Wednesday. Data stored or exchanged on PCs are protected by the German constitution, the Federal Constitutional Court, AP reports.

germancourt.jpgThere is a right to personal computer privacy in Germany, after all, the country's high court said Wednesday. Data stored or exchanged on PCs are protected by the German constitution, the Federal Constitutional Court, AP reports.

''Collecting such data directly encroaches on a citizen's rights, given that fear of being observed ... can prevent unselfconscious personal communication,'' presiding judge Hans-Juergen Papier said in his ruling.

''Given the gravity of the intrusion, the secret infiltration of an IT system in such a way that use of the system and its data can be searched can only be constitutionally allowed if clear evidence of a concrete threat to a prominent object of legal protection exists,'' Papier said.

If authorities feel the need to spy on citizen's computers, they would have to - gasp! - get a warrant from a judge. The IT industry supported the ruling. ''Now we have a basis for future debates on security and information technology,'' . Bernhard Rohleder, head of the BITKOM association, said.

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