German Court Tightens Data-Retention Rules

KARLSRUHE, Germany - Germany's highest court ruled this week that previous rules concerning data retention for Internet service providers and telephone companies were problematic but still mandatory.


The Constitutional Court tightened a law that went into effect in December 2007, ordering ISPs and telephone companies to keep various kinds of data, including email addresses and numbers dialed, for at least six months and turn the information over to investigators who request it.


The court, which examined the law after 30,000 Germans filed a class-action lawsuit over concerns that handing over such information so readily could pose privacy threats, found that parts of the law were unconstitutional. While the latest ruling upheld the mandatory retention, it said the records can only be released with a valid search warrant and in the cases of serious crimes.