Germany passes mandatory data retention laws

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Germany passes mandatory data retention laws

Legislation excludes emails.

The German parliament has followed Australia's footsteps by passing new mandatory data retention law late last week, following a long debate over whether the legislation infringes human rights. 

Under the new law, telcos are required to keep data on the time and duration of telephone calls, along with the IP addresses users connect to, for up to 10 weeks.  

Location data from mobile phones will also be stored, but only for four weeks, while all data centres storing the metadata will have to be located in Germany. 

Carriers will be forbidden from storing the content of communications, and email traffic is also excluded.  

The debate over the law created tensions between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives (CDU) and its coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), while opposition parties argued the law violates human rights. 

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the new legislation would give police an "additional tool" to help fight the most serious crimes. 

"It is proportionate because less data will be stored, we will save data for a much shorter period and because access to the data has been made significantly harder," Mass said. 

Last year, an EU court overthrew a law that required telcos to store metadata for up to two years on the grounds it infringed human rights. 

In 2010, Germany's constitutional court also blocked a law requiring metadata to be stored for six months. 

The vote occurred in the same week mandatory data retention laws came into force in Australia.  

However, the Attorney-General's Department has approved requests by many carriers, including Telstra, for an extension to the compliance deadline for their data retention obligations. 

Privacy is a particularly sensitive issue in Germany because of the surveillance by the Gestapo in the Nazi era and East Germany's Stasi secret police during the Cold War.

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