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German Journalists Unions Say Proposed Data Retention Law Threatens Privacy

Journalists’ organizations in Germany, Deutscher Journalisten-Verband (DJV) and Deutsche Journalistinnen-und Journalisten-Union (DJU) stand against the draft data retention law, stating that it would violate their right to protect confidential sources, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) said Thursday.

 The proposed legislation, unveiled by German government Wednesday, would oblige telecom and Internet operators, including social networking sites and online messengers, to store customers’ traffic and location data for up to ten weeks for national security purposes. The measure is aimed to help German law enforcers fight terrorism and serious crime, but journalists argue that it can lead to violations of privacy rights and severely impede their work.

“If the draft law is adopted, it will make the work of journalists impossible. It is clear in the latest decision of the European Court of Justice that data retention law as such violates the rights of professional secrecy and privacy,” Michael Konken, the chairman of DJV said as quoted by the EFJ.

According to Konken, even though the draft law provides certain exceptions for data related to professional secrecy, the definitions are too vague and it is unclear how exactly the journalists, lawyers and doctors will be protected.