Court rules police can confiscate communications
2 March 2006, KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - Police can confiscate mobile phone and email data when investigating minor crimes, Germany's constitutional court ruled Thursday.
2 March 2006
KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - Police can confiscate mobile phone and email data when investigating minor crimes, Germany's constitutional court ruled Thursday.
The court ruled that such information is not governed fully by telecommunications data protection laws once it has reached the recipient and the transmission has ended.
Telecoms data protection laws allow police to confiscate such material only in cases where there is a suspicion of a serious crime having been committed.
Thursday's ruling makes clear that the information is governed only by a person's basic right to determine what information he or she receives.
But police searches and confiscation of such data must be in proportion to the suspected offence, the court said.
The court was ruling on a case brought by a female judge in the city of Heidelberg, whose mobile phone and email data were confiscated by police during a search of her apartment in 2003.
The court ruled that the police action was out of proportion, based on the evidence available to them.
The judge was under suspicion of passing on information to a reporter about investigations into a couple suspected of planning a bomb attack on a US installation in southern Germany.
The judge was cleared and the couple acquitted.
Subject: German news