Civil rights groups slam German intelligence policies post-Snowden | News | DW | 22.05.2015
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Civil rights groups slam German intelligence policies post-Snowden

The German state is undermining constitutional civil rights, according to a report by eight civil rights groups in Germany. No lessons had been learned two years after the Snowden revelations, it claims.

Deutschland BND Abhörskandal Symbolbild

Karl-Henning Seemann's sculpture "The listening" stands outside Freiburg's Music College

The 19th annual "Basic Rights Report," which was presented in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe on Friday, claims that basic civil rights were being undermined in an "increasingly uninhibited" way.

Constanze Kurz, spokeswoman for the Chaos Computer Club and one of the authors of the report, said that even two years on from the revelations of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, politicians in Germany "had done nothing" to curtail wiretapping and other surveillance activities.

Fellow author Rolf Gössner even claims that "instead of a curtailing of the surveillance apparatus of the BND, it is even being boosted…"

The report says the state is "endangering the constitution" by continually undermining basic rights such as the right to privacy, with the only difference to two years ago being that the public is now aware of that fact.

The BND - Germany's foreign intelligence agency - has been the subject of heated debate after revelations that it cooperated with its US counterpart, the NSA, beyond what had been agreed by the two countries. Apparently, the NSA had regularly used the BND's help to spy on European targets.

The report, which has been published annually since 1997, is being called an "alternative report on the protection of the constitution" - an expression that in German signifies intelligence operations as well as the protection of basic rights.

TTIP criticized

The report also criticizes the planned transatlantic free trade agreement with the US - dubbed TTIP - for considering a clause that would allow corporations to sue governments using arbitrators, or independent judges. The report says the clause would "jeopardize the democratic capabilities of the legislature."

Among the eight groups involved in the report are the Humanists' Union, a charity focused on migration called Pro Asyl, several law experts' associations and the International League for Human Rights.

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