The European Commission has launched legal action against Germany, which has not implemented rules on data surveillance and storage that are supposed to cover the entire bloc. The justice ministry says they go too far.
The European Commission told the government in Berlin on Thursday that it should pay a fine for not implementing a new EU law allowing authorities to store Internet activity and telephone records for all civilians for a six-month period.
The rule stems from 2006, but was subsequently overturned in Germany. The Constitutional Court ruled in 2010 that the earlier version of the law was not compatible with the country's constitution and individual rights to privacy. The EU had issued an April 30 deadline for Germany to come up with an alternative solution.
The Commission is now demanding over 315,000 euros (around $390,000) for every day that passes since that deadline, until the government implements a satisfactory law. That equates to roughly 9.5 million euros per month.
The universal storage of data for monitoring is supposed to help combat crime and terrorism.
Since the constitutional court ruling, the German justice and interior ministries have been locked in debate on how to frame a new version of the law.
Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger opposes the rule, saying that a six-month period is too long to hold such data - arguing this should only be permitted in cases where there is concrete cause for suspicion. She is a member of the liberalist and pro-business Free Democrats, the junior coalition partners in Chancellor Merkel's government.
Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, from the ranks of Merkel's Christian Democrats, supports the legislation, saying it is necessary to help law enforcement and security services.
One suggestion proposed by Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, but rejected by Friedrich and the EU Commission, was that all data be stored for a one-week period.
msh/rc (AFP, dapd, dpa)