The Bundestag has voted in favor of setting up a database to gather information on right-wing extremists. The move follows claims that an investigation into a series of racist killings was marred by police incompetence.
The new database will compile information on right-wing activists who have gone on record for either instigating violence or supporting attacks. Information on informers and possible masterminds of attacks will also be stored. Their names, addresses and dates of birth will all be accessible to investigators on a federal and national level.
More information, including phone and email account details, will be stored and provided only following an application procedure.
Interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich described the new database as a "milestone" in the fight against right-wing extremism.
It is hoped the database will facilitate cooperation between Germany's different security organizations.
The opposition parties, the Leftist Party and the Green Party, voted against the measure because they believe such information storage jeopardizes data protection.
"This could be the beginning of a database that could be used to snoop on anti-fascists too," warned Ulla Jelpke from the Left Party.
The new database was suggested by a parliamentary committee looking into the botched investigation into the crimes of the National Socialist Underground (NSU).
The committee looked into why the police and domestic intelligence services failed to uncover a neo-Nazi group which, it was later discovered, was responsible for the murder of nine foreigners and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007.
It emerged that parallels and connections went undetected mainly because the federal police did not share information and cooperate. After questioning countless witnesses, the inquiry found that the security authorities had failed across the board.
While politicians hope the database will prove to be a major step in the fight against right-wing violence, the parliamentary inquiry is continuing its investigation into why the extremist right-wing involvement in the attacks was more or less brushed aside, despite there being early indications that this was the case.
rg/tm (dpa, DAPD)