A draft law released by the German union for data protection (DVD) this week revealed that the interior ministry was proposing to drastically limit the powers of Germany's data protection authorities, banning them from investigating suspected breaches of people's medical and legal records.
As well as expanding video surveillance with facial recognition software, the bill would limit the government's own data protection commissioners to checking that the technical prerequisites are in place to ensure that doctors' and lawyers' files are secure, but it stops them from following up when citizens report concerns that their data has been leaked.
The bill would also shut down citizens' right to know what data is being collected about them - even by private firms, if releasing that information would "seriously endanger" a company's "business purposes," the SZ quoted the draft as saying. Thilo Weichert, former data protection commissioner for the state of Schleswig-Holstein and now DVD board member, condemned de Maiziere's plans as a "massive" erosion of privacy in Germany.
"The limitation of data protection controls in the medical field, which was a focal point of the [data protection] authorities up until now, is simply a disaster," Weichert said in a statement, adding that the ministry's bill was "further proof" that "data protection is not currently seen as relevant by the government."
DVD chairman Frank Spaeing described the law as a "data protection prevention law" and called on the Justice and Consumer Affairs Ministry, the Economics Ministry, and the Science and Research Ministry to intervene on behalf of people's civil rights.
The law - which aims to implement European Union data protection directives, set to come into force in 2018 - was roundly condemned by the DVD, though it acknowledged that it was an improvement on previous drafts that the Interior Ministry had presented.
"And yet the draft [...