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German Bundestag: Posteo statement on privacy

Created at 13.March 2015, 16:15 | Category: Blog

Dear Posteo users, 

As of today you can find a statement from Posteo on the topic of “Privacy in the digital world” at Our vice president of communications, Dean Ceulic, was a guest expert on the committee for the German parliament’s digital agenda. The topic of the discussion was “Startups, small to medium-sized businesses and privacy in the digital world”. In addition, we were asked to provide written replies to a list of questions that the various fractions prepared prior to the discussion. Our statement is now available on the Bundestag website (in German). 
The discussion itself is available as a video at (in German).

An overview of the most important points for us

On German and European privacy standards:

We emphasised that strict German and European privacy regulations do not stand in the way of the economy. The opposite is true: European companies can use stricter privacy regulations to their advantage, protecting themselves (for example, from American competitors) using sophisticated privacy measures. Stricter privacy standards do not inhibit innovation; they actually constitute a competitive advantage for European companies. This view is shared by an overwhelming majority of the experts who took part in the discussion.

We criticise the German government’s current plans to weaken the high German and European privacy standards:

“Germany’s high standards for privacy have become a relevant factor for a company’s location, and should not be given up lightly. The principles of data reduction and purposeful use strengthen consumers’ trust in German companies and help strengthen citizens’ fundamental right to informational self-determination.”

We therefore demanded that the law stipulates that personal information can only be processed if allowed by law and with the affected party’s consent.

On data preservation, we stated the following: 
“Sensitive metadata such as IP addresses, for example, are currently under special protection in Germany. Connection and traffic data (such as IP addresses) must also be under special protection on a European level, as their evaluation enables compilation of extensive personality profiles. In particular, the retention of data should be opposed, as this severely impairs citizens’ fundamental rights according to several of the highest law courts.” 

On data economy and purposeful use:

 The German government will in future consider the principles of data reduction and purposeful use when handling data.

We engaged ourselves with maintaining both of these fundamental privacy principles, stating:

“When handling data, the principles of data reduction and purposeful use strengthen not only the citizens’ fundamental right to informational determination. Both factors also give companies a clear course of action and minimise uncertainties as to how they collect and process data – in particular also amongst one another.”

On the relationship between fundamental rights and security interests:

We emphasised that there is no conflict between objectives in security interests and the effective protection of citizens’ privacy. In a constitutional state, both poles should be in a far more balanced relationship with each other:

“To further strengthen democracy in the digital world, it is essential to restore a more balanced relationship between both poles. International, comprehensive surveillance activities by intelligence agencies can only be countered with measures for encryption, data economy and anonymisation. This is in the interest of citizens – as well as in the interest of companies and authorities.” 

Best regards,

The Posteo team