Criticism Raised Concerning Proposed Expansion of Constitutional Protection Powers

In a Bundestag hearing on May 17 2021, Ralf Poscher commented on the federal government's draft bill to amend and expand the Federal Constitutional Protection Act. Through the legislative proposal, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community is seeking to better combat right-wing extremism and terrorism.

Among other things, the bill proposes amendments to the Act on Restrictions on the Secrecy of Mail, Post and Telecommunications, also known as the G-10 Act. One especially sensitive point is the planned expansion of the possibilities for source telecommunica­tion surveillance (TKÜ). In particular, this provides that, in the future, it will not only be possible to access ongoing communications but also so-called quiescent communications, i.e., data already stored on terminal devices.

According to Poscher, these powers of intervention are “particularly serious new types of encroachment on fundamental rights.” In his opinion before the Bundestag, the legal scholar points to the “conflict between IT security and the protection of the constitu­tion.” For him, it is questionable whether the benefits of online searches outweigh the risks. Legislators need to think carefully about “whether to further expand instruments that are also largely based on the concealment of security vulnerabilities (...) and possess immense damage potential.”

Ralf Poscher is director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law. He heads the Department of Public Law.