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BKA chief Münch rejects allegations

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017 | World News

BKA's President Holger Münch said that the Federal Criminal Police Office had rejected allegations of illegal data storage, even if the unjustified withdrawals of four journalists at the G20 summit in Hamburg were very regrettable.

"Such an interference with press freedom must not happen," said Münch. However, it is not justified to question the whole system of data storage because of individual errors.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, one of the four cases involved a substitution of persons, in other cases data were not wrongly erased or an acquittal was not noted. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert announced to invite the concerned journalists to apologize to them. The events at the G20 summit raised the urgent question of how such cases of unjustified withdrawal of accreditations could be avoided in the future.

  Münch further said that neither the BKA nor the police authorities of the countries stored massively data of unscrupulous citizens. He admitted, however, that data would not be deleted, for example, in the case of an acquittal or the cessation of criminal proceedings. This is the case only with proven innocence. In addition, the prosecutors would often not inform the police of the reasons for terminating proceedings. "This is a weak spot that needs to be eliminated."

Minister of the Interior sees the debt of the Minister of Justice
In this context, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) dismissed allegations of Justice Minister Heiko Maas (SPD). He told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung", exclaimed that the Ministry of Justice had in the past a better data exchange to avoid such errors prevented. The former acquittal of one of the journalists had not been reported by the judiciary. "Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case, and the Federal Ministry of Justice has known this for years," he said.

 The Greens in the Bundestag requested on Friday a special meeting of the internal committee "on the erroneous and unlawfully stored data". The German Association of Journalists (DJV) also confirmed the need for a special meeting of the Internal Committee. Left-faction-leader Jan Korte called it "unacceptable" that Münch denied the fundamental problem further.

During the G20 summit in early July, a total of 32 journalists were retrospectively withdrawn from the already granted accreditation. Nine journalists complain before the Berlin Administrative Court and want to make it clear that the measure was unlawful. Above all, data should have been stored illegitimately, even though they should have been deleted.

Data protection officers see a fundamental problem
Former data protection officer Peter Schaar objected to Münch's assessment that there were no fundamental problems with data storage. "There is a huge problem," he told the Berlin newspaper. In the police area, data would be stored to a considerable extent, which should not have entered the files.

According to Münch, there are different deadlines for the deletion of data. In the case of serious offenses, the relevant examination is usually carried out after ten years, in the case of minor offenses after one year and in the case of medium-term offenses after five years. During these tests, 90 percent of all data would be deleted. However, the deadlines can also be extended.

ARD searches showed that 109,625 people and more than a million data sets on political offenses are currently stored in the BKA case of internal security.

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