Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Surveillance Changes Behavior

Data Retention Effectively Changes the Behavior of Citizens in Germany

A recent survey (German) by the well-known German Forsa institute now showed the social effects of this data retention law: Communication habits are indeed changing.

1.003 individuals have been questioned on May 27th and 28th. These are the results:

* 73% know about the data retention
* 11% said that they had already abstained from using phone, cell phone or e-mail in certain occasions
* 6% believe to receive less communication since the beginning of the data retention
* 52% said they probably would not use telecommunication for contacts like drug counselors, psychotherapists or marriage counselors because of data retention

And the sad fact: 48% still think that data retention is a necessary step for crime prevention.

"The deterring effects of this law is life threatening, for example if people do not call a drug counselor or psychotherapist" claims Patrick Breyer of Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung, a network of civil rights and privacy activists.

Thomas Dreesen of the association of German specialized journalists is also worried: “Against the background of [the abuse of communication data by Germany’s largest telephone provide] it is obvious how easily such data can be abused to spy out journalists and expose whistle blowers. The law […] therefore threatens the freedom of press in Germany”

It's not all bad though... If you look at the survey (PDF):

Knapp die Hälfte der Bundesbürger (48 Prozent) hält die sechsmonatige
Speicherung ihrer Verbindungsdaten für eine notwendige Maßnahme zur

Fast ebenso viele (46 Prozent) halten jedoch die Speicherung für einen
unverhältnismäßigen und unnötigen Eingriff in die eigenen Freiheits-

Almost half of the citizens (48%) consider the 6 month retention of their call data a necessary measure due to crime.

Almost as many (46%) consider it a disproportionate and unnecessary violation upon their civil rights and liberties.

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