German constitutional court hearing on data retention

On December 15, there will be a court hearing by the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) on the law on data retention which was enacted in 2007 and has been valid since January 1st, 2008.

This law requires any communications network operator to keep digital records of every voice call and e-mail, including sender and all recipient addresses.

This law was required by the European Union Directive 2006/24/EG, one of those paranoid reactions against the perceived threat of terrorism. Laws implementing this directive in the EU members Romania and Bulgaria have already been invalidated by their respective constitutional court.

In Germany, more than 34,000 (I'm not kidding) people have filed a constitutional complaints against this law. This is the first time that such a significant number of individual citizens has ever made constitutional complaint. Only the documents about power of attorney have filled 12 large boxes, each with many folders. As you could probably guess by now, I'm one of those plaintiffs.

As an interim solution, the constitutional court has already decided on March 19, 2008 that such data can only be used under special circumstances, such as only certain criminal offenses, and only if there is already a very strong initial suspicion, and if there is close to no other way to prove or deny the allegations brought forward by the prosecutor.

I hope the court hearing on December 15 will bring the court closer to actually ruling on this case. This has been dragging on for a long time now.

Just like when the constitutional court had a hearing on voting computers, I am planning to be in the audience and want to see live what the constitutional court does with regard to matters that I strongly care about. I hope my registration will make it in time... given the number of plaintiffs I suppose there will be many more people interested in attending the hearing than they have space. Which raises another interesting issue: I suppose if you are an actual plaintiff, it would be weird if a court refuses you to be at the actual hearing. But which court would hold > 34.000 plaintiffs? ;)