Friday, February 29, 2008

German Constitutional Court recognises a new right of "Confidentiality and Integrity of Computer Systems"

On 27 February the German Constitutional Court issued what's being described as a landmark ruling which recognises a new fundamental right of privacy, confidentiality and integrity in computer systems. The case was brought to challenge a law which, amongst other things, permitted government agencies to hack into computer systems, for example by using a Trojan Horse to monitor suspects' internet use. The reasoning of the Court was based on its finding that computer systems will often contain information presenting a complete picture of a person's most private life:
[Computer systems] alone or in their technical interconnectedness can contain personal data of the affected person in a scope and multiplicity such that access to the system makes it possible to get insight into relevant parts of the conduct of life of a person or even gather a meaningful picture of the personality.
Ralf Bendrath has detailed analysis of the decision and its background. Meanwhile, the IPKat suggests that this may have implications for the use of privacy invasive DRM and for disclosure of information held by ISPs in civil cases.

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