Frank Spaeing

Jeopardy for changing laws

Do you enjoy Jeopardy? The game show giving you answers as clues to finding the underlying question, with the chance of winning a lot of money?

On 29.05.2017 of this week the Federal government and the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) administration extended invitations to an event they organised. The skilfully selected framework included a hearing of the Ausschuss für Soziales und Arbeit [Work and Social Issues Commission]: Basic rules on data protection were an unlikely topic here. The official topic was the amendment of the Federal War Victims Relief Act and other laws, BT printed matter 18/12041. The official documentation did appear harmless: Amendments to pension benefits. The list of invited experts , however, was surprising: apart from a representative of the German Federation of Trade Unions we find the Zentralverband des Deutschen Bäckerhandwerks e.V. [Central Association of German Bakers], the Bundesagentur für Arbeit [Federal Employment Agency], the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, the Verband der Kolping-Bildungsunternehmen Deutschland e.V., the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der überörtlichen Träger der Sozialhilfe e.V. [Federal Association of Supra-regional Social Welfare Agencies], etc.

The invited experts obviously had more documents than those made available to the average citizen via the pages of the Bundestag administration. The published position papers offered a first glimpse. Amendments to the Social Security Code, the Fiscal Code etc. were not, however, included in the documents officially furnished for the committee meeting on the statutory amendments.

Interested citizens could therefore refer to statements by the BfDI, [Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information] staff and the Hamburg representative for data protection and freedom of information for clues on the formulations the Federal legislator might currently be addressing in his legislative procedure. The fact that these two representatives of the data protection supervisory authority described the envisaged limitation of rights of persons affected under the fiscal code as non-compliant with GDPR is disturbing. The fact that immediate enforcement of BfDI orders following data protection violations should evidently be suspended under both laws – SGB X [Social Security Code X] and AO [Fiscal Code] – is virtually as expected. Changes to working hours for bakers on Sundays and holidays were also on the table, but then also capture, storage and access to asylum seeker fingerprints. The digital draft of the  verbatim record  has already been published.

The Committee on internal affairs will now discuss the law on 31.05.2017 as TOP 3 – remains to be seen whether the Bundestag administration will by then establish minimum transparency and publish the legislative text.

We will otherwise once again attempt to fathom Federal law amendments by analysing the questions the committees debated. Yet we will not gain anything from this.

Author:
Rudi Kramer, Deputy Chairman of the BvD [Association of Data Protection Officers of Germany]

 

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