Volkszählungsurteil

“People-counting judgment,” the census decision made by the German constitutional court in the 1980’s. An online article I found on the history of Germany’s strongest interest in Datenschutz und Datensicherheit (data protection and data security) explained that country’s aversion to census-taking from a historical perspective. The Nazis took an infamous census of “greater German” territories in the 1930’s that collected data used to kill people later, supposedly with the aid of early computing machines. Later generations of Germans, especially the authority-questioning “1968 generation,” were early adopters of fears about the way a fact that is harmless in one context may become dangerous in another, meaning there is no longer such a thing as a harmless datum. It was and is the combination of mandatory registration with the local government of your residence and contact data, which all German residents still have to do, and a proposed resumption of census taking that set off the large protests against a census in Germany. Eventually the German constitutional court issued its decision reaffirming the first sentence of the German Civil Code, the right to human dignity, and saying control and protection of one’s information was protected by that right.

My source said the logic and humanity of the court’s granting of this protection, and seeing that the state obeyed the court’s decision and canceled the census, calmed the fears of the 1968 generation of antifaschist protesters and did a great deal to integrate them into civil society, which they now control.

(Folks TSAY loongs oor tile.)

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