Grundrechte-Report

Fundamental rights report, an annual critique of the treatment of burgher rights and human rights guaranteed by Germany’s constitution. The report is published by eight human rights organizations, including Pro Asyl [For Asylum], Humanistische Union [Humanist Union], Neue Richtervereinigung [New Association of Judges] and the Republikanische Anwältinnen und Anwälteverein [Republican Attorneys Association]. The 2014 edition consists of 42 essays and is sold in bookstores.

Süddeutsche Zeitung reminds us that these basic German human rights include “personality rights, the right to free expression of opinion, letter secrecy, postal secrecy and the right to asylum.”

(GROONED rechh tah   ray PORT.)

G10-Kommission

A Bundestag committee whose four members, not mandatorily Bundestag members, are appointed by the Bundestag’s intelligence-agencies-monitoring parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium. The G10 committee monitors compliance with the German constitution’s requirement for individuals’ rights to letter secrecy [Briefgeheimnis], postal secrecy [Postgeheimnis] and telecommunications secrecy [Fernmeldegeheimnis].

The G10 committee supposedly must approve each surveillance or search of German citizens’ phones or computers by Germany’s intelligence agencies, which can only be possible if such surveillance is done on a very small scale. In July 2013, Spiegel-Online wrote that only 156 surveillance actions were approved by the G10 committee in 2011. And that the foreign intelligence service BND is permitted to ask for broadly-defined surveillance that is not however allowed to exceed 20% of the information out there and usually supposedly hovers at only 5%.

(Gay TSAYN comb eess y own.)

NSA-Untersuchungsausschuss

N.S.A. investigative committee of the Bundestag, which began meeting on 03 Apr 2014.

The committee’s chair is Clemens Binninger (C.D.U.), a former policeman.

It is tasking itself with investigating the involvement of German police and intelligence agencies—domestic, foreign and military—in the massive spying on people and companies that is now known to have been done by the U.S. and U.K. governments and their contractors.

Also it will now be investigating Germany’s culpability in the U.S.’s drone wars. Since the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) and Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) reported that the U.S. is using its Ramstein airbase inside Germany to support drone attacks in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, violating international law while killing hundreds of civilians, Germany’s government (C.D.U./C.S.U. + S.P.D.) can no longer pretend they don’t know this is happening.

The committee repeated that they would like Edward Snowden and other informed whistleblowers to give statements and answer questions for these Bundestag inquiries. Journalists repeated that the whole world will be watching this inquiry to see what the committee discovers and which stones they leave unturned.

Update on 09 Apr 2014: Clemens Binninger stepped down as chair of the N.S.A. investigative committee after only six days. He said he was resigning from the position because he felt people from the opposition parties were too interested in hearing from N.S.A. whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Update on 10 Jul 2014: A Spiegel article about Germans’ angry responses to spying by the U.S. mentioned that Clemens Binninger is chairing the Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium, the secret Bundestag committee supposed to monitor Germany’s intelligence agencies.

(Enn ess ah   oon tah ZOO chh oongs OW! ss shoes.)

Doktrin der Dritte

“Third-party doctrine.”

An interesting loophole in the few privacy protections U.S. Americans and their customers think they have. Any information you have deliberately shared with a company is no longer protected against “unwarranted search and seizure” by the U.S. government. Does this also apply to information you have inadvertently shared with a company?

(DOCKED rin   dared   RITT ah.)

Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte

European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France.

The E.C.H.R. just published its list of 2013 judgments finding violations of basic human rights, ranking the top offenders by country.

Spiegel.de reported the court also announced they are improving their procedures to filter out redundant or insufficiently documented complaints, to increase processing of processes. In 2013, apparently, thousands of complaints were filed with the court but only hundreds of judgments were reached.

(Oy roe PAY ish ah   g’RICHH ts hoaf   fir   MENSCH en rechht ah.)

Recht auf Girokonto

According to a law passed by the E.U. parliament on 12 Dec 2013, every E.U. burgher is going to have a right to have their own giro-type bank account, which have replaced checking accounts.

Twenty years ago, my experience was that checks were regarded with suspicion in Germany while almost every payment and donation was made by filling out bank transfer forms. Your wages were transferred into your account (quickly and for free) and your rent, universal health insurance (incl. dental and medicines), university tuition (about $200/year? mostly student union fees, much of which the student government spent on scholarships for foreign students), public broadcasting fees, &c., were transferred out of your giro account automatically each month after you filled out permission slips for regular automatic transfers. Donations to charities, one-time payments, magazine subscriptions, court-imposed fines: all were paid for twenty years ago by filling out a transfer form and handing it to a bank clerk or mailing it to a company.

The E.U. parliament is creating this right to a giro account because they said you need one to have a normal life there “and no one should be left out because e.g. they are homeless or have financial difficulties.”

The base giro account will be able to make and receive transfers but not be overdrawn. The individual Member States still must approve this law, said ZDF heute journal moderator Heinz Wolf.

(R-r-r-echh t   ow! f   JEE roe conn toe.)

Null Null Sieben

The 007 license plate of the car that dropped off Chancellor Merkel at the E.U. summit on 24 Oct 2013 in Brussels, where the hot unofficial topic was outrage at revelations about U.S. spying on the German chancellor’s cell phone and in previously-unknown but huge volumes in France. Possibly also Italy, including the Vatican. And now Spain.

“Spying on your friends is not okay.” —Angela Merkel (C.D.U.)

“That would represent an entirely new quality, and cast a new light on all statements made by the N.S.A. in the past few months.” —Ronald Pofalla (C.D.U.), who as Kanzleramtschef, the chancellor’s chief of staff, is responsible for coordinating and monitoring Germany’s intelligence agencies. He had declared the scandal over last summer in response to assurances from the U.S.A.

“We will not allow ourselves to be treated like that by the Americans. The trust has been harmed. I think a few things have to happen now before this trust can be restored.” —Hans-Peter Friedrich (C.S.U.), interior minister

“The Americans are not fully aware of the situation. And then you’re told things like, ‘but everyone spies on everybody.’ And that’s where you have to say loudly and clearly: that is not okay. Friends are not allowed to eavesdrop on friends. And how would people react in America—this is what we’re saying on our visit here, how we’re describing it—if the Bundesnachrichtendienst were to spy on the U.S. president.” —Elmar Brok (C.D.U.), chair of the European Parliament committee for Foreign Affairs, currently visiting Washington D.C. to complain

“The chancellor’s cell phone is important, but the private and business communications of normal burghers is just as important. We will stand up for the protection of the basic rights of German citizens[…]” —Thomas Oppermann (S.P.D.), chair of the Bundestag’s Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium intelligence committee that is tasked with but not always successful at monitoring and controlling Germany’s intelligence agencies. Mr. Oppermann may be hoping to become the new Justice Minister, replacing Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (F.D.P.).

“What sort of terrorists are they trying to find in the chancellor’s cell phone? This is a really absurd indication that the reasons they’ve told us so far absolutely cannot be true.” —Christian Ströbele (Green Party), member of the Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium intelligence committee

“It’s good that the clarification of the facts appears to be starting, now, and that at least a healthy distrust vis-à-vis the American intelligence services also appears to be arising, now.”  —Steffen Bockhahn (Leftists), member of the Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium

“The German government now mistrusts all claims and assurances made by the U.S. government in the entire N.S.A. affair. Now that we know they bugged the chancellor’s cell phone, the U.S. government can no longer sustain its claim from last summer that it did not injure Germany’s interests. It did, and representatives of all parties agree on this, utterly deceive Germany.” —Ulrich Deppendorf, ARD studio head and news editor-in-chief

“I think we should be honest that we have the capacity to obtain information that we didn’t have before. What we need now is the appropriate legislation that ensures we are not seeking or not using the capacity that we have.” —Fredrik Reinfeldt (centrist Moderate Party), Prime Minister of Sweden. (Approximate quote; his original English was drowned out by the German translation.)

“So we have to think about what we need. What data protection agreements do we need, what transparency do we need. We stand between the United States of America and Europe, before shared challenges […]” —Angela Merkel (C.D.U.)

“When I walk into a negotiation and must fear that the other side, a friendly democracy, already knows from espionage what I want to say in that negotiation, that’s no longer eye-to-eye.” —Martin Schulz (S.P.D.), president of the European Parliament

007, might be funny if the matter weren’t so serious. […] But this isn’t just about the chancellor’s cell phone. The much bigger concern is industrial espionage, which could cost European companies billions.” –ARD correspondent Rolf-Dieter Krause

In a wonderful interview given in German on the evening of Oct. 24, E.U. commissioner Viviane Reding said she’d heard that England’s government did not want European data protection but Poland, Italy and France had joined together to fight for it. Also: “Both of us, both the Americans and the Europeans, need this Transatlantic Trade Agreement. But to be able to negotiate an agreement, you need trust. I think this trust is no longer quite as present. That’s why the first thing that must be done is to restore that trust. And then, so that Europe can speak with a single voice, for that you need strong data protection that is Europe-wide. And that has to be the basis from which we can then move into negotiations with the Americans.”

“The whole time, Frau Merkel acted as if the affair was unimportant, as if it wouldn’t impact anyone in a big way. But then when it affects her, she gets upset? When all German burghers were affected, when it was about protecting burghers’ basic rights, she didn’t do anything then.” —Anton Hofreiter (new Green party co-chair)

“It is strange: umpteen million communications from Germans alone are recorded every month by British and U.S. intelligence agencies. With these extraordinary claims from the documents supplied by the ex-N.S.A. man Edward Snowden the snooping story exploded into public view last summer, but left the German government, and one must say most Germans as well, rather strangely unmoved. Then last night a single cell phone was added to the mix—OK, it was the chancellor’s—and suddenly all hell broke loose.” —Claus Kleber, moderator at ZDF heute journal

The new Bundestag scheduled an extraordinary meeting or special session [Sondersitzung] to discuss the N.S.A. spying affair in mid-November. All political parties also agree a parliamentary inquiry [Untersuchungsausschuss] is “unavoidable.” Many parties would like to invite Edward Snowden to testify before the committee, after which he can apply for asylum in Germany.

Update on 28 Oct 2013: On Thursday, Brazil and Germany will introduce a draft United Nations resolution against N.S.A. spying. FAZ.net reported that a large majority was predicted to approve it, and that though United Nations General Assembly resolutions tend to be nonbinding, unlike Security Council resolutions, the fact that Brazil and Germany are behind this and that so many of the 193 member states support it give it extra significance. Brazilian reporter Sonia Bridi from TV Globo said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s government wants the world to make international regulations for internet access and international telecommunications such that no individual state can ever again have access to the world’s key communications hubs or nodes.

Update on 26 Nov 2013: The United Nations Human Rights Committee approved Germany and Brazil’s U.N. resolution against data spying. It will be sent on to the U.N. General Assembly, where the nonbinding resolution is considered certain to pass in December 2013.

“Today, for the first time, a resolution in the United Nations expressly specified that human rights have to be protected online just as much as they must be protected offline.” –Peter Wittig, permanent representative to the U.N. for Germany since 2009

(Newel   newel   ZEEB en.)

“Gerüchte verbreitend”

“Rumormongering,” for which Chinese bloggers are being sent to prison in new ways. China’s new internet rules permit the arrest of people who use blogs or Weibo microblogging (Twitter has been blocked in China) to e.g. comment on the obvious and deadly air pollution or support Bürger-Bewegungen, burgher movements, such as the one that dared to demand party functionaries publish how rich they are.

Tagesschau.de reporter Christine Adelhardt said,

“What’s a rumor is of course defined by the Party. And thus the new rules are becoming a free pass to gag critics. The Communist Party is worried about its opinion superiority [Meinungshoheit] in the internet and its power monopoly in the country.”

Her report is so well-written that it’s difficult-in-a-good-way to translate:

Was ein Gerücht ist, das bestimmt selbstverständlich die Partei. So werden die neuen Regeln zu einem Freibrief1, um Kritiker mundtot2 zu machen. Die Kommunistische Partei furchtet um ihre Meinungshoheit3 im Netz und ihre Machtmonopol im Land.”

(Geh R-R-R-Ü chh teh   furb RYE tend. )

1  Charter, get-out-of-jail-free card, free pass, but not a letter of marque which is a Kaperbrief or ship-capturing permit

2  “Mouth-dead”; gagged, muzzled

3  Opinion superiority, high ground that allows those controlling it to be the ones who define opinion

Bundessicherheitsrat

“Federal German Security Council,” which must approve German weapons exports.

Approved arms exports to Gulf states increased in 2013 (~800 million euros in the first half of 2013; ~1400 million in 2012; ~500 million in 2011). For example, apparently this council approved sales of 24 “haubitze 2000” and 62 “leopard 2” tanks to Qatar last spring, but Qatar’s neighbors Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates apparently also tooled up, according to a response to queries from the opposition Leftists (Die Linken) party. German arms exports to governments without good recent human rights histories remain heavily criticized by the pre-Sept. 22 opposition to Chancellor Merkel’s pre-Sept. 22 government.

The ARD tagesschau.de report mentioned that in Germany arms exports are “poison” for incumbents in election years, which is why, they said, people inside the weapons industry said the C.D.U./C.S.U. + F.D.P. government postponed the decision on whether to approve some further arms exports such as >100 tanks to Saudi Arabia until after Germany’s national election on 22 Sep 2013.

Update on 15 Apr 2014: The new members of the Bundessicherheitsrat are the chancellor, vice-chancellor, foreign minister, defense minister, interior minister, finance minister, justice minister, development minister and the chief of the chancellory (the chancellor’s chief of staff).

Update on 01 Jul 2014: A former federal development minister, Dirk Niebel (F.D.P.), is going to become the top lobbyist for weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall. As development minister, he was on the Bundessicherheitsrat when it approved weapons exports by his future employer, including the export not just of tanks but of a tank factory to Algeria. An op-ed in Spiegel.de called for an investigation of what approvals and favors the F.D.P. minister provided for Rheinmetall while in office.

Update on 02 Jul 2014: Prosecutors are investigating Germany’s biggest small arms manufacturers, SIG Sauer, Heckler & Koch and Carl Walther, for exporting guns to e.g. Colombia and Mexico without saying so on the guns’ export permits. The economy ministry, part of the remit of superminister Sigmar Gabriel (S.P.D.), is investigating reforms to Germany’s weapons export permit procedures that would include e.g. the introduction of random checks to ensure weapons remained where their exporters said they were going.

(BOON dess ZICHH ah heights RAH t.)

Aufsichtsrat für Privatsphäre und Freiheitsrechte

“Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board,” oversight in this case meaning not overlooking but supervising, or at least providing their boss with advice. The White House has had one of these since 2004 when Congress established it in response to a recommendation in the 9/11 Commission Report. The advisory board has five members, nominated by the President and approved by Congress. They “serve at the President’s pleasure.”

FederalRegister.gov lists some of the board’s history and the following responsibilities.

“The Board advises the President and other senior executive branch officials to ensure that concerns with respect to privacy and civil liberties are appropriately considered in the implementation of all laws, regulations, and executive branch policies related to efforts to protect the Nation against terrorism. This includes advising on whether adequate guidelines, supervision, and oversight exist to protect these important legal rights of all Americans. In addition, the Board is specifically charged with responsibility for reviewing the terrorism information sharing practices of executive branch departments and agencies to determine whether guidelines designed to appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties are being followed[.]”

What changes could have been made to this board or other institutions that might have prevented the last decade’s vast growth in U.S.-led collection—by U.S. government agencies, international private-sector companies and friendly foreign governments’ agencies—of domestic and foreign communications? What would have kept our intelligence industry manageable and monitored and transparent enough for a democracy?

(OW! f zichh ts rot   foor   pree VOT s fare eh   oont   FRYE heights rect eh.)

Freiheitsrechte

Germans are world-famous for being protective of personal privacy. Their constitutionally protected civil liberties are slightly different as well; here are the basic Freiheitsrechte, or “personal liberty rights,” according to de.Wikipedia:

Allgemeine Handlungsfreiheit: “General freedom of action” Art. 2 of the German Constitution [Grundgesetz, GG]. Art. 2 No. 1 appears to be the basis for what are known as the “Persönlichkeitsrechte,” “personality rights” protecting the “free unfolding” of the personality against interventions in a person’s life and freedom, even after death.

Recht auf Leben: “Right to life” Art. 2 No. 2 GG

Recht auf Freiheit: “Right to freedom” Art. 2 No. 2 GG

Recht auf körperliche Unversehrtheit: “Right to bodily integrity” Art. 2 No. 2 GG

Gewissensfreiheit: “Freedom of conscience” Art. 4 No. 1 GG

Religionsfreiheit: “Freedom of religion” Art. 4 No. 2 GG

Meinungsfreiheit: “Freedom of opinion” Art. 5 No. 1 GG

Versammlungsfreiheit: “Right to assemble” Art. 8 No. 1 GG

Vereinigungsfreiheit: “Freedom of association” Art. 9 No. 1 GG

Koalitionsfreiheit: “Freedom of coalition,” for employees and employers to form groups to promote their interests. Art. 9 No. 3 GG

Freizügigkeit: “Right of abode” to choose where you will live. Art. 11 No. 1 GG

Berufsfreiheit: “Freedom of profession” to choose your own jobs and the training for them. Art. 12 No. 1 GG

(FRYE heights rect eh.)

Unabhängiger Revisor für die Terrorismusgesetzgebung

The U.K.’s “independent reviewer of terrorism legislation,” who is looking into the police’s invocation of Britain’s “antiterror” laws when they interrogated David Miranda for nine hours without a lawyer after he tried to change planes at Heathrow—a difficult connection airport even when you’re not terrorized by authorities. They confiscated Mr. Miranda’s computer, phone and all other electronic gear.

David Anderson, Q.C., has also been called “U.K. Terror Law Watchdog” in English-language headlines.

(OON ob HENG iggah   reVISor   foor   dee   tare or IZ moose geh ZETZ gay boong.)

Autonome Tötungsroboter

Autonomous killer robots.

A Süddeutsche.de article said for years now billions have invested annually in research and development of these types of weapons by the U.S.A., United Kingdom, Israel and soon China as well. The U.S. Navy for example is working on unmanned killer submarines. The U.S. Air Force notoriously has its drones. Companies like iRobot Corp. have been delivering land-based battle robots for years, on wheels, caterpillar treads, four legs and they’re working on bipedal. Post-mounted or mobile Samsung sentries (“SGR-1”) have been erected along the North Korean border that can now be set to automatically shoot anything detectable by motion, heat or, presumably, video-analyzing software.

Opponents of the technology say it’s only a question of time until remotely operated killing machines become autonomous decision-makers. The time for people to decide on an international framework for these types of weapons is now, said a United Nations expert on extralegal killing.

Sweden, wrote Süddeutsche.de, has called for an international test ban [Testverbot] on L.A.R.’s, lethal autonomous robots, asking each country’s government to announce a national moratorium on them and to unilaterally decline to manufacture and test autonomous killer robots.

(Ow! toe NOME ah   TƏ TOONGS roe BOT ah.)

Alle Bürger sind in ihrer Würde gleich vor dem Gesetz, ohne Unterscheidung von Geschlecht, Rasse, Sprache, Religion oder politische Meinung

Fundamental rights defined in the current version of the Italian constitution read by a protester into a bullhorn before the Italian supreme court on the day that court upheld Silvio Berlusconi’s criminal conviction.

This might be from Art. 3, “Tutti i cittadini hanno pari dignità sociale e sono eguali davanti alla legge, senza distinzione di sesso, di razza, di lingua, di religione, di opinioni politiche, di condizioni personali e sociali.”

All citizens are in their dignity equal before the law, without differentiation of sex, race, language, religion or political opinion [or personal and social conditions].

(OLL ah   burgher   zint   in   ear ah   VOORD eh   gly chh   fore   dame   geh ZETS.)

Merkwürdige Umkehrung rechtsstaatlicher Logik

Remarkable reversal of rule-of-law logic.” One of Heribert Prantl’s points in his op-ed on fundamental rights [Grundrechte], the German constitution and various countries’ mass trawling to collect world communications.

“In the countries of the western world, led by the U.S.A., a remarkable process of reversal of rule-of-law logic is underway: Whether a country is ruled by law is apparently no longer measured by whether the country upholds people’s fundamental rights. Instead, the violations of fundamental rights are justified by saying it’s a rule-of-law country doing the violating. The concept of ‘rule of law’ is being stripped naked of its content and used willy-nilly despite what it actually means. The United States are justifying even the worst ominousnesses by saying ‘but we’re a Rechtsstaat (rule-of-law country).’ Apparently people think that even nobilifies waterboarding.

“…A state that views its burghers with generalized suspicion and fundamentally mistrusts everybody is not strong. A state is strong that has the security that human rights and burgher rights are the best guarantors of internal security. A democratic state, which only exists because of and from the freedom of its people, must not turn against its creators.”

(MERK voor diggah   OOM care oong   WRECKED shtot lichh err   LO! gick.)

“Empört Euch!”

The capitalism-critical essay written in 2010 by Stéphane Hessel (orig. French title: “Indignez-vous!”; in English, “Time for Outrage”) who died this week aged 96. Born in Berlin, he became a French citizen in 1939, fought the Nazis in the Résistance and was captured and imprisoned in a concentration camp, from which he escaped. After the war, he helped with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was a diplomat and writer.

The sequel to Hessel’s 2010 essay is “Engagiert Euch!” (“Engagez-vous!”, “Get Involved!”), written in 2011 with Gilles Vanderpooten. Wikipedia says these essays helped inspire people in the Occupy movement, among many others.

(Emp ƏRT   oychh.)

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