The Federal Council has spoken out in favor of strengthening data protection a little when accessing personal information from population registers. On Friday, at the request of North Rhine-Westphalia, he launched a draft law with which the requirements for the identification of a wanted person for information on the population register are to be increased. The aim is to better protect private individuals from fraudulent requests for information.
According to the proposal For data queries from registration authorities, either an address of the person sought should be given. Or a legitimate interest has to be made credible, but this is quite broad. A legitimate interest can already exist if a company processes data in a customer relationship or for direct mail. Fraud prevention or the security of an IT system can also represent such reasons.
Hardly any protection against abuse
So far, however, it has been easier to use the registration authorities. After this applicable Federal Registration Act Private individuals or companies can obtain information, in particular about the private registration address of a citizen, by providing data that is easy to find. This includes the family name, a previous name, date of birth, gender or an address. The Federal Council complains that this has the consequence that registration authorities often give out the current address of people when their first and last names are given.
The states warn that information from the population register has potential for abuse, especially in view of the increasing aggression against emergency services and rescue workers and other exposed persons. Citizens and elected officials who, by disclosing their registration data, threaten life, health, personal freedom or similar interests worthy of protection, still have the option of requesting a ban on information. In this case, at least a comprehensive review and consultation process is required before data is released.
Balance of interests
Collection companies, for example, often use the option to query reporting data. It is used, for example, to enforce claims under civil law, since an address capable of being served is required in order to obtain and enforce a title. With the reform, the state chamber now wants to ensure a better balance of the often conflicting interests such as the right to informational self-determination of those affected and the enforcement of claims.
The draft law is now going to the federal government. This then has to write a statement and then submit both documents to the Bundestag for a decision. There are no fixed deadlines for this. The MPs recently introduced the tax ID as an overarching “regulatory feature” and personal identification number in more than 50 relevant public sector databases, including vehicle and residents’ registers, in order to be able to better merge data from them. Experts had constitutional concerns about it.