Surveillance, facial recognition and hand grenades
We are lodging a constitutional complaint against the amended Saxon Police Act.
Since the amended Saxon Police Enforcement Service Act (Sächsisches Polizeivollzugsdienstgesetz, SächPVDG) came into force a year ago, the Saxon police have even more stringent surveillance instruments at their disposal than before. Moreover, the police can use those instruments much more extensively - despite numerous police scandals in the recent past.
EARLY SURVEILLANCE VIOLATES FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND THE PRINCIPLE OF THE RULE OF LAW
We are objecting to long-term surveillance by police officers, the use of undercover investigators and confidants, wiretapping and tracking outside the home, and data collection related to telecommunications and internet use.
The new Saxon Police Act permits the police to observe individuals over the long term, to listen to and locate them outside the home (section 63) or even to put them on police observation (section 60, paragraph 2). It suffices that there is a suspicion that a person will at some point in the future commit a "criminal offence of considerable importance that is at least concrete in its nature". According to the law, any criminal offence that is committed in an organised manner and is likely to disturb the public peace - even petty offences such as insults - can be considered a criminal offence of considerable importance.
The new police law also allows for the surveillance of telecommunication traffic and internet use (§ 66), whereby this is linked to criminal offences which are themselves already far in advance of a criminal offence. With such a shift of powers of intervention into the "run-up to the run-up", it can be sufficient for a person to have contacts with criminals in order to become the focus of the police.
In addition, the Saxon police may now also use trusted third parties (§ 64) to spy on people. In view of the many problems with the use of confidential informants, drastically revealed by the neo-Nazi terrorist group "National Socialist Underground", legal safeguards are necessary - but the law does not contain them. This violates the rule of law.
INTELLIGENT VIDEO SURVEILLANCE VIOLATES THE RIGHT TO INFORMATIONAL SELF-DETERMINATION
The power of intelligent video surveillance (section 59) is a novelty in Germany. The police are not only allowed to make video recordings, but also to automatically compare them with police data. According to the explanatory memorandum, this includes the comparison of particularly sensitive biometric data (facial recognition). This violates the fundamental right to informational self-determination because the measure is permissible without a concrete reason. Intelligent video surveillance covers the entire border area up to a depth of 30 kilometres (section 59(1), first sentence). This covers about half the area of Saxony. The law provides for a review of the order only after six months (section 59 (3) sentence 2).
USE OF HAND GRENADES VIOLATES HUMAN DIGNITY AND SEPARATION OF MILITARY AND POLICE FORCES
Finally, the constitutional complaint is directed against the use of weapons of war such as hand grenades by the police (section 40 (4)). This not only violates the constitutionally required separation of military and police, but also human dignity. According to the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court, the state may not weigh the lives of innocent people. However, it does so when it accepts the death of innocent people when using hand grenades.
WHO IS GOING TO COURT?
The plaintiffs in the case are journalists, lawyers, a football fan and a social worker. They are represented by Prof. Dr. Matthias Bäcker (University of Mainz).