IT security and data protection
Information security is an integral part of Germany's national security strategy. Measures adopted by the German Government in this respect meet the requirements set out in guidelines compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The German Government early on established structures needed to safeguard secure information and communication technologies within the Federal Ministry of the Interior. In addition, in early 2002 an IT staff was created within the Ministry as the central unit responsible for information security.
The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) is the central IT security services provider for the German Government. Since 1991 the BSI has been providing information and advisory services to public administrations on IT security. Businesses, manufacturers and private users draw on these advisory services as well. The BSI also develops IT security applications and products. It checks and certifies IT systems as regards their security features.
IT security also has an increasingly greater role to play in another, particularly sensitive, area, namely the protection of critical infrastructures. These infrastructures include, among others, transport, energy, disaster protection and the banking system. Around 80 per cent of Germany's critical infrastructures are in the hands of private enterprise. The German Government therefore works very closely with the private sector on issues of IT security.
At international level, the German Government is actively involved in the work of all the relevant international bodies, such as the EU, the OECD, the UN and NATO. As a member of the G8 group of nations, Germany is also committed to working with the G8's groups of experts who deal specifically with IT security issues.
Crimes are also committed with the help of the internet, including the dissemination of child pornography and extremist propaganda, and fraudulent marketing of goods and services.
The internet is also used to commit credit card fraud, for illegal gambling, dishonest advertising, violations of copyright and the illegal sale of weapons, narcotics and medications.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior is committed to preventing such crimes. To that end, the criminal investigation authorities are adapting their activities in line with these new forms of crime and the strategies adopted by perpetrators. Above all that means that the police need to keep pace with the rapid rate of technical progress.
However, IT security also means protecting the privacy rights of German citizens. As a result of technical progress the means of accessing data are increasing rapidly in both the public and private sector. A modern industrial and service society is reliant on automated data processing systems. At the same time it opens up unlimited possibilities for storing and linking information via computers. The German Government is therefore meeting the current demands made of data protection.
The German constitution guarantees each individual's privacy rights on account of general privacy rights. These have their basis in Articles 1 and 2 of the Basic Law, according to which everyone has the right to themselves determine to what use their personal data are put.
The Federal Data Protection Act and the relevant legislation on data protection in the federal Länder protect individuals against invasion of personal privacy. The legal use of all of their personal data is guaranteed. The legislation applies in the public sphere and in the non-public sphere, for example companies in the private sector, credit reporting agencies and opinion polling institutes.
Every five years the German Bundestag elects a Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information who advises and controls the federal authorities in their handling of data. Citizens can also contact the Federal Commissioner, who has independent status, regarding data protection issues.