Every individual has a huge amount of personal data. This includes not only their name, address and age, but also details of their family situation, income, ethnic background, health, hobbies and many other things. These data belong inseparably to a particular person; they provide information on who we are, what we like doing, and even what personal weaknesses we have. For this reason, it is important to handle this data very carefully. Much of this information is stored in government departments, at one’s place of work, in banks or at the doctor’s so that it can be accessed when needed. But it must not get into the hands of someone who can misuse it.
All people have a right to the protection of their personal data. The German parliament or Bundestag
passed the first data protection law
in 1977. In some German states, there are additional data protection laws. Among other things, these laws stipulate that all citizens can be given information about the data that is being kept about them. If they feel that this data is incorrect, they can have it deleted. A federal data protection registrar and various state data protection agencies ensure that these rules are adhered to. Public authorities also have to keep these laws. For example, it is forbidden for telephone companies to monitor phone calls and pass on data. This may only happen in exceptional cases that are precisely laid down by law.
Gerd Schneider/ Christiane Toyka-Seid