Freedom and Security — Responses to the Threat of International Terrorism

  • Marie-Theres Tinnefeld


The September 11 attacs have led to a number of changes in the legislative framework of the EU member states. Governments intended to react quickly, powerfully and with high public visibility reactions in public to justify the power of technology in the interests of national security. The new goal is to search terrorist activity in the ocean of telecommunications data retained by communications providers and accessed by intelligence authorities. EU member states have to put in place a national data retention law by March 2009. In Germany, the most recent problem is the question of the legality of the secret online-surveillance and search of IT-Sytems, especially concerning of individual’s PCs. The German Federal Constitutional Court has held, that the area of governmental authority for intervention must be limited by the constitutional protection of human dignity and fundamental rights like information privacy, telecommunications secrecy and respect for the home. In February 2008 the highest German Court created a new human right of confidentially and integrity of IT-Systems. The decision has to be understood as a reaction to the widespread use of invisible information technology by legal authorities and their secret and comprehensive surveillance of the citizens.

This article highlights the critical question, whether civilization, human rights and democracy can survive at a time, when, after the rise of terrorism the security principle seems to be the primary arbiter of information society. In particular the German Court decisions will serve as convincing evidence on the real strength of balance between freedom and security, both of which are claimed to defend the open information society.


Human Dignity Information Society Communication Provider Legislative Framework Governmental Authority 
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Copyright information

© Vieweg+Teubner | GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Theres Tinnefeld
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Applied Sciences MunichGermany

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