2009/10/28

German federal coalition contract: The plan till 2013 (Part II)

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I wrote previously about the national security-related parts of the new federal German coalition contract. Now it's the time to cover the civil rights / domestic freedom topics.
The coalition contract has been accepted by the parties (CDU, CSU, F.D.P.) and signed in the meantime.

(I'm sorry for the awkward translations. The coalition contract itself isn't exactly a piece of high art literature and I attempt to translate for authentic meaning.)


Chapter III. "Sozialer Fortschritt" (social progress)
III.4 Gleichstellung (equal opportunities)

This is mostly about equal opportunities for and fair treatment of women. Most in this chapter is pretty much what all alternative coalitions could have agreed to as well.
They also pledge to enforce the principle "same money for same work". (Economic studies show a 10% remaining salary disadvantage for women that cannot be explained with any other reasons than discrimination.)

Chapter IV. Freiheit und Sicherheit (liberty and security)
IV.1 Innere Sicherheit und Bürgerrechte (domestic security and civil rights)

They want to strengthen and improve the Bundespolizei (federal police = previously border guards).

Wir halten am Trennungsgebot zwischen Polizei und Nachrichtendiensten fest.
(We uphold the separation principle for police and intelligence services.)

They want to found a federal coast guard (as institution).

Daher werden wir auf Grundlage der verfassungsgerichtlichen Rechtsprechung das BKA-Gesetz daraufhin überprüfen, ob und inwieweit der Schutz des Kernbereichs privater Lebensgestaltung zu verbessern ist.
(We will on basis of the constitutional court's ruling evaluate the BKA law to see whether and how the protection of the core area of privacy shall be improved.)

Wir werden im Hinblick auf die Befugnis der Ton- und Bildaufzeichnung außerhalb von Wohnungen den Kernbereichsschutz verbessern.
(We will improve the core privacy area protection in regard to the competence for audio and video recording outside of residences.)

Für die Entscheidung über die Anordnung der verdeckten Ermittlungsmaßnahmen nach dem Abschnitt zur Gefahrenabwehr gegen den internationalen Terrorismus im BKA-Gesetz soll künftig ein Richter am Bundesgerichtshof [...] zuständig sein.
(For the decision about the court order of covert investigations according to the chapter for averting of a danger against international terrorism in the BKA law will a judge at the Federal Court of Justice [...] be responsible.)

Then there's some drivel about improving institutions for danger aversion, and informing the public better about threats and the like. This line follows:

Diejenigen, die sich in Feuerwehren, Hilfsorganisationen, Rettungsdiensten und im THW aufopfernd und unentgeltlich für die Sicherheit ihrer Mitmenschen einsetzen, müssen dauerhaft unterstützt werden. Sie sind Vorbilder unserer Gesellschaft.
(Those who work for free in firefighters, aid organizations, paramedics and THW (a technical disaster response service) need to be permanently supported. They are role models of our society.)

OK, there it is. It's not really linked to civil rights, but it's interesting for it shows the world from the eyes of 50-70 y.o. German politicians. Complaints about a supposed decline in readiness to work for the society voluntarily are frequently recurring, and this is no different. These politicians have a recognition and field of view problem.
A minute writer in a registered club and an aid organization worker are recognized for their supposedly selfless service, while new forms of voluntary work for free are being ignored.
You won't find a German politician cheering someone who has edited a thousand wikipedia articles with high quality additions. You won't find a German politician who recognizes online game clan staff as the equal of a carnival club staff.
They lack a complete picture of our society, and that's not exactly good news.

(...then some very normal stuff...)

Deutschland hat schon jetzt eines der strengsten Waffengesetze der Welt. Wir sind daher einig in der Einschätzung, dass es gegenwärtig keinen weiteren Veränderungsbedarf im Waffenrecht gibt.
(Germany has one of the most strict wapons laws of the world. We are therefore in agreement in the assessment that there's no need for additional changes in the weapons law.)
But: there's an ongoing evaluation till 2011 whether there are unacceptable requirements in the weapons law about the storage of weapons. This is a pointer that there may be some relief (not in regard to weapons, but in regard to regulations for their storage) in 2011-2013.

Under the headline "Terrorcamps":
Wir werden das Gesetz zur Verfolgung der Vorbereitung von schweren staatsgefährdenden Gewalttaten zur Mitte der Legislaturperiode im Hinblick auf seine Wirksamkeit gegen die Bedrohungen durch den internationalen Terrorismus evaluieren.
There were some efforts to illegalize the participation in so-called terror camps in the past which were rejected for legal principle and practical reasons. This quote merely says that they'll look at the issue again.

Die Reform der Telekommunikationsüberwachung werden wir im Hinblick darauf evaluieren, ob deren Ziele erreicht wurden und welche Maßnahmen zur Optimierung ergriffen werden können.
(The reform of the telecommunications surveillance will be evaluated in regard to the question whether the goals were achieved and which measures can be taken to optimize.)
This may be a weak hint that some in the coalition consider the surveillance as disappointing and not worthy in the present extent. it may also point into the opposite direction - it's completely ambivalent. Well, politics...

IV.2 Informations- und Mediengesellschaft (information and media society)

Allen Menschen Zugang zu neuen Medien zu erleichtern, ist uns [...] ein zentrales Anliegen, sowohl im Hinblick auf die Verfügbarkeit als auch auf Barrierefreiheit und Medienkompetenz.
(To make the access to new media easy for all people is a central [...] concern of ourts. Both in regard to availability and in regard to barrier-freeness and media competence.)
The barrier thing may prove important over time.

They trust the existing market structure to provide net neutrality, but will observe the development and if necessary intervene to ensure net neutrality.

Wir bekräftigen, dass Recht und Gesetz im Internet schon heute und in Zukunft ebenso gelten wie überall sonst.
This quote pretty much rebukes previous polemic about the internet being supposedly a law-free space. I bet this came form the liberals and is meant to silence some especially annoying conservatives.

[...] werden wir uns auf internationaler Ebene für Lösungen stark machen, um Kinderpornographie sowie Kriminalität allgemein im Internet besser bekämpfen zu können.
([...]will we stick up on the international level for solutions to besser fight against child pornography and crime in general in the internet.)
This may be the successor of the technically stupid and constitutionally illegal family ministry's bill for an internet censorship against child pronography.
It's still ambivalent enough that it could mean something completely different, though. Politicians...

(...)
Internetsperren [...] Wir sind uns darüber einig, dass es notwendig ist, derartige kriminelle Angebote schnellstmöglich zu löschen statt diese zu sperren."
(Internet blocks [...] We are in agreement that it's necessary to delete such criminal supply (child pornography in the internet) as soon as possible instead of blocking them.)
This "delete instead of block" policy will last for twelve months, afterward they will evaluate the experiences and the contract tells nothing about what happens afterward.
There will be no other efforts to block internet content in those twelve months.

There went the internet censorship law of von der Leyen down, before it became effective.
The coalition will delete instead of block (which IS mostly possible, but wasn't done so far because von der Leyen was obviously incompetent, Schäuble was obviously uninterested and the previous government preferred symbolic policy over actual countermeasures in regard to child pornography.)

IV.3 Datenschutz (data privacy)

Some unspectacular efforts for data privacy, they will apparently revise teh law on it with the intent of making it more simple, mroe technology-neutral and more effective.
They will create a foundation data privacy to test services in regard to data privacy (we have mchc-respected other foundations for testing other services and products - this is a consumer protection effort.)

Wir werden den Zugriff der Bundesbehörden auf die gespeicherten Vorratsdaten der Telekommunikationsunternehmen bis zur Entscheidung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts über die Verfassungsmäßigkeit der Vorratsdatenspeicherung aussetzen und bis dahin auf Zugriffe zur Abwehr einer konkreten Gefahr für Leib, Leben und Freiheit beschränken.
(We will pause the access of federal agencies to the saved communications data of telecommunications corporations till the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court about the constitutionality of the data retention. Till that decision we will limit the access to the purpose of averting concrete dangers to body, life and freedom.)
The general expectation in public is as far as I know that the court will trash the law anyway, so this temporary agreement in the coalition contract should suffice.

Wir setzen uns für eine Verbesserung des Arbeitnehmerdatenschutzes ein und wollen Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter vor Bespitzelungen an ihrem Arbeitsplatz wirksam schützen. Es dürfen nur solche Daten verarbeitet werden, die für das Arbeitsverhältnis erforderlich sind.
(We will stick up for an improvement of the employee data protection and want to protect employees against spying at work. Only such data as necessary for the employment need to be processed.)
Many - too many - scandals about spying corporations laid the groundwork for this. We'll see how sharp the actual legal changes will be, though. Some of the corporations in question have very good relations to top politicians.

IV.4 Rechtspolitik (legal policy)

(some stuff, but I don't know enough about the topics to comment)

Then:
Wir stärken die Pressefreiheit. Dazu werden wir insbesondere im Strafgesetzbuch sicherstellen, dass sich Journalisten künftig nicht mehr der Beihilfe zur Verletzung eines Dienstgeheimnisses strafbar machen, wenn sie ihnen vertraulich zugeleitetes Material veröffentlichen. Darüber hinaus stärken wir den Beschlagnahmeschutz für Journalisten. Künftig wird eine Beschlagnahme nur noch bei einem dringenden Tatverdacht gegen den Journalisten möglich sein.
We reinforce the freedom of the press. We will make sure in the criminal code that journalists don't violate an official secret if they publish secret material that they got. Furthermore we improve their protection against confiscation. A confiscation of journalist materials will in the future only be possible with a strong and urgent suspicion.)
This is certainly meant to prevent future scandals as those that have erupted again and again since the 60's.

Im Kampf gegen Zwangsehen werden wir einen eigenständigen Straftatbestand für Zwangsheirat einführen.
(In the fight against forced marriages we will create an independent element of an offence for forced marriage.)
This will in practice affect only minorities (especially Muslim and Southern European foreigners in Germany).

Innovationen und Erfindungen sind für die volkswirtschaftliche Entwicklung unseres an Rohstoffen armen Landes, für die internationale Wettbewerbsfähigkeit unseres Landes und für den Schutz von Arbeitsplätzen in Deutschland von zentraler Bedeutung. Wir wollen deshalb den rechtlichen Rahmen für einen wirksamen Schutz des geistigen Eigentums durch Patente, Marken und Muster weiter stärken und den Zugang zu Schutzrechten für den Mittelstand erleichtern.
(Innovations and inventions are of central importance for the macroeconomic development of our resource-poor country, for the internaitonal competitiveness of our country and for the protection of jobs in Germany. We want therefore reinforce teh legal environment for an effective protection of intellectual property by patents, brands and designs. We want also make easier the access of the small and medium enterprises to industrial property rights.)

There's apparently still no insight that patents don't stimulate innovation but rather strangle it. The stimulation was nice theory, but the system has long since been perverted, and only those corporations who profit the most by this lobby a lot. Well, those and the die-hard and unimaginative music industry.
The attempts to improve the situation on the international stage haev little chance of success either. Very large corporations can sabotage small and medium enterprise innovation by going to a dozen European countries for patents on the innovation - the SME usually bows to this because of the excessive legal costs of a real fight for their rights. The SME's only chance is to keep the innovation secret.
The system is perverted and this coalition doesn't plan to repair it.

IV.5 Moderner Staat (modern state)

Wir wollen die Mitwirkungsmöglichkeiten der Bevölkerung an der demokratischen Willensbildung stärken. Dazu werden wir das Petitionswesen weiterentwickeln und verbessern. Bei Massenpetitionen werden wir über das im Petitionsausschuss bestehende Anhörungsrecht hinaus eine Behandlung des Anliegens im Plenum des Deutschen Bundestags unter Beteiligung der zuständigen Ausschüsse vorsehen.
(We want to reinforce the opportunities of the population to participate in the demoratic process. We will tehrefore evolve and improve the petition right. In regard to mass petitions we will expand the right to be heard to a discussion in the German federal Parliament with participation of the responsible commissions.)
Petitions with more than 100,000 signatures had little effect in the past, maybe they'll get more attention in the future.

- - - - -

Now about the personnel:

New minister of the interior:
Thomas de Maizière (CDU)
The predecessor Schäuble is still in the cabinet; he became minister of finance.
Thomas de Maizière doesn't look like an improvement (the pool of problematic politicians in CDU/CSU isn't exactly small):

Let me quote Wikipedia.de:

Im August 2009 forderte de Maizière strengere „Verhaltensregeln“ für das Internet. Er erklärte gegenüber der Rheinischen Post:

„Müssen wir nicht die Menschen vor Denunziation, Entwürdigung oder unseriösen Geschäften schützen wie im Zivilrecht? Ähnlich wie auf den Finanzmärkten brauchen wir mittelfristig Verkehrsregeln im Internet. Sonst werden wir dort Scheußlichkeiten erleben, die jede Vorstellungskraft sprengen. Vieles geht da übrigens nicht nur national.“
It would be too painful to translate; he basically made the nonsense assertion that the internet is a law-free space and called for 'traffic rules' in the internet. I label him "pro-censorship" and a threat to civil liberties in Germany.
(photo (c) Tobias Krecht)


New and old minister for famility, women, seniors and youth:
Ursula von der Leyen
(CDU)
Zensursula, the women who wanted to violate our constitution by constructing an internet censorship that fails technically 100% in its supposed purpose, but creates the legal infrastructure for more censorship.
She got the Big Brother Award this month.






New minister for justice:
Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger
(F.D.P.)
She was already in this position in 1992-1996 and may become the bulwark that protects civil liberties in Germany.
I recall only good things of her earlier term. She even resigned in 1996 in protest against an eavesdropping law.
(photo (c) user Akriesch via Wikipedia)







Those with serious interest in the coalition contract (and the necessary German language skill) should read the original.

Sven Ortmann
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7 comments:

  1. The part about the BOS (Behörden- und Organisationen mit Sicherheitsaufgaben) irked me a bit. You can't put firefighting and contributing to wikipedia or on the same level. All those organizations have severe recruitment problems, because a decreasing number of people are ready to sacrifice their health and their freetime (basic and advanced training). And that's what this part of the coalition agreement is dealing with.
    By the way, the THW is the civil defense service, disaster relief is just our secondary job.

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  2. I didn't put them on the same level, but official club and unofficial clan staff.
    I don't rate the THW as very important, though. Even in its greatest mission ever (the 2002 Elbe flood) it sent less than 29% of today's personnel strength, so I wouldn't complain about recruitment troubles. The THW is today quite redundant with firefighters because the civil defence mission is pretty much an obsolete Cold War relic (and it was unrealistic till '90 as well).

    My point was a different one, of course: The politicians don't see and appraise the whole society. The part in the coalition contract merely triggered something in me; I observed the outdated world view of our politicians for several years.
    The honorary office issue is just a mosaic piece of the greater problem.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm interested in the issue of a federal coast guard. In the US the Coast Guard is responsible for licensing mariners, inspecting vessels, enforcing pollution control (from ships) and preventing the entry of unauthorized persons by sea. They are also active on inland waterways; the general requirement is that the waterways have to receive federal funding for navigation improvements to be considered "federal waterways."

    Which agencies perform these tasks in Germany now and what will be the role of the new German Coast Guard? Will it absorb the agencies or simply act as a strongarm enforcer for them? I think, in general, that a new service is necessary only to the extent that something is lacking in the current situation. It's very likely that the existing agencies will fight the proposal that their authority (and budget!) be reduced by handing over their responsibilities to a new service.

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  4. The future isn't for sure.

    Four federal agencies plus a tiny part of the navy (Do 228 patrol planes) provide coast guard services today - and the private DGZRS is the main service provider for SAR missions at sea.

    Inland waterways are the responsibility of the 16 state polices (dedicated waterway police). A German coast guard would most likely not have combatant status.

    I doubt that the new coalition will do much in regard to a real coast guard.

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  5. @James: The current (non) cost-guard setup is one big mess due to its federal structure, and yes, you are right, the three coastal "Länder" are not thrilled by the idea to hand over their authority.

    Schleswig-Holstein, for example, stopped its 10 year long attempt to form a co-ordinated coast guard 4 years ago after it became clear that others would not join in.

    It's but a question of time until we see the next ship accident that will illustrate the confusion - a confusion that is partially wanted because everyone is afraid to have to pay for cleaning up a huge oiler catastrophy.

    Another piece of the puzzle that is missing is the "Seesicherheitsgesetz" for the navy: There are a couple of "white spots" where the water police and customs have all rights but no (or too little) means, whereas the navy has all the means but no powers (Stichwort "Nacheile" usw).

    ReplyDelete
  6. Even though it's off topic, but could you elaborate the 29% figure? Active duty personnel or reserve duty personnel included? Also, keep in mind that the THW is pretty decentralized and organized in local formations (at least one in every Landkreis/County), those units are usually integrated in the local emergency service mechanism, so even if a local formations deploys its subunits, they still have to keep some in reserve. For example my Ortsverband deployed just an understrength squad plus vehicle to the Elbe, because we had to provide a Schnelle Einsatzgruppe (Quick Response Team). And about that "redundant" part, you should read up on that! The THW offers capabilities most towns or counties couldn't provide, because they lack the funding. Also, the THW equipment and training is standardized, a Bavarian Technical Platoon has the same equipment and the same training as a Platoon from Brandenburg. They are interchangeable, meaning you can rotate the personnel. The fire fighter departments are totally heterogeneous. Different equipment, different training, different doctrines. And that part about "unrealistic till '90 as well", the THW had and has a wide range of missions, especially if the state of defence is declared. It wasn't just about bunkers or warning the population.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Personnel at Elbe / total personnel today = 29%
    That's a strong hint that the THW is larger than necessary.

    The "unrealistic" thing was about people, and not only a problem of the THW.
    I remember very well how policemen, firefighters, THW people, nurses, doctors and even soldiers openly told friends that in case of WW3 they would take their family and flee westward. That were the 80's.

    A club-like organization as the THW would most likely have disintegrated on day one.
    That's of course not the official image and it's not what THW people (or policemen, soldiers) want to admit, but that was how it looked in the 80's.
    It would have been possible to keep discipline among those soldiers not on leave, but everything else was of dubious reliability in case of WW3.

    ReplyDelete

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