Weber and Saravia v. Germany
European Court of Human Rights
29 June 2006
The first applicant, Ms.Weber, was a German freelance journalist. The second applicant, Mr.Saravia, was a Uruguayan national who took and passed on telephone messages for the first applicant. The applicants lodged a constitutional complaint in German constitutional court alleging that the German law allowing the state intelligence agency to collect information by intercepting telecommunications in order to identify and avert serious dangers facing the Federal Republic of Germany violated their rights to secrecy of telecommunications and to self-determination in the sphere of information.
The applicants claimed that certain provisions of the law in issue as interpreted by the Constitutional Court violated their right to respect for their private life and their correspondence.
The Court ruled that the interference, namely, the existence of legislation which allowed a system for a secret monitoring of communications, was necessary in a democratic society and proportionate, and therefore justified. Thus no violation of the applicants’ rights was found.
The Court found that:
- The law in issue had all the necessary qualities to state that the interference was prescribed by law and served for a legitimate purpose, namely, national security.
- The data was allowed to be used only for the purposes it was collected for.
- The measures remained in force for a fairly short time period.
- The possibilities to share the data with the other state institutions were limited.
- The law provided for a destruction of the personal data as soon as it was no longer needed to achieve the legitimate aim.
- The law provided for independent supervision over monitoring.
- Individuals were to be informed that their telecommunications had been intercepted as soon as notification could be carried out without jeopardising the purpose of monitoring.
- There existed adequate and effective guarantees against abuse, namely, there was an administrative procedure designed to ensure that interception measures were not ordered without a proper consideration.