Monday, 07 May 2012 11:15
Two parallel initiatives by the Austrian AK Vorrat (working group data retention) are impressively supported by the general public.
On the one hand, the citizens initiative for the abolishment of the EU data retention directive and the evaluation of national anti-terror legislation has already been signed by more than 100 000 citizens. On the other hand, already more than 7 000 persons have taken part in the planned constitutional complaint against the national implementation of data retention.
Last year the Austrian AK Vorrat started a citizens' initiative in order to commit the Austrian Government to take position against data retention on European level and to undertake an evaluation of the numerous national laws which have been implemented to allegedly fight terrorism. While this initiative has so far been supported by more than 100 000 people, the AK Vorrat is planning further actions to bring data retention to a downfall in Austria.
The Austrian government has delayed the implementation of the EU data retention directive for a long time. In spring 2010, after the EC has filed an infringement procedure, the government finally adopted a respective package of measures which entered into force on 1 April 2012.
Already in 2010 the working group started its preparations for an appeal to the Austrian Constitutional Court, but since a so-called individual complaint can be filed only against a law in force (and when the individual is directly affected by the challenged provisions) the activists had to wait till April 2012.
When this day came the working group presented its plans in a press conference. The target was to motivate about 1 000 individuals to join the complaint against the data retention in Austria. This target was reached only two days after its announcement. Within three weeks more than 18 000 persons have declared their intent to join the action, almost 7 000 of which have already submitted the necessary formal authorisation.
The mass complaint against data retention seems to become the biggest complaint in the history of the republic. In relative figures, the number of plaintiffs in Austria is much higher than the number of plaintiffs who supported the complaint which led to the suspension of the German data retention law in 2010: About 34 000 Germans have supported the appeal – at a population of more than 80 million. The number of 7 000 Austrian plaintiffs at a population of about 8 million is twice as much than in Germany.
Nevertheless some experts do not believe that the complaint will be successful in bringing down data retention in Austria. They claim that the Austrian Court is generally much more conservative in its rulings compared to the German judges and that the Austrian judges tend to rubber stamp what is determined by the EU.
The AK Vorrat activists are still quite optimistic about convincing the Constitutional Court. Their aim is not only to achieve a decision to reject the Austrian legislation for the implementation of data retention (as it happened in Germany or in the Czech Republic). They want to convince the Court that data retention per se is not compatible with fundamental rights at all.
The initiative represents among others EDRi member VIBE!AT, lawyers from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights and several activists. It is supported by green MP Albert Steinhauser. They call on for further support of the complaint.
All Austrian inhabitants who want to join the appeal are encouraged to send their declarations of support by 18 May 2012. Declaration forms are available at verfassungsklage.at
Also the citizens initiative is still open for support. All Austrians starting from the age of 16 can support the initiative online at zeichnemit.at
Source: EDRI-gram: "Thousands of Austrians standing up against data retention" Number 10.8, April 25, 2012