Saturday – April 31 2012 – Kawther Salam,
About three thousand Austrian protesters held a funeral March with prayers against the implementation of the “Data Retention Law” (Spying law) from the first of April 2012 in Austria. The demonstrators carried symbolic “Privacy” coffins to express their anger against the disrespect of the government for their privacy and personal data. The coffins were wrapped in black flags and in the Austrian and European flags.
The new law allows the state to spy on everybody by the storing all communications data of Internet, telephone and SMS connections of everybody in Austria. Under the law, which was foisted on the country by the EU and decided last year in the Parliament, the Internet and telephone service providers must store all connection data of all its customers for a period of six months. The data of each phone call, of every text message and every email, is stored – that is, who communicates and with whom, and where and when, without the need that there be any concrete suspicion.
During six months, the State (intelligence and internal security) has the right to look at the saved data and reach deep into the private communications of anybody. While the official line of the government is that this will only happen “when deemed necessary and by a judiciary decision”, the fact is that the latest “upgrade” of the law regulating police powers (Sicherheitspolizeigesetz) lets them do something called “preventive investigation”, what means that they can initiate surveillance on anybody without having to demonstrate probable cause of any kind and without the intervention of a judge or prosecutor.
For intelligence systems it is always “necessary” to spy on certain groups which naturally arouse their suspicion. These groups are normally people who look or behave different from what these authorities consider “normal”, and groups of people who are suspect because they could endanger the sitting powers – politically interested people, activists, journalists, certain lawyers, certain religious groups, and in general people who are “smarter than the police allows”.
(Click on the small images to enlarge them). According to the demonstrators, but also well-known jurists and politicians, the new law is against the constitution of Austria, against the fundamental rights of the Austrians and against the democratic vaules of the people of this country. It is a massive intrusion into the rights of privacy and to be presumed innocent of every citizen, rights which are specifically guaranteed in the constitution. The implementation of this law violates the human right to privacy and to be presumed innocent which are fundamental human rights specified in the UN Charter, which Austria has signed and ratified. The adduced reason of this fascist law is “the fight against crime”. However, there is no evidence of any benefits related to crime fighting arising from keeping data stores on citizens. The constitutional courts of several countries of Europe, Germany, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania have ruled that data retention laws similar to the one which will now be implemented in Austria are unconstitutional.
The Austrian Green Party in cooperation with the AKVorrat work group  is preparing to bring complaint against data retention law before the constitutional court, and a complaint has already been entered by the federal state of Carinthia. During the demo which took place Saturday in Vienna, Linz and Salzburg, flyer’s were distributed in the streets, informing passers-by and asking them to join the planned constitutional complaint. The possibility of signing up is open until 18 May 2012. AKVorrat has entered a have a working group on data retention in collaboration with Albert Steinhauser, a National Council member for the Greens. The working group is committed to a respect for fundamental rights, and the implementation of data retention is not consistent with the fundamental human rights.
The protest march in Vienna started at Christian Broda Square near the Western Railway Station (“Westbahnhof”). The demonstrators carried coffins symbolizing the burial of privacy. Many of them wore black cloths and covered their faces with masks and black veils. The protest march was started by playing funeral music pieces from various authors – they were played during all the march. The protest march went until parliament, where the protest organizers gave speeches in which they criticized the implementation of the new law.
The unison demand: No data retention in Europe! No data retention in Austria! Austria will fight against the Data Retention Directive!