German Court Endorses Online Privacy Rights

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Digital rights activists Wednesday celebrated reports of a decision by Germany's Constitutional Court that limits authorities' ability to secretly collect data from individuals' personal computers.

The ruling allows security authorities to use techniques such as spy software only in certain cases, and only with judicial permission. The decision, by Germany's highest court, is widely seen as establishing a right to privacy.

"The ruling is a great success for digital rights and civil liberties in Germany," said Markus Beckedahl, blogger at, which deals Internet-users' rights.

"It is now clear that our computers are protected, and that wasn't the case in the minds of our politicians," said Beckedahl.

The German politicians wanted to do much more, according to Beckedahl. "It was pretty crazy for a while, now it can only be used in very special situations," he said.

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