BRUSSELS Aug 17 A member of Germany's
internet-savvy Pirate Party has appealed to the European Court
of Human Rights in Strasbourg over a German law ordering buyers
of pre-paid mobile phone cards to give formal identification.
Patrick Breyer, member of northern Germany's
Schleswig-Holstein regional parliament, filed the complaint,
along with his brother.
They are seeking to resolve the question of whether
anonymous communication falls under the European Convention on
Human Rights' right to private life.
This latest suit follows a February ruling by Germany's
Federal Constitutional Court that it was constitutional for
telecommunication providers to demand personal data to set up
Some European Union countries such as Germany, Denmark, and
France, have outlawed anonymous pre-paid cards to prevent their
use in criminal activities, but the Pirate Party says that
stifles a citizen's right to privacy and free speech.
"Now that big data is becoming the norm, we need to build
anonymity into our society, not out of our society. The ability
to stay anonymous and choose anonymity is crucial for creativity
and social development," Swedish Pirate Party MEP Amelia
Andersdotter told Reuters on Friday.
Separately, members of the Pirates party in Germany said on
Friday they had also filed charges against the finance minister
of North Rhine-Westphalia over the state's purchase of leaked
Swiss bank data to pursue tax evaders.
Germany's Breyer said in a statement that anonymous phone
calls were important for a range of legitimate activities, from
protecting journalistic sources to confidential business
He added that bans on anonymous purchasing do nothing to
prevent identity theft or the buying of cards by third parties.
EU states have been seeking to strike a balance between
retaining data for use by law enforcement agencies and
maintaining digital users' right to be forgotten in the bloc's
review of data protection legislation.
Private companies are also facing scrutiny as technology has
improved the ease of monitoring previously anonymous data
The Washington Post reported in July that popular internet
chat software Skype had made changes to make it easier for law
enforcement authorities to monitor calls.
Skype, owned by Microsoft since 2011, denied the
claims saying that changes to their software architecture were
part of a planned upgrade to improve user experience and
The European Court will review Breyer's complaint, but said
a verdict could take up to three years.
(Editing by Patrick Graham)