Suspicion of police data leaks: victim counseling demands controls

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, cases are mounting in which police officers are suspected of having passed on sensitive data to right-wing extremists.

Will have to deal with the state data protection officer: Police in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Photo: dpa

Do police pass on personal data without permission? In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, at least, some things point to this. Kay Bolick of Lobbi, the statewide victim counseling service "Assistance and Information for Victims of Right-Wing Violence," knows of cases. Most recently, a woman turned to Lobbi. She had reported a racist incident to the police and then got an unpleasant phone call. "It wasn’t a long conversation," Bolick says. But the message to the woman called was clear, he says. Explosive: The caller must have gotten the contact information, Bolick says, from the police.

Not an isolated case: In Greifswald, a police officer is being investigated for several possible violations of the State Data Protection Act. He is said to have tried to obtain personal data without any official reason. Those affected by these data retrievals fear, says Bolick, that the information could be used to spy on political opponents* and that the data might even have been passed on to people from the right-wing spectrum. And in Stralsund, the public prosecutor’s office confirmed that a police officer tried to obtain data. In vain, because he failed due to the information block imposed. The case against him was dropped.

Throughout Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, police officers have been involved in such data retrievals on several occasions. For example, data on vehicle owners was obtained and apparently passed on. During the investigation into the right-wing network "Nordkreuz", for example, the police found an address and an apartment floor plan, both of which are suspected to have come from official sources. A police officer who is alleged to have been involved in passing on the data has since been suspended.

Last spring, at least five people affected had filed charges because in a Facebook group, group members from the right-wing spectrum were able to disclose information about other members of the group – such as clear names and addresses – some of which was not publicly available. "As a result, the police officer who has now been suspended came into focus," says Bolick, because he "was a member of the Facebook group at times and openly sympathized with the AfD and with right-wing positions." "After a year, we finally expect consequences for the officer and precautions at the police so that something like this does not happen again," demanded one of the victims in conversation with the victim counseling Lobbi.

A toothless tiger

The state data protection authority now wants to investigate the various cases independently of the public prosecutors. The data protectors want to analyze the logs that the police keep of all database accesses. This tiger is somewhat toothless: at the end of a misdemeanor procedure, a fine could be imposed.

For Bolick, this is too little. He calls for regular checks by the officers and wants those affected to be informed on an ongoing basis whether they are in danger.

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