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Anti-terrorism laws: Doctors can also be bugged
According to the new regulations for telephone surveillance that came into force in 2007, doctors may also be eavesdropped on. A doctor had complained. However, the Federal Constitutional Court dismissed these and other complaints from citizens and sided with the prosecutors. For the President of the German Medical Association, Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery, this decision is incomprehensible: "We call on politicians to stop the eavesdropping on us doctors."
New regulations are constitutional On Wednesday, a decision of the Federal Constitutional Court was published in which complaints about the new regulations for telephone surveillance were dismissed. The Karlsruhe judges decided that less surveillance protection should be approved for doctors compared to, for example, lawyers.
Medical association chief Montgomery, however, is critical of the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court. Confidentiality, right to refuse to testify and bans on eavesdropping are indispensable conditions of the medical profession. Patient protection must be guaranteed.
At the end of 2007, 19 criminal offenses justifying telephone surveillance were removed from the rules and 30 new ones were added. Newly added offenses include the acquisition, possession and distribution of child pornography. In addition, the protection of the private core area and the notification of those affected have been regulated by law.
The Federal Constitutional Court bases its decision on the fact that only particularly serious facts have been included in the criminal data catalog. According to the judges, privacy remains adequately protected. Other than that, very private conversations with pastors, defense lawyers, MPs and close relatives would not be monitored.
This does not apply to journalists, social pedagogues, psychologists and doctors. Courts can decide in individual cases whether surveillance is necessary and the information may be used. The Federal Constitutional Court stated that media freedom cannot have a fundamental priority over law enforcement.
Discussions with doctors are private, but may be listened to in individual cases. Discussions between doctor and patient are private and are subject to special protection. However, according to the Karlsruhe judges, the innermost core area of privacy does not necessarily touch. Very private conversations or sections of conversations must not be used anyway or must even be deleted.
Law enforcement is essential for the rule of law and its citizens. According to the judges, it is important that conversations are not excluded from surveillance in advance because private details could possibly be discussed. Effective law enforcement would then no longer be possible even in the case of particularly serious crimes.
Bundesärztekammer protests against the verdict The president of the Bundesärztekammer criticizes: "It is not understandable for us that the judges of the Federal Constitutional Court attach more importance to the protection of legitimate expectations in criminal lawyers than to the integrity of the patient-doctor relationship. We were therefore astonished to note that doctors are judicially downgraded to second-class professional secrets. "Montgomery sees the important relationship of trust between doctor and patient at risk and warns:" After the decision, doctors and their patients continue to run the risk of becoming the target of government eavesdropping . "(Ag)
Image: Sven L. / pixelio.de