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Hesse: Constitutionality of police data analysis tool put before Constitutional Court

The Hessen data protection authority ('HBDI') issued, on 21 December 2022, a press release noting that the constitutionality of Section 25a of the Hessian Security and Order Act ('HSOG'), that enables the Hessian police to analyse all data stored by them in order to prevent serious crimes, has been put before the Federal Constitutional Court, following complaints. In particular, the HBDI stated that the police has been using an analysis software from the US company Palantir, whereby several data protection issues have been identified, including the wide range and scope of the analysis tool and the broad range of persons allowed access to collected data.

More specifically, with regard to the scope of the analysis tool, the HBDI noted that it enables access to all data from radio cell searches, which record all persons who have been in a certain spatial area with a mobile phone at a certain time, and also evaluates all data from the police documentation system, in which all incidents that the police have to deal with are documented, from investigations and criminal offences to unsubstantiated suspicions. As such, the HBDI highlighted that this gives rise to a risk that many people are involved in police investigations who should not be.

In this regard, Hessian Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Alexander Roßnagel, expressed the view that the constitutional problems envisaged under Section 25a of the HSOG stem from its broad scope, making it 'difficult to set limits in practice' and that the large volumes of data from bystanders, who are unaware of the collection of their data and have no chance to avoid being recorded, is problematic. Notably, the HBDI stated that following the instruction of Roßnagel as an expert in the case, the judgment of the First Senate is now awaited in the next few months.

You can read the press release, only available in German, here.