The Hessian police are the focus of the affair surrounding right-wing extremist threatening letters, mostly signed with “NSU 2.0”, which were preceded by requests for sensitive personal data of those affected via law enforcement computers. In addition to the criminal investigation agency and the public prosecutor, the incidents are also being investigated by Michael Ronellenfitsch, the Hessian data protection officer. The procedures for this are “in very different stages,” a spokeswoman told heise online.
The number of cases in which the supervisory authority initiated investigations and against whom they were directed was not known. However, the processes are “not yet complete”. The data protection authority generally receives reports of data protection violations from the police on the basis of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Hessian Data Protection Act. He was also responsible for imposing sanctions and fines, for example, on the basis of improper data queries by Hessian police officers.
Fines for violations
According to his Activity report 2019 An employee of the public order office had to pay 150 euros after having carried out an electronic resident registration query for a person without a business occasion. A police officer who took a photo of a criminal complaint and forwarded it to members of a club board via WhatsApp’s group chat received a fine of 500 euros. A year ago, Hessian police officers also requested 83 personal data from Helene Fischer during a performance by the pop star in Frankfurt.
Hesse’s Interior Minister Peter Beuth (CDU) had announced in mid-July that he knew of 69 threatening emails and faxes with references to NSU 2.0. The non-public data used by the Frankfurt lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız, the left-wing politician Janine Wissler and the cabaret artist Idil Baydar had apparently been queried beforehand via Hessian police computers in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden. So far, a temporal, but no causal connection has been established.
“A step in the right direction”
“It is important that the police provide information,” Ronellenfitsch sees, above all, the investigators themselves and politicians. Against the background of the current incidents, it had been shown that the previous instructions for securing the databases and controlling access were “not sufficient”. The inspector described the new catalog of measures recently presented by Beuth to seal the systems and to make the automatic sampling control for data queries more closely, “a further step in the right direction”.
According to the time the threatening letters are apparently related to the senders “NSU 2.0” and “National Socialist Offensive”. The perpetrators therefore use “encryption and foreign mail providers” such as the Russian service Yandex, “which the German investigators cannot access”. It appears to be at least two offenders with pseudonyms such as “Wehrmacht” and “Stahlgewitter”. In several cases, the letters contained “confidential police and judicial data, but not others”. The former police officer Hermann S., who was recently arrested in Bavaria, is probably not behind it.