Best of Freedom of Information: Please contact us on request

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From six months before the federal election, parties and groups of voters may request data from those entitled to vote from the population register and use it for the election campaign. The registration offices must provide the names and addresses of possible voters: on request according to the Federal Registration Act issue. The parties must ask for the request on the basis of age groups, for example all names and addresses of first-time voters: inside a municipality between the ages of 18 and 20 or all persons in a municipality who are older than 67 years.

Free information is a prerequisite for democracy. Hence: The “Best of Freedom of Information”, every two weeks, by Arne Semsrott. He is the project manager of FragDenStaat and a freelance journalist. He works on the subjects of freedom of information, transparency, lobbying and migration policy.

The data can only be used for election campaigns and not for membership campaigns or other purposes – the NPD has in the past, for example, data from the population register was used – But whether the data will be deleted after the election campaign, as prescribed one month after the election, is hardly checked.

The Federal Registration Act, on which the whole procedure is based and also enables address book publishers, the press and radio, religious societies and the Bundeswehr to access registration data, seems to have fallen out of date. It comes from a time when the General Data Protection Regulation did not exist for a long time – and established free access to private data as the standard. Even outside of the election campaign, all people can find out, for a fee, the private residence of other people in Germany from the population register.

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This is the opposite of data protection. And it is simply bizarre how time-consuming it is to defend yourself against the informative population registers. While in the case of information to parties it is still sufficient to object to the disclosure to the relevant register of residents (preferably in writing, forms are available from, for example), the registers oppose setting up complete registration blocks for individuals.

Countless people who are active against Nazis, for example, and could end up on an enemy list, have a violent ex-partner or are in public as journalists or politicians, complain (mostly non-public, because you don’t want more Attracting attention) that their registration bans have been denied. A recent amendment to the Federal Registration Act, which was supposed to facilitate registration bans, remained too vague and did not change anything.

The hurdles for a registration ban are high: Resident registers like to argue that it is not enough to be threatened soon. Anyone who wants the register no longer to pass on their own private address to strangers must be able to prove specific threats. So that means: If it is already too late, you will be blocked from reporting. Prevention nil.

Another popular argument from the authorities fits in with this: You would have been registered at your place of residence for a long time – if another person had wanted to call up the address, they would probably have already done so.

Then usually only a lawyer can help: in, to enforce a registration ban – and a change in the law. Because the standard of address information should be abolished. Home addresses are private unless there is a legitimate interest in knowing them.

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