Brandenburg’s Interior Minister Michael Stübgen (CDU) is sticking to the planned reactivation of automatic license plate recognition on motorways despite concerns in the red-black-green coalition. “If our police are to successfully fight and punish organized crime and drug smuggling, they also need the necessary resources,” said Stübgen of the German press agency. For legal reasons, it is not aiming for the previous scope of the controversial instrument. “The possibility of recording would be limited, but it would still be an important aid to the work of the police.”
The license plate detection in Brandenburg (Kesy) became known in 2019 when searching for Rebecca, who had disappeared in Berlin. At Kesy there is the recording for the search for specific criminals and the massive automatic recording. The state data protection officer Dagmar Hartge 2020 classified the recording mode as inadmissible. After that, the police only saved data for a maximum of three months. A new code of criminal procedure has been in force since July 2021. The mass recording of license plates has been stopped because, according to the Interior Ministry, it is no longer fully legally covered. However, the registration number for the search continues. According to the ministry, it was used in three cases in 2020.
Need for discussion and major concern
The Minister of the Interior is planning a new legal regulation for number plate recognition in recording mode. “So far, the use was justified by the code of criminal procedure, which has been changed,” said Stübgen. “That’s why we want a state law regulation. There is only a reduced approach that we have worked out very carefully. It’s not the old Kesy, but comes very close to the use in danger prevention.” According to the Minister, the planned new regulation is in the preliminary vote. He admitted: “There is still no agreement between the coalition partners. That will take time.”
The Greens in the state parliament have major concerns. “Nothing has changed in our critical stance on the use of Kesy in recording mode,” said domestic policy spokeswoman Marie Schäffer. The SPD parliamentary group also has a need for discussion: “With regard to the recording mode of the Kesy system, the proportionality must be weighed up in relation to the permanent recording and storage of data against the success of the police investigation,” said SPD domestic politician Inka Gossmann-Reetz . But it is also certain that the data protection concerns of 2.5 million Brandenburgers, more than half of whom have a car, should not be left out here.
The opposition AfD parliamentary group is open to action under certain conditions. “Especially with regard to veil searches and investigations in the area of organized crime, the advantages outweigh the application,” said domestic policy spokeswoman Lena Kotré. The AfD attaches importance to the fact that Kesy must be legally permissible. In addition, data protection must be given sufficient consideration, especially with regard to storage times.