On May 24, 2012, the German Federal Government submitted to the Parliament (Bundestag) a proposal to amend the Geodatenzugangsgesetz, a federal law concerning access to geographical data that has been in force since 2009.
The current law implements Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (“INSPIRE”). In addition to establishing a national geographical data infrastructure, the law aims to provide a legal framework for (1) accessing geographical data, geographical data services and metadata of organizations that maintain such data, and (2) using such data and services, in particular with regard to measures that may affect the environment. The law applies to federal agencies and corporations under public law.
The amendment would create a legal basis for the largely free use of geographical data and metadata maintained by the German Federal State, thereby enhancing the “added-value potential” of such data and removing administrative hurdles with uniform and mandatory conditions of use. Although experts at both the national and state levels have been calling for a specific data protection law regulating the use of geographical data, thus far the German Federal Government has relied on self-regulation and on a draft data protection code for geographical data services which was signed in 2011.