On May 3, 2013, the German Federal Council (Bundesrat) passed a new bill regarding access to telecom user data, such as names, addresses, passwords and credit card PIN codes. This comes after the German Federal Diet (Bundestag) passed the German government’s bill on March 21, 2013, which amends, among other laws, Germany’s Federal Telecommunications Act.

The bill sets out the circumstances under which German law enforcement and intelligence agencies can access telecom user data. Notably, access will now be permitted not only in the context of suspected criminal offenses but also in the context of suspected administrative offenses (e.g., a traffic offense such as speeding). Commercial telecommunications service providers with more than 100,000 users are also required to make an electronic interface available to facilitate access to the telecom user data.

An earlier law which sought to regulate this area was curtailed by the German Federal Constitutional Court. In response, the bill seeks to address the Constitutional Court’s concerns. To become law, the bill must be signed by the German Federal President and published in the official legal gazette. Following that, and subject to any further challenges before the Constitutional Court, the proposed new law is expected to become effective on July 1, 2013.