Thousands of people have gathered in the center of Munich to protest against the introduction of sweeping new surveillance powers, including the opening of mail, for German police.
Police now estimate that 30,000 people have turned out for the protest – a figure far in excess of the 7,000 expected by event organizers.
Some 65 organizations, including opposition parties Greens, SPD and FDP, oppose the planned Police Task Force Act (PAG). The legislation would allow authorities to open letters, survey apartments as well as scan email and telephone conversations.
The new law is intended to give investigators more powers to search through citizens’ private correspondence in cases where danger is considered “imminent.” However, critics have warned that the term is too vague and is open to manipulation by police looking to gain spying powers in cases that do not warrant their use.
Bavaria’s ruling CSU party has come in for criticism from opposition parties over its increased emphasis on security. “The surveillance mania of the CSU endangers our liberties,” said Green politician Katharina Schulze in the state parliament, according to Munich newspaper Abend Zeitung.
Under the law, police will also be allowed to place a person under “preventative detention” for renewable periods of up to three months without trial. It’s considered the toughest police law introduced in Germany since the end of World War II, according to Deutsche Welle. The law is set to be approved by the state parliament on May 15.