Prospects on Germany's Digital Landscape in the Next Four Years: What Does the Coalition Agreement Say on Technology?

by White & Case LLP

Following the German federal election on September 22, 2013, the Christian Democratic Party, the Christian Social Union and the Social Democratic Party decided to take up coalition talks for the formation of a new government led by the current chancellor-in-charge, Christian Democratic Union's party leader Angela Merkel. The negotiations ended with a coalition agreement (the "Coalition Agreement").1 While promptly ratified by the representatives of the Christian Democratic Party and the Christian Social Union, the Social Democratic Party decided for a ballot vote of its members over the Coalition Agreement, and reached a favorable vote on December 14, 2013. Accordingly, the Coalition Agreement was formally signed by the parties on December 16, 2013. While legally non-binding, the Coalition Agreement outlines the broad policy lines the new government will follow in the next four years, and as part of that sets the framework for Germany's future digital landscape. This article provides an outline thereto.

Digital Society
Technology and innovation are recurring key topics throughout the Coalition Agreement, which stipulates a "country with a digital culture". While this term refers in first instance to the digitalization of Germany's cultural heritage, it characterizes German technology policy in general. Digital growth is seen as a key factor for economic wealth, and the importance of a national information and communication strategy (ITK-Strategie) is highlighted. The prospective government commits to support top-level research in this field, and to foster businesses with digital technologies. This includes intelligent power supply networks (Smart Grid), E-Health, Cloud Computing and Big Data. Media literacy is seen as a key competency for all citizens.

Technology Infrastructure
Fast and secure broadband networks are seen as key for innovation, growth and employment. The Coalition Agreement commits to a strong German and European telecommunications and IT industry to answer the global commercial and security policy challenges. Key aspects include:

  • Country-wide broadband supply with at least 50 Mbit/s by 2018 through encouraging investments, reducing investment barriers and setting appropriate regulatory frameworks.
  • Boosting Wifi availability in the public space, while clarifying the legal basis of open networks (especially regarding liability), as well as supporting the development of local, decentralized networks.

Data Privacy and Data Security
The Coalition Agreement emphasizes the meaning of data privacy and data security in the digital world. Leading topics for the next four years include:

  • The government commits to further negotiate and to adopt the proposed EU General Data Protection Regulation to implement an EU-wide consistent level of data protection,2 comparable to the current German level.
  • Full national implementation of EU Directive 2006/24/EC on data retention, which sets the framework for the storage and use of data for the purpose of prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution (Vorratsdatenspeicherung), whereby the German government will work towards a three months storage period on EU level.3
  • Promotion of technologies to allow businesses profiling activities without the need to collect specific personal data. Non-anonymous profiling will be subject to narrow statutory boundaries. The use of scoring methods of businesses has to be notified to the authorities going forward.
  • Consumer protection associations shall be entitled to issue warnings for data protection law breaches and to bring actions for injunctions.
  • Better protection of the data of children and underage persons in social media through effective statutory protection, as well as amendments to the criminal laws to better protect individuals against cybermobbing, cybergrooming and phishing.
  • Creation of an IT security law with binding minimum IT security standards for critical infrastructures. It will be mandatory to notify security incidents to the Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik).4 The capacity of the Federal Office for Information Security will be strengthened, and all federal authorities will be obliged to invest ten percent of their IT spend in the security of their systems. Investments in end-to-end encryption technologies, an email encryption standard (DE-Mail) and other security technologies will be supported. Further, IT suppliers shall be held liable for data privacy and IT security defects of their products.
  • The European standards on consumer protection and data privacy shall be leveraged into the contemplated EU-US Free Trade Agreement.
  • The government will seek for further clarification whether and, if so, to what extent foreign intelligence services are eavesdropping on German citizens and the government. Communications and communication infrastructure shall become more secure, and European telecommunication services providers will be obliged to encrypt telecommunication connections at least within the European Union and will be prohibited to forward telecommunication data to foreign intelligence services.
  • The government will promote a European-wide notification duty for businesses that transfer customer data to authorities in non-European countries without the customer's consent, and will further urge for renegotiations of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework and the SWIFT Agreement.

While all such measures are considered emphasizing the importance of data privacy and data security, the Stifung Datenschutz, an independent agency founded in January 2013 to promote data privacy through public education, shall be integrated in the Stiftung Warentest, an independent agency generally concerned with consumer protection through product testing. This is widely seen as a "downgrade".

Within the field of E-Commerce, consumer protection aspects are underscored. Mobile commerce shall be developed in a consumer-friendly way, including transparent presentation on mobile devices and the possibility to return apps.

In conclusion, digital growth is high on the agenda of the Coalition Agreement, and technology will continue to be a key topic in the next four years. At the same time, data privacy standards will be on the rise, and businesses are well advised to closely monitor and assess those.

1 - The Coalition Agreement has the title: "Deutschlands Zukunft gestalten – Koalitionsvertrag zwischen CDU, CSU und SPD – 18. Legislaturperiode", and is available on the webpage of the Christian Democratic Party at (last accessed December 14, 2013).
2 - A concise overview on the topic can be found on the following sub-page of the European Commission: (last accessed December 14, 2013).
3 - It has to be noted, however, that the Data Retention Directive is under review by the Court of Justice of the European Union in pending cases C-293/12 and C-594/12, and that Advocate General Cruz Villalón has held the Directive to be incompatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights in his final opinion rendered (see press release of the Court of Justice of the European Union dated December 12, 2013, available at (last accessed December 16, 2013)).
4 - English version of the webpage of the Federal Office for Information Security: (last accessed December 14, 2013).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© White & Case LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.