German Cabinet Approves Measure to Give Consumer Groups Right to File Privacy Suits

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By Jabeen Bhatti

Feb. 9 — The German Cabinet recently adopted a bill for introduction to Parliament that would allow consumer groups to sue companies for unlawful use of customer data and other data protection violations.

At present, only individuals affected by alleged data protection violations can take action in Germany, and consumer groups can only file suit concerning unfair consent declarations or standard contract terms.

Under the bill, which was approved Feb. 4, consumer protection groups would be entitled to issue warnings and to file court complaints seeking injunctions for unlawful processing of consumer data by businesses. The draft measure, which comes a year after it was announced as a legislative proposal by the government, wouldn't allow the groups to seek damages.

German Justice and Consumer Protection Minister Heiko Maas announced the proposed amendment to Germany's Act on Applications for an Injunction in February 2014. His ministry submitted a first draft of the bill for consultation in August 2014.

Shortly after, attorneys told Bloomberg BNA that the change might cause “havoc” because the courts might take a different view of relevant laws than had data protection authorities.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jabeen Bhatti in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald G. Aplin at

The bill is available, in German, at