Pressure on Minister of Justice Buschmann is growing
Berlin In the Debate about free access to the online commercial register and thus to sensitive company data demands the Economic Council of the CDU Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) to intervene. Secretary General Wolfgang Steiger told the Handelsblatt: “The Federal Minister of Justice must act immediately and set up the long overdue online register information in compliance with data protection.”
Otherwise, temporary access restrictions would have to be introduced until improvements are made, Steiger demanded. It seems as if “the otherwise often obstructive privacy been lifted overnight”.
Since August 1, it has been possible to view and download excerpts from the register of trade, cooperatives, partnerships and associations as well as notarial entries via the joint register portal of the federal states without user registration and retrieval fees. The EU digitization directive was thus implemented.
Since then, sensitive data of company directors and employees such as private addresses, dates of birth, bank details or scanned signatures have been accessible without restrictions. The entrepreneurs now fear the misuse of the data, economic damage and dangers for themselves and their families.
Top jobs of the day
Find the best jobs now and
be notified by email.
The CDU Economic Council also warns that the new access to the online commercial register opens the door to abuse. Secretary General Steiger said: “Every day of waiting in the Federal Ministry of Justice increases the likelihood of misuse of sensitive personal data many times over.” Data protection compliance should not be a foreign word for the Ministry of Justice.
“Management made it easy”
The CDU Economic Council praises the fact that with the implementation of the digitization directive, “after years of delay”, GmbH foundations and commercial register entries would finally be possible online. The resulting increasing transparency in economic life and the digitalization in public administration are “undoubtedly welcome”.
>> Read also: Lists of shareholders, places of residence and signatures online – New commercial register alarms entrepreneurs
With the new access to the online commercial register, however, the German administration made it too easy for itself and put the previous decentralized registers online “simply without taking data protection into account”. Steiger warned: “This is an immeasurable treasure trove of data for identity theft, fake accounts and fake orders. This is not how we create more acceptance for digitization.”
The proposal for a right to object to the publication of sensitive data is a sham solution. In this way, the responsibility is shifted to those affected and the actual problem is not solved.
After initial protests from business, the Federal Ministry of Justice promised to examine “whether and how” the disclosure of personal data could be reduced. When asked again, the ministry told the Handelsblatt: “The review is still ongoing.”
Nobody wants to be responsible
In the Government factions from the SPD, Greens and FDP are also in talks, but so far without result. SPD economic politician Falko Mohrs said: “We are currently in clarification and close contact with our coalition partners and the responsible Federal Ministry of Justice.” The design of such a digital commercial register must be carried out very thoroughly.
However, nobody really wants to take responsibility for the data protection problems. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for operating the register portal North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) on behalf of the federal and state governments.
That’s why the complaints from the economy end up collected at the NRW data protection officer Bettina Gayk. Their authority states that the question of how personal data published in the commercial register can be protected primarily concerns the legislative competence of the federal government. And the data protection advice of the federal legislature is provided by the Federal Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber.
Kelber’s authority, in turn, said on request: “If it should now become apparent in practice that data protection-compliant implementation is not possible, the federal states would have to notify the federal legislator.” Kelber would then advise the federal government accordingly on possible legal changes to the online commercial register. However, the Federal Data Protection Commissioner does not know whether the federal states have brought such a request to the federal government.
The NRW Ministry of Justice confirmed that no such notification had been made formally so far. However, it is in exchange with the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Dismay at the federal and state governments
The Munich entrepreneur André Ernst, as the managing director of the company “Das Datenhaus”, is personally affected by the new openness of the online commercial register on the one hand, and on the other hand he has to ensure the correct handling of sensitive data in his daily work. He is all the more appalled by the actions of the federal and state governments.
Ernst criticizes: “The ignorance of the authorities is simply unbelievable.” He is in conversation with the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision, the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Justice and the Federal Data Protection Officer. “Everyone pushes the responsibility onto the others,” says the company director. “In the end, I’d prefer to go to the district court.” Because here, according to the argument, the data has been digitized, and this is where the “data sovereignty” lies.
The entrepreneur is currently examining whether to take legal action against the new access to the online commercial register. “We need a solution now,” demanded Ernst.
The association “Die Familienunternehmer” also criticizes the inaction of the legislator: “So far, there has been no will from the Ministry of Justice and politics to find a satisfactory and quick solution,” said Managing Director Albrecht von der Hagen. “Since the topic is a burning issue for many entrepreneurs, the first legal steps are already being considered.”
More: Census Challenges – Software Problems and “Reich Citizens”