German Government Approves Plan To Share Information With US

Germany Wednesday approved a disputed plan to share more information on terror suspects with the U.S. in a deal Washington hopes will be a model for cooperation with other countries. Separately, the cabinet also granted sweeping new powers to federal police for online searches of computers to prevent terror attacks and other serious crimes, in a second measure that has raised hackles among civil libertarians. The measure agreed in March with Washington eliminates much of the red tape investigators now face when requesting information on terror suspects. If the person in question is found in the other country’s records, authorities can request fingerprints and personal information. But the draft law sets higher hurdles for supplying certain information such as the suspect’s membership of a trade union or their sexual orientation, stipulating such facts could only be provided when they are “particularly relevant” to an investigation. Privacy rights activists, opposition parties and Social Democrats insisted on clauses that would head off potential abuse such as requiring data no longer needed to be wiped from the records and establishing rules for correcting false data. The bill, which still needs parliamentary approval, comes nine months after German authorities uncovered a plot to attack U.S. interests and citizens in Germany, including U.S. military installations, after U.S. intelligence passed on information to Berlin.