BERLIN – Restaurants and bars in Germany and their customers express concern over reports that contact data that guests must provide as part of the coronavirus prevention rules has been used for police investigations.
Drinkers and visitors must provide their name and telephone number to allow them to be tracked if someone is found to have a virus present at the same time.
But the DPA news agency quoted several police stations as saying that they had used the data to find witnesses to help resolve the crime.
Germany owes some of the toughest privacy laws in the world with its determination to dispel the scourge of the mass surveillance system that had been used by the Nazis or the East German secret police, Stasi.
“I work at a bank,” Dirk Apel, who eats at a restaurant in Bonn, told Reuters TV on Friday. “There, personal data is a big deal. Every little thing like birthdays is watched so that no one else can find out – basic ‘need-to-know’. And I think this is an abuse of trust.”
Thomas Lengfelder, managing director of the DEHOGA hotel and catering association, noted that cafe owners are not permitted to ask customers for formal identification, and said data reports used elsewhere would not encourage customers to comply with the rules.
“We cannot let someone play quickly and loose with the data,” he said. “Officials must be very aware of what they can use and what is not permitted.”
After a customer at a restaurant in Berlin tested positive for the virus recently, health officials had difficulty tracking down several other customers because many failed to give their names and numbers or were fake.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
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