A law that allows Germany’s migration authorities to access refugees’ phones will now be challenged in court. Three refugees — from Syria, Afghanistan and Cameroon — have decried what they see it as a violation of rights. The three migrants in Germany are suing the state for accessing personal data on their mobile phones. A civil rights group taking part in the action says the phone searches are a serious invasion of privacy. The lawsuit was filed by Berlin-based Society for Civil Rights (GFF), which argued that the German state had violated the refugees’ human rights. GFF lawyers said the suits were filed in the cities of Hanover, Berlin and Stuttgart on behalf of the three refugees and according to reports from German Funke media group newspapers.
2017 law was put in place to prevent asylum fraud by all migrants in Germany, authorities are legally allowed to examine the phones of asylum seekers who lack valid identity documentation and the BAMF was disregarding the constitutional rules when accessing personal data despite information given on the refugees being factual. The migration agency had used analysis software to access data, contacts, phone numbers, photos, apps, website addresses and email addresses of the refugees. The information from the phones allowed the office to draw “comprehensive conclusions about the refugees’ user behaviour,” GFF noted.
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A BAMF spokesman said the ministry conceded that checking mobile data was an intrusion, but said every case was determined by strict rules. According to the news agency, a spokesman for BAMF said it was aware that checking mobile data was an intrusion and every case was determined by strict rules. A mobile phone is often the only, or a very important, source to establish the identity and nationality of people entering Germany without a passport or identification documents.It has been argued that BAMF need to use other methods of fetching information and that mobile phone reading should be a last resort.