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German high court bars police database trawls for terror suspects without cause

[JURIST] German police may not trawl databases to identify possible terrorists without a specific threat to national security, human life or freedom, the German Constitutional Court [official website] ruled Tuesday. "A general threat situation, of the kind that has existed continuously in regard to terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001, or external political tensions, is not sufficient," the high court said. Police had previously been able to use a wide range of electronic databases - including records from health insurance companies, real estate agents and utility companies - to profile and identify foreign Muslim men, who were then investigated. The lawsuit was brought by a 27-year-old Moroccan student whose identity was not disclosed.

The practice was an attempt to ferret out terrorist sleeper cells like the one based in Hamburg that led the 9/11 attacks on the United States. The ruling will require seven of Germany's 16 states to revise their police laws. Reuters has more. Deutsche Welle has local coverage.

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