Germany's strict privacy laws prevent the widespread usage of surveillance cameras, but the coalition government on Wednesday approved regulation that could change things.
While the proposed laws will still give Germany's states and city states the final say on whether to allow or ban CCTV cameras in public areas, they will "force data protection commissioners to give greater weight than before to 'the protection of life, health, and freedom' when deciding whether to permit video surveillance," The Guardian reports. The initiative is not a result of Monday's attack against a Christmas market in Berlin, but rather the attempted suicide bombing in Ansbach and a mass shooting in Munich this past July.
In Berlin, there are 15,000 CCTV cameras installed on vehicles, with more than 3,000 capable of being switched to live transmission, but police cannot install cameras in public spaces that transmit live images due to data privacy regulations. Bodo Pfalzgraf of the German police union told The Guardian that "better and more intelligence surveillance" is needed in public places, especially after Monday's deadly attack. "We would know a lot more about the perpetrator by now if we had been allowed to install video cameras on Breitscheidplatz square," he said. "We couldn't have prevented the attack, but our investigation would be more advanced by now. CCTV can save lives." Critics of surveillance say this statement is merely hypothetical, and it's more important to have additional police officers on the streets.