04.05.21

Gemini version available ♊︎

EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Part 7: Ms Voßhoff Alerts the Bundestag…

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series index:

  1. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 1: How the Bundestag Was (and Continues to be) Misled About EPO Affairs
  2. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 2: Lack of Parliamentary Oversight, Many Questions and Few Answers…
  3. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 3: A “Minor Interpellation” in the German Bundestag
  4. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 4: Parroting the GDPR-Compliance Myth
  5. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 5: The Federal Eagle’s Disconcerting Metamorphosis
  6. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Part 6: Dr Petri Starts the Ball Rolling…
  7. You are here ☞ Ms Voßhoff Alerts the Bundestag…

Federal Data Protection Commissioner

Summary: In July 2015, the Federal Data Protection Commissioner notified the Bundestag of her concerns

As is well known, the EPO made headlines in Germany in June 2015 following revelations about covert surveillance conducted by the Benoît Battistelli‘s notorious "Investigative Unit" which was reported to have deployed hidden cameras and key loggers in a manner that would have been illegal under EU and national data protection law in Germany.

Media reports about the EPO spy-scandal persuaded Ms Voßhoff to dust off the EPO file and renew her efforts to have this rogue organisation called to account by the Federal German authorities.

“Media reports about the EPO spy-scandal persuaded Ms Voßhoff to dust off the EPO file and renew her efforts to have this rogue organisation called to account by the Federal German authorities.”In July 2015, Ms Voßhoff proceeded to write to Ms Renate Kunast, the Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of the German Federal Parliament (the “Bundestag”) to bring her concerns to the attention of German parliamentarians.

The text of Ms Voßhoff’s letter [PDF] reads as follows (in translation):

I was made aware of the issue of the lack of independent external data protection supervision of the European Patent Office (EPO) by the Bavarian State Commissioner for Data Protection.

My efforts to improve data protection supervision at the EPO have so far been have so far been unsuccessful.

I would therefore like to draw the attention of the German Bundestag to the problem.

The European Patent Office is an organ of the European Patent Organisation (EPO) established by the European Patent Convention (EPC) and endowed with legal personality. It is therefore a supranational institution based on an international treaty with its headquarters in Munich and offices in The Hague, Berlin, Vienna and Brussels. Vienna and Brussels with about 6,800 employees. The contracting states are 38 European countries, including all EU member states.

The legal nature of the EPO means that there is no data protection supervision by an independent external body. Neither the Bavarian State Commissioner for Data Protection nor I can derive any competence from state or federal data protection law. The EPO is neither a public body of the State of Bavaria nor of the Federal Republic of Germany. The European Data Protection Supervisor is also ruled out as an independent supervisory body, as the EPO is neither an institution nor a body of the European Union.

Even if, according to the EPO’s internal data protection officer, internal data protection regulations have been in place at the EPO since 1992, in particular based on the Data Protection Directive 95/46 EC, a lack of independent external data protection supervision is also taken as given from the EPO perspective.

In the interest of safeguarding the data protection rights of those affected, I have contacted the responsible Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) with the request to examine measures to close this supervisory and oversight gap, for example by means of a corresponding amendment to the EPC.

The BMJV has not yet taken up this suggestion. It refers to the necessity of a diplomatic conference of all 38 contracting states of the EPC for such an institutional reform of the EPC. This time-consuming procedure would not permit an amendment in the short term.

However, the Federal Ministry of Justice gives an assurance that it will continue to advocate, within the scope of its possibilities, compliance with and further development of high data protection standards and an independent data protection structure in its committee work within the EPO.

Although I have some understanding for the BMJV’s position, the permanent absence of an independent external supervisory authority for data protection matters nevertheless poses a risk – that should not be underestimated – to the fundamental right to informational self-determination of the persons concerned given the processing of a large amount of personal data of applicants and staff at the EPO.

This risk is rendered apparent by a case that has now received press coverage. In an article dated 8 June 2015 (see attachment), the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported allegations that two publicly accessible computers at the EPO were placed under surveillance with so-called keyloggers and video cameras without the persons concerned being informed. Due to the current legal situation, no independent data protection supervisory authority can investigate these allegations.

Moreover, those potentially affected, in particular members of the Administrative Council, patent attorneys, employees and visitors to the EPO, lack any possibility of turning to an independent body capable of enforcing their rights to informational self-determination.

In view of the prevailing factual and legal situation, I would be grateful if the Legal Affairs Committee would address the issue in a supportive manner.

The Legal Affairs Committee of the Bundestag reacted to Ms Voßhoff’s letter by placing the matter on its agenda for a meeting scheduled to take place in October 2015 [PDF].

It seemed that the Legal Affairs Committee was gearing up to investigate the worrying “supervisory and oversight gap” identified by Ms Voßhoff.

“As far as can be determined from the available evidence, the authors of this intrigue were the duplicitous Tweedledum and Tweedledee duo of the EPO‑Federal Justice Ministry nexus, Raimund Lutz and Christoph Ernst.”However, as we shall see in due course, Ms Voßhoff’s efforts to have the deficiencies in the EPO’s data protection framework subjected to meaningful parliamentary scrutiny were derailed by what appears to have been a nefarious behind-the-scenes intrigue.

As far as can be determined from the available evidence, the authors of this intrigue were the duplicitous Tweedledum and Tweedledee duo of the EPO‑Federal Justice Ministry nexus, Raimund Lutz and Christoph Ernst.

Before delving into the details of the intrigue which derailed Ms Voßhoff’s initiative, we will make a detour to look more closely at these two individuals and their respective roles in EPO affairs over the last two decades.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 28/9/2021: New Fedora Beta and LibreOffice's 11th Anniversary

    Links for the day



  2. [Meme] Joining Red Hat After Jim Whitehurst Left

    The screenshots above are minutes old; insiders don’t think too highly of long-term careers at Red Hat (the latter seems to be the same person as the former)



  3. IPFS: The Good, the Bad, and the Exceptionally Ugly

    A personal and occasionally arduous experience with a whole year of IPFS; it may come across — on the surface at least — as an unconstructive rant, but IPFS is still a promising technology, albeit it has severe limitations that need to be properly understood (some can be technically overcome, too)



  4. Links 28/9/2021: GnuCash 4.7 and SuperTuxKart 1.3 Release

    Links for the day



  5. IRC Proceedings: Monday, September 27, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, September 27, 2021



  6. Links 28/9/2021: Inkscape 1.1.1 and 4MLinux 37.1 Release

    Links for the day



  7. “What the Heli, Battistelli?”

    "Ms Pyjamas" (Heli) and Ms Bergot, a notoriously "strong lady" (for marrying the 'right' man?)



  8. When It Comes to UPC, EPO is Still Stuck in Pre-Brexit Mindset (More Than Half a Decade in the Past)

    The sheer lunacy of Team UPC is up on display and the EPO links to a “webinar” from 5.5 years ago; they’re still living in a fantasy world



  9. Links 27/9/2021: Q4OS 4, Windows Breaks Itself

    Links for the day



  10. [Meme] Route de France

    At the EPO, facts catch up with you



  11. [Meme] Tech Companies: No Friends of Women

    Just another reminder that companies like IBM do not actually care about women; they are misusing genuine feminism for corporate objectives



  12. Links 27/9/2021: OpenSSH 8.8, Martine OS 2.0 and Airyx 0.2.2 Reviewed

    Links for the day



  13. GNU Turns 38 (Midday Today or 12:35:59 EST) and RMS Talks to Polish Medical Professionals This Evening

    Today GNU turns 38. Last week over 5,000 people watched the RMS talk in Ukraine using our WebM version of it; in a few hours RMS will speak in Poland and we’ll try to find a stream if one becomes available (we shall update this page).



  14. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, September 26, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, September 26, 2021



  15. Links 27/9/2021: Librem 14 Reviewed, Linux 5.15 RC3 is Out

    Links for the day



  16. Links 26/9/2021: GNU Wget2 2.0.0 and MenuLibre 2.2.3 Released

    Links for the day



  17. How Basic Laws and Fundamental Rights Got Crushed in the European Patent Office

    Our next series will show the sheer hypocrisy of the EPO, hiding behind the veil of (patent) law while so shamelessly violating just about every law in the books without facing any form of accountability



  18. Regrettable Acts of Self-Harm: OpenMandriva and Mozilla Being Outsourced to Microsoft Proprietary Software and Monopoly

    In another blow to software freedom, OpenMandriva and Mozilla decide to abandon their own systems and use proprietary software from Microsoft instead



  19. Links 26/9/2021: Mozilla Spends on PR, OpenMandriva Outsourcing to Microsoft

    Links for the day



  20. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, September 25, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, September 25, 2021



  21. Links 25/9/2021: GNU/Linux Recognition in Mainstream Media and Wine-Staging 6.18

    Links for the day



  22. Reminder: GNU Turns 38 This Monday Around Midday (When GNU's Founder Gives Talk in Poland)

    With media and Torvalds speaking again about anniversaries (this has gone on for the past week because Torvalds wrote about it yet again), it is important to recall the announcement that got the ball rolling and basically started it all (the GNU/Linux operating system) because it was in 1983, not 1991. We reproduce in full the announcement.



  23. Links 25/9/2021: Wine 6.18 and Chromium Complier Woes

    Links for the day



  24. [Meme] When the EPO Watches Everything ('Dissidents', Media, Etc.) and Isn't Being Watched by Anybody

    The EPO is taking Europe for a wild ride; Everything is a vehicle for the very same agenda, with nobody left to hold it accountable or ask any tough questions… (even the media is in the EPO’s back pocket or back seat)



  25. Virtual Oversight

    “eMeetings” that simulate an impression of oversight are like ‘ViCo’ to simulate access to justice; will that ever change and will oversight be restored at EPOnia, Europe’s second-largest institution?



  26. The Corporate Coup Against the Soul of the Free Software Community Is Not Over

    The erosion of community role in the development of GNU/Linux is a growing problem; part of the problem is that large corporations target technical and philosophical (perceived) leaders in coordinated smear campaigns, led by media they own



  27. IRC Proceedings: Friday, September 24, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, September 24, 2021



  28. Links 24/9/2021: GNU Coreutils 9.0, BattlEye GNU/Linux Support

    Links for the day



  29. [Meme] 'Linux' Foundation is Greenwashing Microsoft Again, Misusing the Linux Brand Like Nobody's Business

    Microsoft has weaponised the Linux brand to dub a toxic company like itself (helping notoriously polluting companies and generating lots of waste, both directly and through planned obsolescence, inefficient software, DRM, etc.) as "green"



  30. Richard Stallman to Speak (in Person) in Poland, Dedicate the Talk to Medical Professionals

    Days after his talk in Ukraine Richard Stallman plans to do the same in Poland (just announced)


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts