Internet Exchange Operator DE-CIX Files Lawsuit with the German Constitutional Court

DE-CIX Logo png file

Frankfurt (Main)/Germany, 11 October 2018. DE-CIX Management GmbH has filed a constitutional complaint with the German Constitutional Court against the practice of strategic signals intelligence as set out in Paragraph 5 of the G10 Act. After the dismissal of their lawsuit before the German Federal Administrative Court on 30 May 2018, DE-CIX is now seeking clarification of fundamental legal questions through the Constitutional Court, to ensure legal certainty for citizens and operators. The suit concerns the accessing of purely domestic German communications by the German international intelligence service, the BND, at the largest Internet Exchange in the world based on data throughput, DE-CIX in Frankfurt. This practice was not examined by the Federal Administrative Court in the course of the proceedings. After the presentation of the justification for the verdict and a thorough examination thereof, DE-CIX has now also filed a post-judgement objection against the decision of the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. 

“For us, the decision by the Federal Administrative Court to dismiss the case without consideration of the objections raised is legally not acceptable. For this reason, we have filed an appeal and a constitutional complaint in Karlsruhe,” says Klaus Landefeld – Member of the Supervisory Board of the DE-CIX Group AG. “The violations of the principle of the secrecy of correspondence and telecommunications which were comprehensively demonstrated and argued in our lawsuit were not even dealt with by the Federal Administrative Court in the process. This is, for us, inexplicable. We therefore, after this verdict, see ourselves as remaining obligated to our customers to take action to ensure that any strategic signals intelligence relating to their telecommunications occurs exclusively on a legal basis, as intended by the lawmakers. Currently, we do not see this as guaranteed. The form and extent of the (non-)handling of the fundamental legal questions at the heart of our lawsuit by the Federal Constitutional Court unfortunately has not contributed to a clarification of these questions at all.” 

DE-CIX operates 14 Internet Exchanges worldwide in in key markets like Europe, North America India, and the Middle East. DE-CIX in Frankfurt is the leading Internet Exchange in the world, with record data traffic of more than 6.4 Terabits per Second (Tbps).

Further background information on the lawsuit 

  • DE-CIX Management GmbH is a recipient of official orders from the BND (as the issuing authority for the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community and representing the Federal Republic of Germany), with these orders based on the G10 Act and serving the purpose of so-called “strategic signals intelligence”.
  • These orders entitle the BND to access data at the Internet Exchange DE-CIX in Frankfurt. 
  • In mid-September 2016, DE-CIX Management GmbH filed a lawsuit against the Federal Republic of Germany, represented by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, with the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. 
  • The objective of the lawsuit for DE-CIX Management GmbH was to subject the practice of strategic signals intelligence as set out in Paragraph 5 of the G10 Act at DE-CIX Management GmbH to a judicial examination.
  • The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig dismissed the lawsuit after the oral proceedings on 30 May, and large sections of the content were not handled.
  • The reasons for the verdict are available in German on the Federal Administrative Court website.
  • The constitutional complaint at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe is pending under number 1 BvR 1865/18.