We need to sue the German Secret Service! ..if we want to protect the constitution.
Help us: We fight for associations to be able to assert their right to informational self-determination and to be legally protected.
We thought art was somehow protected in Germany. Now we realize that we are being treated as a terrorist organization and that data is being collected about us in an uncontrolled manner. So that this does not become normal, we are suing together with the Society for Freedom Rights (“Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte”, GFF).
What actually happened?
We produce interventionist media art. For example, we threw a cake in Beatrix von Storch’s face, we let an oil fountain go off on the stage of a Shell conference and we hacked German passports. Yes, we also founded a drop-out club for secret services and flew over the NSA with a drone. What you do as a politically interested artist. And then we realized that if you take democracy seriously, the German Secret Services is quickly keep on nitpicking.
The German Newspaper Süddeutsche even headlined that we are on a German terror list. A parliamentary inquiry revealed: After a raid of our offices, the Berlin State Criminal Police passed on the results of the investigation to the counter-extremism and counter-terrorism service. About us, a small Berlin performance art association.
In order to check whether the Secret Service had PENG! already on the radar, we submitted a request for information – without success. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution rejected the request on the grounds that only natural persons were entitled to information. An association is a legal entity.
Secret services build loopholes to monitor organizations.
Offices for the protection of the constitution are legally permitted to monitor civil society organizations in a targeted manner and to evaluate their data. However, according to the argumentation of the Secret Service, associations should not have a right to information. As a result, they lack the necessary legal protection.
With our objection, we argue that the right to informational self-determination can and must also be applied to legal entities. This is the only way that the work of the secret service meets the minimum requirements for transparency and civil society organizations are adequately protected by law.
A lack of right to information offers secret services a dangerous loophole. When secret services are able to observe organizations unchecked, civil society’s room for maneuver is restricted: people are not only deterred from joining forces to exercise their fundamental rights. The financial survival of many clubs also depends directly on the judgment of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. This is because they are often asked for an assessment before grants are awarded.
With our joint objection, we are fighting to ensure that associations can assert their right to informational self-determination and that civil society is legally protected. If the Secret Service continues to refuse to release the data about our artist collective, we as PENG! will file a lawsuit together with the GFF.
09.03.2022: Grounds for objection: data protection input from Peng! (pdf / 114.1 KB)
07/27/2021: Small request from Niklas Schrader (pdf / 19.0 KB)
14. June 2022: GFF sues with artist collective Peng! against the protection of the constitution (press release of the GFF)