Germany plans tighter data protection

German ministers agreed to update data protection laws for the digital age in the wake of scandals showing how easily personal details can be bought on the internet, an AFP report said.

The new dangers were brought home in mid-August when a former call centre worker handed authorities a CD containing the bank details of 17,000 people that he said his employer had procured from a lottery firm, the AFP report said.

The whistle-blower, Detlef Tiegel, boasted that he had the details of 1.5 million others, and after a series of similar revelations it became clear that what the 36-year-old had revealed was only the tip of the iceberg.

To test how easy it was to procure personal details, German officials started scouring the Internet. In only a few days they managed to buy six million items of personal data for just €850 (US$1,230).

The resulting uproar prompted Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to call a crisis meeting with other ministers in Berlin on how to update data-protection regulations and reassure consumers that their details were safe, the AFP report further said.

Schaeuble told a news conference after the talks that the government wanted to make it illegal for data to be passed between firms without the 'express consent' of the person concerned.

Schaeuble also said that the government would consider obliging firms whose sales staff approach potential customers using contact details they have obtained from a third party to say where the information came from.

Schaar said however that changing the legislation was tricky as much of what currently happens was perfectly legal.