Bonn's new civil-rights legislation proceeds
It doesn't have the glamour of, say, NATO missiles, or the erosion of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt's Social Democratic Party. But out of Bonn's political spotlight, civil-rights legislation proceeds.
The two current issues before the Bundestag (lower house) involve data protection and the ban on radicals in government service.
The new data protection draft law prepared by the Social Democratic-Free Democratic coalition aims at strengthening the basic 1978 law on data protection. In particular, it would give citizens more access to and claims against records of themselves - and would restrict outsiders' cross-access to personal data in separate computers' memory banks.
Citizens' access to their own records would include not only revelation of basic information, but also its distribution pattern and, in cases of wrong information, identification of sources. The value of access would further be enhanced by a concept of no-fault damage - roughly comparable to no-fault insurance in that no individual bureaucrat or company employee (or computer error) would have to be proven at fault in order for an aggrieved party to claim compensation for damage.
Meeting with more conservative criticism than the data protection draft is the new legislation implementing the 10-year-old administrative ban on radicals in government service.
Basically, what liberal Interior Minister Gerhart Baum wants to do is to have less strict loyalty checks for, say, federally employed locomotive drivers and gardeners' assistants than for security officials. It is rejection of Communist Party members as railroad and park employees that in the past has drawn the strongest accusations of witchhunts from Social Democrats and various non-German Europeans.
It is precisely Baum's proposed differentiation that is not challenged as ''unconstitutional'' by the conservatives, however, under a Federal Constitutional (supreme) Court ruling of 1975.