Court delays W. German census

Privacy has won out over social engineering in West Germany, at least provisionally, reports Monitor correspondent Elizabeth Pond. The Federal Constitutional Court issued a temporary injunction barring the census planned for this month, pending court consideration of basic issues of constitutionality. The final court decision is expected by fall at the earliest.

In its opinion, the court focused on a provision allowing census information to be passed on to other government and police agencies. The private citizens who filed the constitutional complaint argued that such usage would violate the individual's privacy, as well as his right to free development of personality and free expression. As it was conceived, the census information would not have been anonymous (allowing only for aggregate planning of such services as transportation and social welfare). Instead, it would have profiled each person by name.

The census was already postponed once, for two years, because of financial disputes between the federal and state governments. In the past month it has become a major political issue, with the new parliamentary party of the Greens calling on West Germans to boycott it.

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