Confidentiality

Confidentiality in Europe

Breach of Official Secrets and Special Duties of Confidentiality in Germany

Provisions relating to breach of official secrets and special duties of confidentiality in the German Criminal Code [1]: This criminal issue is covered by Chapter Thirty, under the heading “Offences Committed in Public Office,” located in Section 353b Breach of official secrets and special duties of confidentiality, which reads: (1) Whosoever unlawfully discloses a secret which has been confided or become known to him in his capacity as 1. a public official; 2. a person entrusted with special public service functions; or 3. a person who exercises duties or powers under the laws on staff representation and thereby causes a danger to important public interests, shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine. If by the offence the offender has negligently caused a danger to important public interests he shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine. (a) (b) (a) (b) (2) Whosoever other than in cases under subsection (1) above unlawfully allows an object or information to come to the attention of another or makes it pub licly known which he is obliged to keep secret on the basis of a resolution of a legislative body of the Federation or a state or one of their committees; or 1. which he has been formally put under an obligation to keep secret by another official agency under notice of criminal liability for a violation of the duty of secrecy, 2. and thereby causes a danger to important public interests shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine. (3) The attempt shall be punishable. (4) The offence may only be prosecuted upon authorisation. The authorisation shall be granted by the president of the legislative body in cases under subsection (1) above if the secret became known to the offender during his service in or for a legislative body of the Federation or a state; in cases under subsection (2) No 1 above; 1. by the highest Federal public authority: in cases under subsection (1) above if the secret became known to the offender during his service in or for a public authority or in another official agency of the Federation or for such an agency; in cases under subsection (2) No 2 above if the offender was under put under obligation by an official agency of the Federation; 2. by the highest state public authority in all other cases under 3. subsections (1) and (2) No 2 above.

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Notes

  1. The content of the translated German penal code in relation to breach of official secrets and special duties of confidentiality is current as of 2010

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