Applicant name Klass and others
Applicant type Natural person
Country Germany
Decision no. 5029/71
Date 18/12/1974
Institution Commission
Type Decision
Outcome Art. 8 Admissible
Type of privacy Informational privacy
Keywords Surveillance; in abstracto
Facts of the case Suveillance law by the German government, resulting in the famous Klass Court judgement later. Complainants are legal professionals.
Analysis The general problem with secret surveillance laws is that intelligence agencies do not let people know whether they have been the target of surveillance measures. Normally, the Commission and the Court only accept applicantions when the applicants can demonstrate that they have been harmed individually and substantially. It denies so called in abstracto claims and hypothetical claims.
With respect to matters concerning surveillance laws, however, the Commission and the Court have always adopted a different approach (culmunating in the Zhakarov case late 2015 in which the Court outright admitted to accepting in abstracto claims), albeit for various reasons. In this case, the Commission relies on so called hypothetical harm. The victims may have been harmed, but are unsure whether this is so and are unable to find out.
‘According to Art . 25 (1) only the victim of an alleged violation may bring an application. The applicants, however, state that they may be or may have been subject to secret surveillance, for example, in course of legal representation of clients who were themselves subject to surveillance, and that persons having been the subject of secret surveillance are not always subsequently informed of the measures taken against them . In view of this particularity of the case the applicants have to be considered as victims for purposes of Art. 25 .’
Documents Decision