December 21, 2016 / 1:21 PM / 3 years ago

Germany to allow increased security video surveillance

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will allow more video surveillance in public places, under a draft law passed by the cabinet on Wednesday, reflecting growing security fears in a country that has for decades been wary of police intrusion.

The bill was agreed in principle by the parties in Angela Merkel’s coalition last month, well before Monday’s deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin that was claimed by Islamic State.

Germany suffered two smaller attacks by Islamists over the summer, one on a train, the other at a music festival. Hundreds of sexual assaults last New Year’s Eve also increased concerns about security on German streets.

State surveillance is a sensitive issue in Germany because of extensive snooping by the Stasi secret police in Communist East Germany and by the Gestapo in the Nazi era.

The new legislation would loosen data-protection restrictions for video surveillance on the streets and in places such as shopping malls, sports venues and car parks.

The cabinet also agreed on allowing federal police officers to wear bodycams, a step meant to increase security for officers after a rise in violence against them in recent months.

Government officials have said the country, which accepted nearly 900,000 migrants last year, many refugees from war zones in the Middle East, lies in the “crosshairs of terrorism”.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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