digital trade register

Is there data protection in the commercial register? - DSGVO Update 2023

Maximilian Schneider

In the age of digitization, the commercial register in Germany went online last year. All documents signed or scanned by supervisory boards, managing directors or other bodies at the notary's office are now easily accessible. An innovation that was welcomed by many.

Transparency, accessibility and modernization - the benefits seemed overwhelming at first glance. But now, a year later, the wind seems to be changing.

The date of birth, place of residence and signature of managing directors and supervisory board members is just a click away!

What was originally celebrated as progress is now being strongly criticized by entrepreneurs and data protectionists. They see the disclosure of the commercial register as a massive violation of data protection. Is that really the case? Are entrepreneurs second-class citizens when it comes to data protection. goes?

Let's look at the facts: Since the introduction of the digital trade register, the published Documents by companies free of charge and accessible without prior registration to anyone with Internet access. In addition to the Company data also includes the private addresses of the owners, board members and managing directors, as well as their dates of birth, copies of ID cards and signatures viewable.

This opens up a wide spectrum of opportunities for abuse. From identity theft to targeted advertising to industrial espionage - the list is long and frightening. It's as if we entrepreneurs are giving our enemies the keys to our house.

Another criticism is directed at the Ministry of Justice in North Rhine-Westphalia, which is responsible for the commercial register. Instead of informing those affected and giving them a transitional period to check their data, the portal was switched to free access overnight. The question of responsibility remains unclear, while the Federal Ministry of Justice and the ministries of justice in the federal states pass the buck to each other.

One thing is clear: The General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO)which has been in force throughout the EU for more than five years, seems to have reached its limits here. It was introduced to ensure the protection of personal data within the EU. But where is the protection of entrepreneurs when sensitive information such as private addresses and dates of birth are freely accessible on the Internet?

The current situation surrounding the digital trade register is a wake-up call that it is time to reassess and revise the GDPR. Data protection compliance should not only apply to individual citizens, but also to entrepreneurs.

The solution could be found in a careful checking and adjustment of the released data lie. It is undisputed that the transparency and accessibility of the commercial register are beneficial, but there must be a limit that ensures the privacy of individuals and companies.

The current situation cannot and must not be tolerated any longer. It is time for those responsible to act and take the necessary measures to ensure data privacy for entrepreneurs. Progress must not come at the expense of privacy. It is time that data protection in Germany is not just an empty promise, but becomes a reality.

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