Germany’s far-right party has changed its online press registration form for its upcoming party congress in Hanover. It removed a controversial section on “special data” that asked journalists to state their religious beliefs and political views.
To downplay the controversy over the registration form, Alternative for Germany (AfD) party spokesman Christian Lüth posted on Twitter on October 28: “Test version deleted. Starting immediately, journalists can use the official registration form on our website.”
As reported by ’s Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, journalists registering online to cover the AfD’s national congress in December were previously asked to check a “declaration of consent” box where they agree to the “collection, storage and use” of personal information.
In addition to the basic requirements like name and press pass number, journalists were also required to agree to the collection of “special data”. This is a term used by Germany’s data protection law for information on racial and ethnic backgrounds, political views, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, health or sexual orientation.
According to DW, officials believe the AfD’s “declaration of consent” text resulted from a mix-up rather than an intentional attempt to collect information on journalists. The same passage is frequently used in applications for political party membership, where it is acceptable to ask the political opinions of the applicant.
Mistake or not, the German Journalists Association did not take the AfD’s press accreditation requirement lightly.
“This is an unacceptable intrusion into the private affairs of journalists,” said Hendrik Zörner, spokesman for the German Journalists Association.