Encouraged by successfully abolishing the EU directive for general data retention, we focused on the second, still unfulfilled demand of our citizens' initiative zeichnemit.at: A comprehensive analysis and evaluation of all anti-terror laws. 106,067 Austrians joined our cause. Only the sum of all violations of our privacy reveals the true extent of the surveillance. The idea and the necessity of such a “comprehensive sum of surveillance” was first voiced 2010 by the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe during court proceedings regarding data retention.
Finding a sound justification for new laws based on an evaluation of current rules and regulations is one of the core tasks of politics but this was completely neglected in this case. Fact based security policies are the best way to contain the craze of surveillance. HEAT (the manual for the evaluation of anti-terror laws) is a large step towards this goal.

Reduction of the surveillance state

The first version of HEAT was published on 9/11 2016. This date was chosen on purpose because, in the 15 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, governments around the world have reacted by introducing more and more surveillance laws. These are barely useful to combat terror and organised crime, yet they often pose an immense violation of our fundamental rights. Austria is no exception: The general data retention, the State Protection Act (PStSG) and the state trojan (“Bundestrojaner”) are only a few examples that show the exaggerated focus on security. These laws result in extensive permissions for surveillance, often with insufficient legal protection for the people concerned. It is evident that the authorities receive more and more opportunities to violate the privacy of citizens - even those with completely clean records. HEAT presents the basis for dismantling the surveillance state. The catalogue of criteria provides politicians as well as the civil society with means and instruments to test the security laws with regard to their compatibility with the constitutional basic rights.
The manual contains a comprehensive list of all Austrian laws that are connected to surveillance, a review of the relevant court rulings, a survey of the technologies actually used by the authorities, as well as a catalogue of criteria for the scientific evaluation of surveillance laws. The goal is to examine laws that violate basic rights already during their development. They should be tested for their compatibility with the constitution early in this development process, with special focus on their effects on the society as a whole.

HEAT 2.0 [Update, November 2018]:

Our lawyer Angelika Adensamer and our fundraiser Tanja Mally not only received funding by netidee but also earned the Martin Prager award for integration.

(c) Anna Rauchenberger

Here you can learn what we have planned for HEAT 2.0 (German):

Marlene Kreil, who also worked on HEAT 2.0, has composed also a status update in order to explain why we need a new version of HEAT and what we are planning for the new comprehensive sum of surveillance.

[Update January 2019]

Marlene Kreil provides another status update about the development of HEAT 2.0. In it, she explains in layman's terms what basic rights are, why we need them, and what all this has to do with surveillance.

What is the purpose of HEAT?

  • As basis and motivation for the evaluation of all anti terror laws in Austria (and beyond)
  • As support for the civil society and politics to achieve a fact based and proportionate security policy.
  • In order to demand justification from the legislative for any laws that violate basic rights.
  • As contribution for a well-founded and effective legislative process 

State Protection Act: HEAT put to use

HEAT has already been used successfully during the development of the PStSG. It proved to be especially valuable when composing the complaint at the Austrian Constitutional Court (of the Green Party and the Liberal Party)

Ongoing development

HEAT is a living document. In the upcoming months, the content for selected cases and target groups will be reprocessed and improved. The catalogue of criteria will be refined as well. But first and foremost we want to establish a dialogue with the different stakeholders in politics, civil society, and administration. The manual is not intended as a purely theoretical work: It needs to be applied.

Interdisciplinary work

HEAT was created under the scientific lead of Christof Tschohl. The team consisted of lawyers, engineers, and social scientists. A lot of support was provided by many volunteers who carried out research tasks, lectorate, and graphic design of the content. The project could not have been realised without the “netidee” of the non-profit Internet Foundation Austria (IPA) and the many private donations to AKVorrat.