Deutsche Post Direkt GmbH allegedly sold data concerning political tendencies

The Sunday edition of the national newspaper Bild reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) party and the centre-right Free Democrats (FDP) party purchased "more than a billion" pieces of personal data about potential voters from a subsidiary of Deutsche Post, which offered target-mailing concepts to its clients. The Deutsche Post subsidiary, Deutsche Post Direkt, rejected these claims.

Instead, Deutsche Post is reported as insisting that it never sells details of addresses or individual households, and that the data it offers to clients — which it calls microcells — is based on "a standard of 6.6 households" to work out "statistical probabilities." The company stressed that it adheres to Germany's data protection laws. Bild reported that Deutsche Post had been selling voter data to political parties since 2005 and that the CDU and the FDP had spent "five-figure sums" to acquire such data in the run-up to the German national elections last September. The CDU confirmed that it bought data from Deutsche Post to help with door-to-door campaigning. The data was completely anonymized, the party claimed in a statement, and insisted that "all of the CDU's digital activities are subject to the relevant data protection regulations." The FDP claimed that it only used anonymized data in its election campaign. Marco Buschmann, an FDP politician, said on Facebook that the data the party bought from Deutsche Post "merely indicates a probability where we might find a voter leaning towards the FDP."

Deutsche Post Direkt GmbH is currently under investigation by the German Data Protection Authority (DPA) of North Rhine-Westphalia. Germany does not have one central DPA but a number of different Authorities for each of the 16 German states (Länder) that are responsible for enforcing data protection laws and regulations.