The German Interior Ministry has proposed a new law allowing authorities to easily access personal mobile phone data from asylum seekers whose identities are hard to verify.
Interior Ministry Officials told German broadcasters WDR and NDR and newspaper the Suddeutsche Zeitung on Sunday (19 February) that the plans would allow deportation orders for failed asylum seekers to be better enforced. They claim that asylum seekers sometimes use a false identity to avoid deportation or claim benefits.
Under current rules, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is instructed only to search through refugees' mobile phone data with the person's consent. If there is suspicion a refugee is planning a crime, police can search a refugee's telephone after being granted a judicial warrant.
The measure comes in a bid by German authorities to speed up the deportation of failed asylum seekers.
Following the Berlin terror attack in December, it emerged that culprit Anis Amri had his asylum application rejected, but he had not been deported due to issues with Tunisian authorities processing his paperwork.
According to reports, the legislation could allow authorities access to phone data for 50 to 60% of the refugees who arrived in the country in 2016.
BAMF is currently processing a 430,000 backlog of asylum applications, and has called for all immigrants to be fingerprinted to make the use of false identities more difficult.
The officials did not disclose any further information about the content of the bill.