Peter Schaar, Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information
Before the Act entered into force, the commissioner’s title was "Federal Commissioner for Data Protection". According to the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG), the commissioner is the independent authority for overseeing data protection by federal public agencies and by companies providing telecommunications and postal services. The commissioner reports on his/her activities every two years. To fill the office of Federal Commissioner, the Federal Government proposes a candidate who must then be elected by the Bundestag. During his/her term of office, the commissioner is paid a salary equivalent to that of a federal civil servant at pay grade B 9. The commissioner stands in an official relationship with public law functions but does not have civil servant status. The term of office is five years, with the possibility of reelection to a second term.
The commissioner has the right to refuse to give evidence concerning persons or matters affecting him/her in his/her capacity as Federal Commissioner (Section 23 (4) BDSG); the commissioner may also decide whether his/her staff may refuse to give evidence.
The office of the commissioner is at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and has a special administrative status. The commissioner’s office is funded through a separate budget; by law, the commissioner is guaranteed the necessary staff and material resources. All hiring of staff is subject to the commissioner’s approval.
The commissioner performs his/her duties independently and is subject only to the law, not to any expert supervision (Section 22 (4) BDSG).The commissioner is subject to the legal supervision of the Federal Government and administrative supervision of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
Peter Schaar has held the office of Federal Government Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information since 17 December 2003; Roland Bachmeier is deputy commissioner and senior officer.