Translating statutes: Federal Data Protection Act /Bundesdatenschutzgesetz

Anyone who is learning about how to translate German statutes into English might be interested to compare the two online translations of the Bundesdatenschutzgesetz.

1. Goethe Institut (formerly Inter Nationes translations)

2. BFDI (Der Bundesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz und die Informationsfreiheit)

Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (original German)

In no. 1, I was struck by:

a) The use of Article instead of section for §

b) The difficulty of navigating to sections 5, 43 and 44

c) Section 43 (2) ‘fails to appoint a commissioner for data protection’ – I would only use this for the Federal Commissioner – here, prefer ‘data protection officer’ (No. 2 has ‘data protection official’)

d) Translation of rechtzeitig as on time instead of in (good) time (No. 2 has ‘within the prescribed time limit’)

e) Mystifying translation of section 43 (7): contrary to Article 29 para. 3 sentence 2 does not ensure the acceptance of recordings,
(No. 2: in violation of Section 29 (3) second sentence fails to ensure the inclusion of identifiers)

Incidentally, if one looks at no. 1’s translation of section 29, the terms used do not match.

In no. 2, I liked

a) data subject for Betroffene(r)
(No. 1 had affected party – I was going to use person affected, although I see I had already got data subject in my database)

b) Bußgeldvorschriften and Strafvorschriften, as headings, translated as Administrative offences and Criminal offences
(No. 1 had Administrative Fine Provisions and Penalty Provisions)

c) Translation of section 43 (5):
entgegen § 29 Abs. 2 Satz 3 oder 4 die dort bezeichneten Gründe oder die Art und Weise ihrer glaubhaften Darlegung nicht aufzeichnet
in violation of section 29 (2) third or fourth sentence fails to record the evidence described there or the means of presenting it in a credible way
(No. 1: contrary to Article 29 para. 2 sentence 3 or 4 does not record the reasons named there or does not record the way in which they are credibly presented)

There is more. I would love to know who did the BFDI translation.

5 thoughts on “Translating statutes: Federal Data Protection Act /Bundesdatenschutzgesetz

  1. Thanks for the positive feedback — I did the translation for the BFDI as part of my work as a full-time translator in the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s translation service. I worked with the German and English versions of Council Directive 95/46/EC and with the 2006 English translation of the law done by one of our freelancers. I used the terminology in the directive (data subject, data protection official) wherever possible, although the German version of the directive sometimes used different terms than the Bundesdatenschutzgesetz.

    • Good heavens – this blogging is more useful than I thought! Thanks for the reply, Gretchen.
      Actually I was translating a contract with a lot of quotes from the statute, and at first I used the Goethe Inst. version for comparison, and then I found I had to think a lot about ‘die Art und Weise ihrer glaubhaften Darlegung’, and the translation was particularly unsuccessful.

      The possibilities of comparing EU directives and their implementation and the way the terminology cannot be relied on to be consistent is rather a bane of legal translation nowadays. I definitely don’t find enough time to examine everything minutely.

      • Hello Margaret – sitting here at this unearthly time doin basically the same thing you must have done once – translating quotes from a statute for a contract or rather a non-disclosure agreement referring to it and quoting

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