Heiko Maas (born 19 September 1966) is a German SPD politician. He has been Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection since 17 December 2013. Before he was the leader of the SPD group in the Saarland regional parliament since 1999.
Early life and education
Maas was born in Saarlouis on 19 September 1966. He studied law at Saarland University.
Maas was first appointed to the Saarland Parliament in 1996, under the mentorship of Oskar Lafontaine who would later leave the Social Democrats to found his own party.
Leading the SPD into the 2009 state election only months before the federal elections that year, Maas announced he would form a coalition with Lafontaine’s Left Party should the two obtain a majority, suggesting that the party could become a potential ally for the SPD at federal level in the 2013 election. At the time, any such coalition in Saarland was widely seen as undermining the pledge made by the Social Democrat’s candidate for the federal elections, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, not to rule with the Left Party. Eventually, the SPD only gained 24.5 percent, making it the party’s worst election result in the state.
Maas was a SPD delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 2010 and 2012.
After the 2012 state election, the SPD went into coalition with the CDU, which before that election had been governing the state in coalition with the Green Party and the Liberals. While the Social Democrats and Left had won enough seats to form a coalition, Maas ruled out such an alliance in favor of a coalition with the CDU led by incumbent Minister-President Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. As deputy minister-president, he took over responsibility for the economy, transport, and employment.
Following the 2013 federal elections, Maas was part of the SPD team in the negotiations with the CDU/CSU on a coalition agreement; he was a member of the energy policy working group led by Peter Altmaier and Hannelore Kraft. On 17 December 2013, he was sworn in as the minister of justice and consumer protection in the third cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel, succeeding Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.
He earned the nickname 'Prohibition Minister' by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung for his many non-approved law proposals.
Following the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture in December 2014, Maas told German newspaper Bild: "The CIA's practice of torture is gruesome […] Everybody involved must be legally prosecuted."
In early 2015, Maas successfully introduced a new law meant to mitigate radical Islamist attacks, by making it a criminal offence to travel abroad to receive military training. Shortly after, he and Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) jointly submitted a draft law permitting the temporary retention of internet and telephone data – excluding e-mail traffic – to aid criminal investigations.
Crime and prosecutions
In July 2015, Maas announced plans to amend Germany's penal code on sexual assault in accordance with the Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe; the reform is to punish abuse which exploits a victim's fear of a "perceived menace" and tighten sentences in rape cases.
In August 2015, Maas initiated the dismissal and retirement of chief federal prosecutor Harald Range; his ministry had questioned Range's decision to open a much-criticized treason investigation against journalists of netzpolitik.org who had reported about plans of Germany's domestic spy agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution – to expand surveillance of online communication. Range, meanwhile, had accused the government of interfering in the investigation.
In a 2014 interview with the Financial Times, Maas called it "not acceptable" that Google "dominates the search engine world, and is able to rank its search results in a manner apt to promote its own business interests." In 2015, he endorsed criticism expressed by Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VzBz) which held that Facebook’s data protection terms were too vague. Later that year, he publicly accused Facebook of doing too little to thwart racist posts and hate comments on the social media platform.
After the big Netpolitic scandal, where a German language blog leaked top secret documents, Maas introduced a new law in 2015, called 'Data Stolen Goods' (§202d StGB). Ulf Buermeyer, a judge of the district Court in Berlin and former scientific co-worker at the Federal Constitutional Court, described the anti-whistleblower law as a massive attack on democracy and the Freedom of speech . The law was passed by the Bundestag on October 16, 2015.
Law Governing Sexual Offences
After the massive sexual assaults in Cologne at New Year's Eve, 2015, Heiko Maas wanted to aggregate the restrictions for sexual offences. Tonio Walter, writing an op-ed in Die Zeit, said that the law was overly broad: under a proposed ban on groping, he claimed, a wife could be punished for embracing her husband from behind, while rules against sex by coercion could punish a boss whose employee consented to sex under a (possibly mistaken, said Walter) fear of losing the job. Walter likewise said that the penalty of 10 years in prison for a sexual assault and 15 for rape by coercion would be too much, noting that non-sexual assaults received a lesser penalty under the laws.
In 2016, Maas called for a legal ban on sexist advertisement, which 'reduces women or men to sexual objects.' Germany's Association of Communications Agencies said the law suggestion was 'absurd' and 'narrow-minded'. FDP leader Christian Lindner called it the next round of the 'nanny state' and indicated a thinking close to radical Islamic leaders. The GWA, Germany's Association of Communications Agencies, criticized it's a 'matter of taste' if something is sexist or not.
- German Forum for Crime Prevention (DFK), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Trustees
- Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation, President of the Board of Trustees
- RAG-Stiftung, ex-officio Member of the Board of Trustees (since 2015)
- Saarländische Investitionskreditbank AG (SIKB), Chairman of the Supervisory Board
- SaarLB, Chairman of the Board of Directors
- Saarland University Hospital, Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board
- Völklingen Ironworks, Member of the Supervisory Board
- Federal Network Agency, Member of the Advisory Board
- Board of Trustees German Forum for Crime Prevention (DFK).
Maas enjoys football and is a triathlete. He is married and has two children. Heiko Maas received death threats in form of a bullet in his pillar box.