My home is northern Germany. I was born on 20 December 1982 in Braunschweig in Lower Saxony. I grew up in nearby Wolfenbüttel. After finishing my education at the Gymnasium im Schloss grammar school in 2002, I did my civilian service at a special-needs kindergarten.
I developed an interest in politics and technology whilst still at school. I became active in the student council and school newspaper and was awarded the Lower Saxony Student Press Prize in 2000 and 2002 for the web page that I designed and programmed for the newspaper. Having joined the Greens in 1999 and founded the Young Greens group in my region, I actively and continuously pursued my political interests at various levels within the Party and the corresponding Youth and University associations.
My University years
I moved to Bremen, Brussels and Berlin in turn where I studied Law from 2003 to 2008, specialising in European and international law. During this time, I did several traineeships in newspapers and law firms as well as in the German Bundestag and the European Parliament. In addition, I worked for the Walter Hallstein Institute for European Constitutional Law attached to Humboldt University in Berlin. I passed the First State Exam in Law in Berlin and subsequently acquired an LLM in IT Law at the Universities of Hanover and Oslo. During my studies, I received support from the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and spent an Erasmus year at the Université Libre in Brussels.
In the European Parliament
My personal interest in politics and law in the digital age also forms a focal point for my political work. In 2009, standing for the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen I was elected as the youngest German Member of European Parliament. I have since then been one of the 751 Members of the European Parliament representing the citizens, in my case notably those from Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. My place of work alternates between Brussels, Strasbourg and my region in northern Germany. I am married and have a son.
Within the Green Group in the European Parliament, I am responsible for the broad area of home and justice affairs and digital policy. This deals with internal security, data protection and IT security as well as policies concerning the judiciary and police or the fight against right-wing extremism. The future of strong fundamental and human rights in the digital era is a subject close to my heart.
Since 2014, I have been Vice-Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and a substitute member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. I am also the Green Group’s coordinator for the Special Committee on Terrorism. During my first legislative term from 2009 to 2014, I was a member of the Justice and Home Affairs Committee and substitute member of the Committee on Legal Affairs. From December 2012 until October 2013, I was also my political group’s coordinator for the Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering.
As chief negotiator for the European Parliament, I played a significant role in the legislative procedure concerning the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will uniformly govern data protection legislation across the EU as of 25 May 2018. During the negotiations, which I conducted both between the Political Groups and with the Member States and the European Commission, my team and I were shadowed by the film director David Bernet over a course of several years. The resulting the documentary ‘DEMOCRACY’ received several awards and manages to bring to life the complex political processes in the EU in a gripping manner while shedding light on the issue of self-determination in the digital age, an issue of growing importance issue for the future.
In the European Parliament, I am also member of the Delegation for Relations with Israel and substitute member in the Delegation for Relations with Australia and New Zealand. I am Chair of the Group of Members of the European Parliament in the Europa Union and also member of Sankt Pauli Football Club, the NOYB association, the German Association for Data Protection. I am a supporter of the Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte and a founding member of the Institut Solidarische Moderne.
In addition to my activities as a Member of Parliament, I regularly lecture on European legal informatics at Vienna University and write legal articles and books on this subject. Literature and the theatre have been passions of mine since my early youth and I pursue these interests in my free time whenever possible. Given my schedule and frequent travel, I have limited opportunities to spend time with family and friends so I find this all the more important for achieving an inner balance.