Postal and letter secrecy Which letters am I allowed to open?
The principle of letter secrecy guarantees that only you as the recipient are entitled to read what is in your letter. What is inside an envelope concerns nobody but the person to whom the letter is addressed. Anyone who without your knowledge and consent removes, opens and reads your mail – perhaps even from your letter box – is committing a criminal offence, whether it’s an invitation from your girlfriend to an upcoming jazz concert or your brother’s birthday greetings. This also applies to parents, who are expected to respect the secrecy of their children’s letters. There is, however, an exception to this rule: if parents suspect that their child has problems or is in trouble, they may open the letters. After all, they do have a parental duty of care.