Worldwide mass surveillance by Germany’s intelligence service declared unconstitutional in landmark ruling on press freedom in the digital age

On 19th May 2020, Reporters Without Borders reports

Editor’s Note: Whilst not directly related to Julian’s plight, Julian’s plight is all about Press Freedom . This article has been included to show that Press Freedom can be won back through directed and diligent hard work by the many

In a much-anticipated verdict issued this morning, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has put an end to the groundless mass surveillance of global internet traffic by Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). The ruling, the most far-reaching in this field in the past 20 years, sends an important signal for the protection of press freedom in the digital age.

The court ruled that the BND law disregards both the freedom of the press guaranteed in article 5 and the freedom of telecommunications guaranteed in Article 10 of the Basic Law as it does not recognise that foreign surveillance must be conducted in conformity with the Basic Law. When revising the BND law, the legislature will have to take into account that foreign surveillance without cause is only possible in very few cases. Vulnerable groups of persons such as journalists must be granted special protection. Tighter criteria must also apply to the targeted surveillance of individuals. Furthermore, international surveillance must be controlled much more effectively by independent bodies with their own budgetary sovereignty. The ruling thus sets new standards in international human rights protection and for freedom of the press.

The Federal Constitutional Court has once again underlined the importance of press freedom,  said Christian Mihr, Executive Director of RSF Germany. We are delighted that Karlsruhe is putting a stop to the escalating surveillance practices of the Federal Intelligence Service abroad”, Mihr added.

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