In mid-may of this year, the Federal constitutional court has ruled that the Federal government has strict rules, you have the Internet surveillance by the Federal intelligence service (BND). By the end of 2021, a corresponding law has come into force. One of the points that the judges complained about: The communication of foreign journalists must be better protected before, the BND recorded and to be analyzed.
In your judgment, the constitutional judges of the databases and filter the procedure to develop and update the communications of journalists is automatically sorted out from the collected data streams. This should be done before the data of people analyzed or even to foreign news services to be delivered. With a first draft law is expected to take place in the parliamentary summer break.
The non-governmental organization “reporters without borders” (RWB) is now demanding that the new law also protects those in front of a Surveillance by the BND, the journalistic work, but not under a narrow Definition of journalism in the target countries. So it is in a so far unpublished paper, which is the MIRROR. Reporters without borders was one of the Complainants of the action before the Federal constitutional court.
In authoritarian regimes, citizen journalists can be crucial
One problem is the Monitoring of foreign journalists could be because of the BND is allowed to share his collected data with other intelligence services, when appropriate, by the Federal Chancellery-sanctioned agreement was made. How often and with which countries this actually happens is not known.
Especially in authoritarian States, there are often bloggers, citizen journalists, and people without institutional commitment, the guarantee of a minimum level of independent documentation, and reporting of reporters without borders. The reason for this is that in dictatorships and authoritarian countries, the state will regulate who can call themselves officially as a Journalist. A uniform global Definition of the professional title of Journalist, there is not.
Persons who inform the Public, operate in many countries around the world in a grey area. At the same time their information can often be difficult to independently verify. In war-torn Syria, for example, there are often no traditional journalists who offer insights into the processes on-site. The activists and citizen journalists of “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently” were sometimes the Only images of life under the rule of the terrorist militia “Islamic state” publicly made. The murdered, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, published their investigative reports on a Blog and in Vietnam will be published, due to the state control of the official media, critical messages are often only of bloggers on YouTube and Facebook.
“The lack of institutional protection should not discriminate against these people, but, on the contrary, their special need for protection against surveillance measures by intelligence services under stress,” writes ROG in the paper.
Who qualifies as a Journalist, is not one
ROG recognizes, however, that there is a need for a clear demarcation of who can not apply as a Journalist, so the special protection rights of this group of persons would be meaningless. In practice, there are likely cases in some regions of the world, and to lead to tricky considerations, if someone can be as a Journalist, and to prevent someone withdraws may only be for the protection of this designation.
As a solution, ROG proposes to be guided by the Standards of the “Journalism Trust Initiative”. This Initiative of several representatives of the media organizations in cooperation with the ROG has developed criteria by which media professionals as an independent, trusted journalists can be classified. This includes, among other things, the transparency, the Work according to journalistic principles, accuracy of reporting and responsibility in the handling of sources.
Reporters without borders calls that the BND is working in the future with a broad Definition of journalism in practice. To write “just in the new law, journalists are protected, would not be enough,” says Christian Mihr of reporters without borders. “The processes of journalistic work related to the Definition of who is to protect artists, as the Media, needs to be reflected in the recast BND-law and in the grounds of the Law down,” says Mihr.
In their current paper, reporters without borders, formulate additional recommendations for the amendment of the law. Among other things, ROG calls for a more comprehensive legal and parliamentary control of the BND. Also, professionals should be involved from the journalistic area, which could assess the international situation of the freedom of the press is appropriate, it says.
A spokesman for the German government stressed that it will make in a very transparent process, proposals for the necessary legislative adjustments. Also, the assessments of different organizations such as reporters without borders and other stakeholders should be involved. “The goal will be to continue to find balanced regulations, the protection of the fundamental rights in a comprehensive manner and at the same time, the working capacity of the Federal intelligence service,” said the spokesman.