The highest court in Germany, The Federal Constitutional Court, recently held hearings on a lawsuit filed by Reporters Without Borders regarding laws that regulate Germany’s spy agency. The legislation in question is named the Bundesnachrichtendienest (BND) Act and it gives the BND agency (the equivalent of the NSA in the United States) broad surveillance authority. 

Reporters Without Borders and other plaintiffs argued that this 2017 regulation that governs the mass surveillance program exposes journalists to surveillance “without due cause.” A 2017 report published in the German weekly Der Spiegel stated that the German Spy Agency had at least 50 phone numbers and email addresses of journalists among its surveillance targets. 

Communications between journalists and other parties are vital to the freedom of the press. If communications of journalists are scrutinized in surveillance dragnets, the ability to detect and expose corruption becomes impossible. The danger with this system is that the privacy of whistleblowers is in jeopardy, which inadvertently dissuades people with valuable information to come forward. The conclusion from the German High Court is expected in 2020. 

While it is erroneous for our society’s freedom of the press to still be threatened, it is important to remember that modern technology allows anyone to take control of their online privacy. Journalists wanting to protect their online communication should use a VPN. Not only will PrivadoVPN encrypt internet traffic, but the service also prevents Internet Service Providers and third-parties from monitoring your traffic and activities. With PrivadoVPN, your data belongs to you and it cannot be intercepted. Journalists using a no-log VPN provider based in Switzerland can take comfort in knowing their identity is untraceable by an IP address.