The German Interior Ministry would allow the German domestic and foreign intelligence services are to hack into computers and smartphones under a draft law.
According to the draft law, the country’s intelligence agencies are allowed to, under specific circumstances, to intercept encrypted traffic to and from publishing companies, radio and television broadcasters, and freelance journalists. Of course, privacy advocated, and associations for the defense of human rights fear the Government could carry out a massive surveillance campaign.
“The intelligence services would also be empowered to intercept the encrypted communications of publishing companies, radio and television broadcasters and freelance journalists in certain cases, or to covertly search the digital data on their devices, meaning that they could also identify journalistic sources in the process.” reads a post published by the association Reporters Without Borders (RSF Germany)
The law could also authorities to identify journalistic sources threatening the constitutionally guaranteed right to source protection.
The RSF Germany also issued a statement to explain how the law would hinder the journalistic activities in the country.
“If source protection is abolished, media professionals and their sources would lose the foundation for trusting cooperation. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer must put a stop to his ministry’s plans immediately,” said Christian Mihr, Executive Director of RSF Germany.
The authorities would be allowed to use spyware to compromise target device and conduct so-called “online searches” (“Online-Durchsuchung”) to access the target’s data.
The power assigned to the German intelligence agencies is very dangerous, for example, they would be able to monitor journalistic activities by wiretapping encrypted communications between journalists and their sources.
The domestic intelligence service would also be allowed to spy on German media, and a most scaring scenario sees Germany’s foreign intelligence agency BND authorized to hack into foreign media to conduct its investigation.
“Although the draft law foresees certain protective rights for journalists, in the case of foreign media in particular the obstacles the state authorities would face are comparatively trivial.” continues the post. “The BND would be empowered to hack foreign media to guarantee “Germany’s capacity to act”. So for example it would be allowed to hack into the servers of The Washington Post if this was deemed to serve Germany’s foreign policy interests.”
German media outlets, broadcasters, and journalists are protesting against the Interior Ministry, and also the Social Democratic Party, announced its opposition to the plans.
Interior Minister Seehofer attempted to calm the journalists by explaining that the Government will continue to offer them ‘special’ protection.
According to Germany RSP, Germany ranks 13th out of 180 states on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index
(SecurityAffairs – surveillance, German Intelligence)