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German Court Passes Verdict Against Mass Surveillance Led by the Country’s Intelligence

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German Court

In a landmark verdict, on Tuesday Germany’s highest court slammed the mass surveillance carried out by the country’s intelligence agency, BND, as it violated the constitution of the country. The spy agency was accused of intercepting telephonic and online communications of foreign nationals abroad.

It was the first time the German court, passed a ruling against the working of BND, stating,

“The German state authority is bound by the fundamental rights of the Basic Law, not only within the German territory.” It added that the German government needed to revisit the BND laws to ensure further safeguards, especially in digital space.

After the ruling, the court issued a press release which said, “The protection of fundamental rights against German state authority is not limited to German territory.” 

The matter was taken to court by six international journalists, including renowned investigative reporters Khadija Ismajilova and Blaz Zgaga, and supported by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the civil rights NGO Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte, and four German media organisations. As per the constitutional complaint filed against the spy operations carried out under current BND law, the German intelligence agency violated the the Basic Law of the constitution, given under Article 1, which assured the freedom of press and right to privacy to both German and foreign nationals.  

What increased BND power in terms of surveillance, was 2017 amendment which allowed the agency to get access to and evaluate communications from foreigners abroad without needing legal permission to do so.

Celebrating the victory of press freedom, Christian Mihr, the Executive Director of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Germany, said “The Federal Constitutional Court has once again underlined the importance of press freedom. We are delighted that Karlsruhe is putting a stop to the escalating surveillance practices of the Federal Intelligence Service abroad.”

“A secret service that wants to protect democracy cannot trample on important democratic freedoms,” said Frank Überall, head of the German journalists’ union DJV in his statement.

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