“The German Federation of Journalists recommends journalists to avoid until further notice the use of search engines and e-mail services from Google and Yahoo for their research and digital communication,” the union said in a statement.
It cited “scandalous” reports of interception of both companies’ web traffic by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s GCHQ.
“The searches made by journalists are just as confidential as the contact details of their sources and the contents of their communication with them,” said Michael Konken, head of the union which represents about 38,000 journalists. He said there were safe alternatives for both searches and email.
And while in the US having one’s dirty laundry is almost perceived as a status symbol by a culture that encourages online exhibitionism via Facebook and other social media (so what if some bureaucrat in Virginia knows more than what is public), in Germany privacy is actually taken seriouysly.
The German government said last week it had evidence that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone had been monitored by U.S. intelligence.Government snooping is especially sensitive in Germany, which has among the strictest privacy laws in the world, since it dredges up memories of eavesdropping by the Stasi secret police in former communist East Germany.
Earlier this month, Deutsche Telekom said it wanted German companies to cooperate to shield local internet traffic from foreign intelligence services, although experts believe this could be an uphill battle.
In August, Deutsche Telekom and its partner United Internet launched an initiative dubbed “E-mail made in Germany” to protect clients’ email traffic.
And in other news, it is increasingly looking likely that none other than Ed Snowden will be called to testify against the NSA in a German court of law. Germany’s ARD reported that Snowden is willing in principal to help shed light on U.S. spying but outlined his complicated legal situation. As we noted earlier, German Greek politician Stroebele proposed possible safe conduct to Berlin, and granting Snowden a residence permit that would prevent extradition. Snowden attorney Anatoly Kutscherena earlier said he wouldn’t comment on alleged NSA spying on Angela Merkel.
Ironically, this follow news that Snowden would take a position with Russian Internet company Vkontakte, a local analogue to Facebook, to develop major website, according to his lawyer.
So if Obama was hoping that all the late summer scandals that have taken his reptuation to an all time low would at least push the NSA spying scandal away from the front page, he may need some additional fabricated and YouTube-validated false flag wars very soon.
- German journalists urged to shun Google and Yahoo – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Fugitive Snowden ‘may help Germany’ (bbc.co.uk)