Strong judiciary but worrying new laws
Solid constitutional guarantees and an independent judiciary ensure a favorable environment for journalists in Germany. The constitutional court has issued several rulings defending press freedom and related fundamental rights. However, far-right groups and demonstrators threaten, harass and in some cases even physically attack journalists – a worrying trend that arose in 2015 and intensified in 2018. Judicial authorities sometimes exceed legal parameters when investigating leaks to the press. A 2017 law on social network hate speech threatens platform providers with heavy fines if they fail to remove “clearly illegal” content quickly. As well as encouraging excessive data blocking, this law has been used as a model for oppressive laws in other countries, including Russia and the Philippines. Other recent laws, which include provisions on whistleblowers and penalise the media’s use of leaks, have also caused concern. Law governing the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) has legalised spying on foreign journalists outside the EU. German laws on access to information are weak compared with those in other countries. Media pluralism is slowly but steadily underminded by the closure of more and more newspapers and publishing houses for economic reasons.
15 in 2018
14.39 in 2018