The year is coming to an end ever so rapidly – at least it feels like that for many of us. It is also the time of retrospection and of awards for this past year’s achievements.

One such award is the Journalist Prize presented each year by Germany’s Data Protection Foundation, a private trust that was founded in 2013 by the Federal Republic of Germany. It is a not- for-profit organization that has been established in order to enable citizens to take the protection of their personal data into their own hands by way of information and education programs. It is the foundation’s goal to establish a forum for dialogue that develops proposals for a practice-oriented and effective data policy. The foundation annually awards a Journalist Prize, endowed with 5,000 €, for balanced reporting on data protection.

This year, the prize was awarded to independent journalist Harald Maass for his article “Totale Kontrolle” (“Total Control”) which was published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Maass had previously worked as a correspondent for China. In his investigative article, Maass shed light on the circumstances under which people in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, an area mainly inhabited by the people of the Uighurs, are subjected to surveillance in their daily lives, for instance by means of facial recognition and telephone monitoring. The program, which, according to Maass, amounts to a total surveillance, supposedly serves as a testing-ground for a possible future implementation of the technology in the entire country or for export.

The award was presented by laudatory speaker Prof. Dr. Lutz Frühbrodt of the University Würzburg-Schweinfurt in the setting of the foundation’s “DatenTag” (“DataDay”) event that took place on November 13, 2019 in Berlin. Maas concluded his acceptance speech with the remark that freedom needs privacy.