Stop Stasi 2.0

Thursday, April 19, 2007 at 2:43 | Posted in Blogosphere, civil rights, computer, eu, Freedom of speech, Germany, internet, privacy, terrorism | 4 Comments
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Picture: Dataloo, under Creative Commons

Stasi used to be the Ministry for State Security in the former communist East Germany. They had a network of informants covering practically every citizen so they knew every little detail about everybody. Everybody was a potential threat against the ruling communists so there was a presumption of guilt against every citizen.

I can only imagine what sort of sophisticated tools the East German Stasi would have used if communism had survived to the age of web 2.0. The police would probably have secretly installed governmental trojans to innocent citizens’ home and office computers. They would have easedropped and recorded everybody’s e-mail traffic and phone calls. Records would have been kept on web sites visited. And so on.

Luckily, all of Germany is democratic so this is not something Germans would have to worry about. Unless, of course, the German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble happened to think that the presumption of innocence can and should be put aside if there is a chance that a citizen is connected to terrorists. Never mind article 20 of the constitution, it can not be applied when hunting terrorists. Every criminal investigation could theoretically have importance in the fight against terrorism which is why Mr. Schäuble is a strong proponent of surveillance on line.

Bloggers are a strange crowd of people. They do not tend to like it when a government which is supposed to be democratic tries to use undemocratic methods. They especially hate it when a supposedly democratic government is trying to interfere in the freedom of the World Wide Web.

German bloggers are no exception. Just look at the number of pings to this post, a cry for distress against the measures proposed by Wolfgang Schäuble. More than 40 responses just in a couple of days. As Farlion points out, Technorati returns about 1500 links to a Stasi 2.0 query.

The issue is not just German. Germany is the largest member country of the EU. If such a restrictive legislation were passed in Germany, it would not take long before it would be enforced throughout EU.

So I am not only concerned for my friends in Germany although I am concerned for them. The freedom of us all is at stake here. Which is why you and I had better do something about it before it is too late.


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  1. […] Larko hat bis jetzt den einzigen Artikel geschrieben, den ich wirklich lesenswert finde. Frei von diesen Dauerbeleidigungen unterhalb der oft ohnehin schon tief hängenden Gürtellinie, schreibt er aus der Sicht eines europäischen Ausländers und zieht Parallelen zwischen dem Bespitzelungssystem der DDR und der nahenden Bedrohung durch die Aushebelung der Grundrechte hier bei uns. […]

  2. Nice post and well said. Unfortunately it has become normality in Germany to sit and wait apathetically until somebody takes away your freedom, only to complain afterwards that there is nothing you can do about it. I sometimes wished Germans were more like the French: they tend to freak out whenever their politicians don’t do as they like.

  3. People are more or less similar allover. The French may look different but they, too, often react after something has been decided rather than before. Nobody in France said much about the constitutional treaty of EU while it was still being debated. They just voted it down when it was too late to change anything in it, thus paralyzing all of the EU.

    I do not think that many people anywhere in Europe understand how deep the governments are going to dig into their privacy if this sort of legislation will be passed. There is quite a lot of unofficial surveillance as it is but if it will be legalized there would be no boundaries at all.

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