The German Prism: Berlin Wants to Spy Too

Der Himmel über BerlinThe German government has been largely silent on revelations of US Internet spying. Berlin profits from the program, is pursuing similar plans. Just a few days ago, the man whom many Germans now see as one of the greatest villains in the world visited Berlin. Keith Alexander, the head of the world’s most powerful intelligence operation, National Security Agency, had arranged meetings with key representatives of the German government, including top-ranking officials in Germany’s intelligence agencies and leading representatives of the Chancellery and the Interior Ministry. Alexander gave his usual presentation about how the world could be more effectively spied on and allegedly made safer. At such presentations, NSA chief likes to extol the virtues of his agency’s “incredible technical expertise,” and he urges allies to invest more in controlling +  monitoring today’s new technologies. Alexander maintains there has to be more intensive surveillance of Internet. But while they were still chatting about the Internet in Berlin government offices, news stories were breaking around the world that Alexander’s NSA may already have Web firmly under its control. Former US intelligence official named Edward Snowden had leaked information to the press on the virtually all-encompassing Prism online surveillance program. The world soon learned that Alexander’s NSA, with the help of direct access to the servers of US Internet giants, is able to secretly read, record, store every type of digital communication worldwide. The public also discovered that the Americans have a preference for spying on Germany, more so than on any other country in Europe. During the days of the Cold War, when Germans referred to US as “big brother” it had a positive connotation. Now, that term has entirely different meaning. Snowden’s leak raises big questions: How much surveillance of Internet is a free society willing or able to tolerate? Does the fear of attacks justify comprehensive monitoring of e-mails, search queries on Google, conversations on Skype? Can a country like Germany allow its citizens to be spied on by another country? The Surveillance cannot be based on blind faith in a democracy, but rather on a wide degree of acceptance by informed citizens, politicians and allied countries. This is by no means the case with Prism. There are plenty of reasons to venture a confrontation with the Americans over this issue, particularly in Germany, where there has been a greater awareness of the importance of data protection than elsewhere in world, where citizens have engaged in heated debates over routine data collection efforts such as the national census. “When the foreign agencies infringe upon fundamental rights on the German territory, State cannot look away,” says Dieter Deiseroth, judge at Germany’s Federal Administrative Court. “Accepting the massive collection of private information would be a serious violation of the principle that every state has to defend such rights,” he contends (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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