I am a german computer scientist living in China. Therefore I am aware of the lack of possibility of free speech in certain matters and I am often confronted with the internet censorship which, besides the sites which are intentionally blocked by the chinese authorities, are blocked because of the incapability of the techniques used to filter the internet content. Often when I am looking for strictly technical informations I have to use a Proxy to gain access to the webpages I am looking for.
In Germany we are very proud of our democratic achievements like the possibility of (nearly) free speech for everybody.
Since 9/11 the fear of terrorism undermined already many of these achievements for a higher level of security for our people, as it is said. Now I am following the debate about child porns which is in itself an absolute horrible thing which should absolutely be attacked. But how many of our democratic achievements, of our rights as population of a democratic country, are we willing to be tipped over on the behalf of this fight?
This morning I read this article on netzpolitik.org, a germany blog which tries to show also the news which do not make it into the big newspapers but which are important for a democracy because they are controversial. This article describes the search of the house of the german owner of the domain wikileaks.de
What is shocking me about this is not the fact that they searched the house but how they did it. If it is true how the police proceeded they broke the rule of law in the name of the pursuite of information about child porns and trampled over our basic law.
During my school time many of our history classes were about the Third Reich in the idea to make it impossible that something like the Third Reich ever can happen again. With my innocent mind I asked myself how can such a thing like the Third Reich happen at all because there must have been many people who could have done something against it.
Looking back over the last years I can see that step by step the authorities highered the control over our population. I don’t want to ask why the german Autobahn is controlled with a multi-purpose video system for the truck maut and not with a much simpler and more cost effective system? Do they really use it only to monitor the kilometers a truck is driving? The same question has to be asked for the internet filter system. Once install, which use will it find after all?
The path to hell is paved with good intentions!
In the late 20s and early 30s of the last century there was a small party which used the upcoming fear of communism and of the economic problems of the Weimarer Republik in Germany very effective to implement restrictions to the german population. Step by step with more or less reasonable arguments they established themselves until they were so powerful that nobody dared to say anything against them any more.
They created the GeStaPo, a police force which:
The inception of the Gestapo, police acting outside of any civil authority, highlighted the Nazis’ intention to use powerful, coercive means to directly control German society. An army, estimated to be of about 100,000, spies and informants operated throughout Germany, reporting to Nazi officials the activities of any critics or dissenters.
The Gestapo had the authority to investigate treason, espionage and sabotage cases, and cases of criminal attacks on the Nazi Party and Germany.
If you exchange the Nazis in the quotes against the authorities and think of the 100,000 spies as nowadays technical possibilities of spying and controlling I cannot help to make a comparison with what is happening at the moment and have to ask: Do we really want to re-establish something like the most powerful instrument of depression of the population which was ever invented in Germany?
Changes are sneaking slowly into our society but I think specially we Germans have the duty to be always alert that the bad things of our history cannot repeat and I had rather that you are shocked about my comparison of what is going on with the Third Reich then with the results of what might happen.
I think we all had high hopes about what the actual government might have been able to change to our good when the two biggest parties joined together. But as for today I can only state that I am very disappointed about the actual government. None of the big problems were attacked and instead they are restricting our basic rights more and more.