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Vortrag von Thomas Krüger "Überwachen in Demokratien und in Diktaturen / Surveillance in dictatorships and democracies" am Goethe Institut am 26. Februar 2015 in New York | Presse |

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Vortrag von Thomas Krüger "Überwachen in Demokratien und in Diktaturen / Surveillance in dictatorships and democracies" am Goethe Institut am 26. Februar 2015 in New York

/ 23 Minuten zu lesen

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Dear Mr Bartmann,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

when in October 1989 I was taking part in founding a Social Democratic Party in the German Democratic Republic, our greatest task was to find a big enough and hidden room without the Stasi – the Ministry of State Security of the late GDR – knowing where exactly we were going to meet. To cut a long story short, I was very successful by preventing the well-known grey Ladas – Russian cars which were faster and more “elegant” than GDR-made Trabbis – to follow us to our meeting in Schwante near Berlin. The night before we had not slept at home, so that the Stasi spies were not able to simply follow us in the morning.

- And nowadays? The idea that in the digital age we simply cannot be traced is at least naïve.

When in June 2013 the news broke that an employee of the National Security Agency, the NSA, has turned whistleblower, and being on the run with some terabyte of secret information about the world’s most sophisticated intelligence service, half of the world certainly held its breath. The other half quite likely could not avoid a malicious smile.

In Germany these revelations instantaneously evoked comparisons with its own not so distant past. The corpse of the infamous secret service of the GDR is still exhaling its bad odor. In parts of the German debate, the NSA is sometimes regarded as a Stasi of the twenty-first century, a digital revenant of the analogous cold war, the logical consequence of digitization, Facebook, Google, the new world order and US hegemony.

But can such comparisons be made? Apart from the technical differences and the digital revolution that is taking place around us: Can you really compare the (presumably) “democratic NSA” with the “dictatorial Stasi”?

The comparison leads us to more general aspects: Are there any strong reasons for surveillance in modern societies? What are possible consequences of surveillance for our democratic culture? How can a modern society respond to security threats if not by expanding the activities of intelligence services? When does hypertrophy of intelligence services start to be problematic?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

before I start I would like to thank the Goethe Institute for inviting me to this exciting event and having the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

The Federal Agency for Civic Education is a federal public authority providing citizenship education and information on political issues for all people in Germany. The work done by my institution centers on promoting awareness for democracy and participation in politics.

Every year we focus our work on special issues in order to highlight some cutting-edge developments within politics and society. This year one of our main topics is surveillance. So I really appreciate the opportunity to present some facets of the relationship between surveillance and digitization - and how they are discussed within my agency and within German society.

Why a comparison is fruitful

Let me start with a simple statement: On closer look the NSA is neither new, nor does it really resemble the Stasi.

But in taking a comparative examination, it may be possible to engage in the different modes of surveillance of the two intelligence services.

Moreover, both the Stasi and the NSA are good examples for hypertrophic institutions. Hypertrophy denotes, and let me quote from a medical dictionary: “an enlargement or overgrowth of an organ” or an “excessive growth”. Translated into our terminology, that means: an inappropriate enlargement of institutions.

Hence the examples of the Stasi and the NSA are excellent, in order to show and discuss why it is that these kind of clandestine agencies tend to grow beyond any rationality. And maybe it is this particular feature that makes both agencies apt for a comparison and a general discussion about the work and function of secret intelligence services in our world today. The general question I would like to pursue throughout this talk is what we can today learn from the experience with the Stasi in order to avoid a similar culture of absolute and permanent surveillance, distrust and threat.

Surveillance as characteristic for disciplinary society

To start on safe ground: Intelligence agencies and their personnel are here to stay. Quite strangely their very own existence together with their modus operandi is the main reason for this. The gathering of information (in secret) is a form of exercising power.

It is very rewarding to dwell on this subject for a short while. Michel Foucault in „Discipline and Punish” (Überwachen und Strafen) described how the practices of supervision and their functions in modern societies have developed and changed. Social inclusion, exclusion and vertical hierarchies are all being used to form and discipline individuals.

Foucault does not regard these forms of exercising power solely as means of suppression, but also as productive instruments to control societies. It is by these mechanisms that individuals are constituted who then compose a society.

By creating intermediating instances such as companies, trade unions, families or the youth welfare offices, the norms of societies together with social control between institutions and individuals are fixed, organized and networked.

Foucault is using the metaphor of a panopticon to describe modern societies. It is the image of a perfect prison: There is a tower in the middle, from where the jailors can look into the cells, which are set in a circle around the tower. The prisoners are under permanent control of the guards. They are observed all the time, but cannot see the guards. The effect is that the inmates change their behavior and adapt it to the rules, which are predefined by the observing and punishing guards. The panopticon is the perfect image for modern disciplinary society.

In some sense security services are disciplinary instruments in their own right, helping to enforce social norms, especially regarding public safety. And quite clearly secret services come in many forms and disguises. They are responsible for a whole array of very different tasks: from code breaking to information gathering behind enemy lines or within befriended governments, from recruiting traitors to actively killing identified targets, from protecting home countries to winning a war somewhere else. Depending on your perspective, role and side taken, your preferences and judgments will be different.

Hollywood has for many years played a vital role in shaping the image of secret services, most notably of those from America itself, but also of others. James Bond before all others has become the icon of the gentleman spy, saving the freedom of the West and fighting the evils of its communist and war mongering antipodes in the East. Such films have contributed also to the justification of the existence and working methods of secret services in the name of the defense of freedom and democracy.

But there are other depictions and narratives, too. Francis Ford Coppola’s „The Conversation“ from 1974 displayed the surveillance technologies and methods of the day. Other films of that era such as „3 Days of the Condor“, the „Parallax View“ or indeed „All the President's Men“ about the Watergate scandal, were following this critical route and questioned the role of secret intelligence services. Since 9/11, intelligence services have become yet again a topic of the entertainment sector. The intelligence series „Spooks“ in Britain and „Homeland“ in the USA are quite ambivalent in how they portray the work and inner thinking of such agencies.

What becomes clear however, is that spies, secrecy and the ability to covert action don’t come without costs: deceit and distorted truth are two of the main faculties needed within this business. These have become two of the structural aspects on which the work of intelligence agencies are being built. A third aspect is knowledge and the gathering of information.

Knowledge is the currency

Knowledge is the currency which circulates in the work of any intelligence service. One needs to know more than the other side; more than ones’ own citizens; in fact more about the citizens than these know about themselves. Knowledge is generated from information and used to formulate decisions, future actions and policies, for or against enemies, friends or citizens.

The NSA and the Stasi alike have made it their core business to collect information, to process and to act upon it. Both have become emblematic in their representation of what a secret service is all about in terms of information gathering to the end of a questionable image of national security and its consequences. The Stasi does not exist anymore and is subject to historical analysis. The NSA is part of the daily news, much to their own dislike, I would assume, since the revelations of their ex-employee Edward Snowden.

Both are not only very good examples of different modes of information gathering in two different technological and ideological eras, but they also share certain features that explain why intelligence services tend to grow beyond control and eventually pose a threat to the very countries they were created to protect. A real hypertrophy.

In the following I would like to discuss the differences of the services, then highlight some of its particular features and will then proceed to show which of these features induced their hypertrophy and to what consequences.


We know a lot about the NSA since Snowden, so I will begin with the infamous Stasi, as an example of a secret service in a non-democratic, socialist state in the cold war era in the second half of the twentieth century. Despite its historic character, the Stasi is by no means history as its legacy affects German society to this day and is likely to do so for years to come.

The Stasi existed between 1950 and 1990, when the State of East Germany, the GDR, was united with the Federal Republic of Germany – West-Germany – to become Germany as it exists today. Its birth is owed to the cold war that began very soon after Nazi Germany was defeated and Germany divided into four zones of occupation.

Some motives for its formation can be found in complaints about increasing acts of sabotage and theft in state owned industries, on farms and within the traffic sector in the Soviet controlled eastern zone. The bureau for the protection of the national economy wanted more influence in counteracting these threats and attacks on the young state. That bureau was subsequently transformed into the Ministry of State Security – the STASI. Another very strong motive was fear – simple fear because there were still so many Nazis around in both parts of the divided Germany, and the build-up of a “new society” was embattled.

The head of the bureau for the protection of the national economy argued that it was time to react against “criminal elements” and spies which were sent and ordered by the West, particularly the Americans, to sabotage against the GDR, hence against socialism as a whole. This man a few years later became the minister for state security and synonymous with surveillance, oppression, and the system of the unofficial informers or stool pigeons in East-Germany: Erich Mielke, heading the Stasi from 1957 until its end in 1989/1990.

According to its self-narration the Stasi had its roots as a classical intelligence service against foreign enemies. But from the first day of its existence it was created as a political secret service, following the strategy of political cleansing and brutal oppression that was introduced by the Soviets and part of what was to become known as Stalinism.

Although the origins of the Stasi system were by no means innovative, it was very different from the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) of the Nazis, which was in regard to the overall population much smaller. The Nazis could rely on mass loyalty until the end – the Socialist Unity Party was never supported by a majority of GDR citizens. Thus the design and place of the Stasi within the nomenclature and the architecture of the “real socialist” German state implies its own hypertrophy and almost omnipotent character.

In its first phase the Stasi established what can be called the rule of terror – either openly, by show trials or open suppression, or by means of bureaucracy. In its last phase Mielke’s men and women were experts in “decomposing” (“zersetzen”) individuals by secretly destroying people’s lives, for example by organizing traffic accidents, ending careers by lies and slander, directing school success or failure of students. In this sense the Stasi was very present in the daily routine of many people, and it played a central role in the suppressive strategies of the ruling party.

From the outset the gathering of intelligence against „enemies“, „fascists“ or „unreliable elements“ within the party itself could rely on a substantial number of personnel. In 1953 already 10.000 full-time employees were working for the Stasi, three years later it were 16.000. This was not unusual and indeed comparable to other communist regimes under Soviet control. The Stasi developed into a bureaucracy of its own. But it was never a state-within-a-state: Officially the Stasi called itself “Schild und Schwert der Partei”, shield and sword of the Party, the Socialist Unity Party. The party was its principal, its client, the Stasi its willing instrument.

The GDR was a state based on a culture of suspicion and disguise. The Stasi did everything to foster this culture and use it for its own means to sustain and expand its power. To this end it widely used so called “Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter”, unofficial employees – not working professionally for the Stasi, but as informers. Between 1950 and 1952 they recruited approximately 30.000 persons that spied upon friends, families or colleagues.

The staff doubled every ten years, and in 1982 roughly 81.500 persons were working for the Stasi. At the end of the East-German state the Stasi had about 91.000 staff – one for every 180 citizens. As to the „unofficials“ their number was even higher. From 20 to 30.000 in the 1950 they grew to 100.000 in 1968 on to about 173.000 individuals in 1989, when the state came to an end. These persons worked in varying capacities for the Stasi – on the whole stabilizing the power of the SED and its leading role within the state.

I believe it is fair to say that the continuous growth of the service is based on this culture of suspicion, which was emblematic for all socialist states during the Cold War – in fact a culture, which is characteristic for authoritarian regimes around the world. Everyone is a potential enemy, especially the own citizens – or rather subjects. And once started, such an attitude commences a vicious circle of mistrust, suspicion, control, surveillance, repression, which can go as far as outright violence.

The culture of suspicion was the driving force behind the hypertrophy of the Stasi: If you fear everyone, everyone can be a suspect. No one can be trusted, not even your father or your best friend. And to keep on top of the game, to control a whole society, which in the Cold War was opposed by the enemy at its gates, meant to invest in intelligence, to generate knowledge through as many information sources as one could get hold of. In an authoritarian regime this seemed to be easier than in a democratic society. In its own words the Stasi used the means of war during peace to be prepared and fight the enemy wherever emerging.

To be fair, the Cold War of course had its impact on both sides of the divide. To think that paranoia was a specifically communist condition would tell only half of the story. West German intelligence services with the help of their American and British cousins had spied upon its own citizens, too - in a democratic state that was suspicious of all things “left”. Sometimes a member of the tiny communist party in West Germany was in danger of losing his job as a postman – but he was not in danger to lose his mind because the secret service destroyed his life.

But let me come back to the Stasi and its powers. These did not only involve the powers of total surveillance and information gathering through the large network of official and unofficial employees. It also had the power to fabricate such information in the first place. Which in turn means that its constant growth could be easily justified by its success to respond to the thus perceived threats, regardless of facts, actual evidence or need.

Like so many other bureaucracies, the Stasi grew – however unproportional – out of its own needs and necessities for its own good and that of their leaders. This means that hypertrophy is originating in suspicion and the ability to fabricate this suspicion and even “proof”. Unlike so many other secret services the Stasi in all its facets was a total institution, covering, rather penetrating nearly every aspect of society in East-Germany, serving the SED to the very end. The Academy-award winning film “The Life of Others” shows the Stasi’s all-encompassing – and partly absurd – character in an illustrative manner.


It seems to be a foolish attempt to instantly turn to our second subject matter: the NSA. Since the Snowden revelations this American secret service has gained an unprecedented prominence, and not in the best sense. As an omnipotent spying agency disregarding civil rights of citizens around the globe, it is much talked about since June 2013.

But what is actually different about the NSA, compared to the Stasi? Are we currently witnessing the erosion of all civil rights, our privacy, our freedom and eventually our democracies? And if so: What can we learn from the Stasi experience today? What looks like a straightforward answer, is indeed more complicated than it seems.

The NSA was founded in 1952 by order of President Harry Truman, because the USA had been caught off guard by the incidents leading to the Korean War. It had been built on previously existing, but discontinued services established to break codes and ciphers. So like the Stasi the NSA owed its birth to the cold war. Decoding enemy communication, and that was the sole purpose of the NSA when being founded, is a very old business.

Encrypting and decrypting information was for a long time the main mode of operation. Today it is the largest of the US intelligence services with a staff of roughly 40.000 people, working in its headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Two thirds of these are military personnel, the rest is civilian. This is just half the people officially employed by the Stasi in 1982.

Its main focus was on what is called Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) of enemies from abroad. They listened to all communications around the globe. They were able to decode and encrypt all sorts of information and were at the forefront of developing new coding methods, new software and the most advanced computer technology needed to listen into the world.

But the world was not enough. It had to be the USA as well. Spying on US citizens by US agencies is nothing new. The FBI did engage in what today is remembered as the McCarthy era. The agency spied on US citizens in their search for communist subversion. The Oscar-nominated film “Selma” tells a story about this dark chapter of US history. And also today secret agencies have robust powers do so as part of their work in counter intelligence: nothing the NSA has a mandate to do.

But also they were part of a scandal in the 1970s, revealed by the so-called Church committee, named after Senator Frank Church. It was part of the investigation stemming from the Watergate affair. That Senate investigation found the NSA and other intelligence agencies engaged in a massive domestic spying program, targeting anti-war protesters, civil rights activists, and political opponents. At the time Senator Church remarked, and I quote:

„That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.“

The NSA most certainly lost its innocence then. But it did remain in the back of the intelligence discussion, which for years to come was more focused on the CIA and its often dirty wars in Latin America and elsewhere. For the NSA this may have been a mishap only, not questioning the general policy of their code of conduct. But what the quote also shows is that forty years ago there already was an awareness for the consequences of spying on citizens and the values of a free society.

To understand the role of the NSA today, we need to fast forward to 2001, namely the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. One could think of this being the initial reason for the hyper growth of the NSA and its new politics, which has been described by Glenn Greenwald as the „collect-it-all“-mission. But it did not need such a liminal experience of intelligence failure to rephrase and reconfigure its mission. It just needed the explosion of the Internet and data traffic around the globe.

The NSA has shifted its attention, or rather expanded its attention towards domestic surveillance. The almost unlimited possibilities in terms of technology and knowledge that the NSA has acquired was now employed to find the enemies within.

Since 9/11, which was also an intelligence disaster, all information at all times has become relevant. The Patriot Act which was signed in 2001 gave the agencies and the US state almost limitless powers to do whatever they thought was right to do to protect America in the future. This was neither good for America, nor for many other countries and some individuals around the world.

As one result the internet started to evolve as the new battle ground of intelligence and indeed the warfare of the twenty-first century. Governments were starting to talk about cyberwars. From what we know today, the NSA was at the very forefront of this new spectacle. Its budget and personnel grew accordingly. National security, if not the security of the Western world, was at stake. And America used the NSA for its war on terror and on its ennemies.

If we trust the many analyses and reports on the NSA that came after the Snowden revelations it seems fair to say that SIGINT is no longer the main task of the NSA, but global digital cyberwar. And indeed the NSA, and its partners in the so called five eyes network – an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the US – have developed into an omnipotent secret service. The ability of this network to gather information across the globe is unprecedented. And most frighteningly it seems that the nominal masters of the NSA, those who should be controlling the service, have lost its grip – and are not too unhappy about it.

NSA’s expansion

It is not only that the NSA has expanded its reach in the digital age, it also has found new partners in the internet industry. The willingness of some of the big Californian internet enterprises, such as Facebook, Google or Microsoft, is very telling. National security no longer knows any limits. The world is characterized by the use of digital device and services in such a way that social scientists speak of the new culture of the digital.

As many studies have shown, the mere size of the invasion lies beyond what the ordinary citizen can oversee, let alone comprehend. The NSA and other agencies engaged in similar operations attach their surveillance, at least in those regions of the world where it matters, to the digital forms of our lives. Our consumer behavior and patterns are their highways of information.

Surveillance and control become part of our consumption, our way of life, while simultaneously claiming that all these measures exist for our own safety. We can still vote, say in public what we need to say, express ourselves and criticize the NSA or other agencies and their respective governments for their outrageous conduct.

But we need to ask questions about the framework of such democracies. And in the context of my few remarks, it seems inevitable to ask whether the NSA is on its way to become the new, the digital Stasi, and thus indeed a threat to the ways we live and want to continue to live, that is, as free citizens in democracies.

Quality of “hyper growth”

From what has been said it becomes clear that secret intelligence services have an inherent quality of “hyper growth”, often beyond reason. Once established the very justification of their existence is often skewed when the supposed enemy from outside or from within ceases to exist or pose a threat. New ones will be identified, constructed or simply created. Intelligence services always know more about the world than their controlling governments. They use this knowledge and all the information they can lay their hands on for their self-perpetuation.

The NSA and the Stasi are neither an exception to this rule, nor are they the only or first services where this could be shown. It is safe to say that the hypertrophy of secret intelligence services is one of their inherent qualities. As they are engaged in the fight against an enemy – wherever it is localized or from wherever it is attacking – the very question they have to answer is: Can you ever know enough? And the answer quite logically is: Never!

Information flood

Hence, building security onto this presumption means that there is no natural limit to their activities and targets. Everyone may be a terrorist or enemy, so everyone is a suspect. Secret services exist on a culture of suspicion. It is their operating rationale.

During its last years and months the Stasi was flooded by information which it could not digest at all any longer. Remember, it was still the analogous age. Respectively, the wide-spread fear was vanishing. These are the remnants of the Stasi’s work – a terrible and somehow ridiculous array of assets: 39 million index cards, 111 Kilometers of document files, 1,75 million photographs, 2800 films and videos and 28.400 audiotapes. And there still are about 5.500 sacks with so far unsighted and torn paper snips. If you would try to assess the abilities and maybe the success of the Stasi you have to take also into account the huge expenses regarding personnel and money. The monstrous collections of information in the end could not stop, not even slow down the collapse of the state.

For the NSA, on the contrary, the digestion of information is not a problem; you can always edit an algorithm or write a suitable computer program. But the step from all the collected information to an effective shelter from terror seems to be very wide: The killers from Paris or Copenhagen were well-known to the authorities, some were even supervised, but the terrorist acts could not have been prevented. The immediate and inescapable question is: Does it really matter how much information is collected, or is quality and efficiency of the services much more relevant?

Having said this, it seems irrelevant what political system they exist in – democracy, authoritarian regime or dictatorship. The rationale of secret services is not dependent on these – but their justification is.

Freedom vs. oppression

This means that the NSA and its cousin agencies claim to be defending the freedom of the American citizen, by all means necessary, which also means to treat the very citizen as a suspect in general.

But the Stasi, like so many other similar agencies in other countries throughout history up until the present, was an instrument of mass oppression. Gathering intelligence was but one means to control society, to guarantee the rule of a rather small class of individuals or a certain party. The Stasi was an instrument to gain total control over society and its individuals.

Indeed the NSA does not intent to take our freedom away; the NSA is based on and depends on the notion of freedom, as its existence is justified through the defense of our democratic freedoms. While the Stasi made its presence felt in so many spheres of life, the NSA operates in the dark. Its success depends on remaining anonymous and invisible.

The German philosopher and theologian Bernhard Taureck speaks of a surveillance democracy, in which we keep our freedom and liberties, at the cost of perceiving the NSA as the transcendent god, a religion, the omnipotent protector, all-knowing, but also there for us all. This is a sham, of course, and the more we expose it, the more we are able to liberate ourselves. According to Foucault’s notion, the subjects start to automatically control, censor, and discipline themselves in the face of their internalized surveillance.

Democratic control

The differences between NSA and Stasi cannot be found in their conduct – they can be found in the options of the society to deal with such audacious and obscene behavior, for example in the form of a Senate investigation. Democracies are able to do this, and citizens should be eager to stand up for these rights and democratic means.

The internet is the backbone of today’s world, the digital a way of life for many. What in the 1990s was regarded as an instrument of emancipation, freedom and possibilities has been rendered into an instrument of control, of terror, threat and counter-insurgency. The NSA is leading this battle in a democratic society. And here lies one big difference to the Stasi and its activities. Although the NSA operates in secrecy and in doing so breaches existing laws of the USA as well as those of many other states, our societies enable us to reveal such activities, expose them to the public, scandalize them and if necessary take them to court – without getting punished. Although this does not hold true for Snowden and his fellow whistle-blowers, the final verdict on them is still out.

We as citizens together with the elected politicians are not only able to reveal such activities, but in fact can challenge such practices and put them under democratic control through committees. As we elect our leaders, these must in return answer to us and justify their actions. They must be accountable for what they do. Whether this always happens remains open to debate.

But the fact that President Barack Obama just recently has announced measures to limit the surveillance powers of the NSA – especially concerning the deletion of materials deemed irrelevant – may be seen as a result of these democratic structures. They simply do not exist in authoritarian states to this extent – or are met with contempt and negligence. For whatever such controls are worth in practice, they are important and key to the control of hypertrophic secret services.

Democratic internet

Technology has become democratized in the process and may be used against the techno-elite, as the British political scientist Richard Barbrook suggests. The structure of the internet has not lost its appeal and the democratic potential for politics from below.

Although today‘s open societies are as vulnerable to spying as to acts of terror, to monitoring of activities because they are digital, the digital is also a chance to counter the politics of the secret, the rationale of suspicion and the hypertrophy of the agencies.

The key to this does not lie in ever more intelligence, but in building more trust among citizens, between citizens and the states and between states as well. The democratic rights and every attempt to have such controls enforced through political and legal action, is an important building stone to create trust. Transparency in general may generate such trust and hence better relationships between the state and its citizens.

Heroic composure Perhaps we also need some of whatHerfried Münkler, professor at Humboldt University in Berlin calls „heroic composure“ (heroische Gelassenheit). In an interview a couple of years ago Münkler put it as follows: „The terrorist attacks are out to create fear. Nervous insecurity shall question our way of life and weaken our society. Because of that we have to bring ourselves to more than just peevish indifference: We have to fasten our moral belts and show that we won’t change our everyday life and our values. That means to carry on taking the subway, even if we are aware of the possible danger. With this heroic composure we guarantee that our society keeps on working. By denying panic we are forming a line of resistance which will stop the terrorist attacks.“

Free societies are not only under threat by terror, but can also fail because of an exaggerated, „hypertrophic“ need for security. To give in to this need for security, writes Münkler, means in the long run to give up freedom, tolerance and openness – and thereby play into the hands of the terrorists. The result would be a society which is heavily armed on the outside in order that nothing happens to the “soft, frail people in the inside“. This society would be totally dependent on guarantees for its security by the state. In Münkler’s opinion, our civil society would die of this “hypertrophic” need for security. Which seems as if Foucault’s theses of self-discipline would have become true on state level.

To stop all this we have to praise and develop all the instruments which democratic societies have on offer. Does this sound like Utopia? Maybe. But transparency and efficient democratic control may be the only way to avoid yet another Stasi, and to curb the mystic powers of secret intelligence services. And the fact that you can use the internet to fight the dark sides of the internet is exciting. In a way, this may refer to a new “dialectic of enlightenment”.

Please excuse me for this naivety, but maybe we were also naive when we started to imagine a GDR without SED and Stasi in the spring of the historical year 1989. Democratic empowerment is the word, if we don't want that the invisibility, technological expertise, and lack of oversight of the intelligence services threaten our freedom – and if we want to avoid the potential abuse of all our data being collected.

Thank you for your attention!

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