Germany Has Chosen … Poorly

 

Me, two years ago, after the Bataclan massacre in Paris:

There are two possible responses to the dispersed threat of Islamic terrorism: Increased surveillance and security in the hopes that you’ll catch terrorists in the same net you use to corral regular citizens, or an empowered, aware citizenry that can stop an attack dead in its tracks. I prefer the second option myself, not only because it works, but it errs on the side of freedom, and that’s always a good thing.

Germany’s Interior Minister, today:

The RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) reported that Thomas de Maizière had written up a draft proposal for the interior minister conference, taking place next week in Leipzig, which he has called “the legal duty for third parties to allow for secret surveillance.”

De Maizière also wants the security services to have the ability to spy on any device connected to the internet. Tech companies would have to give the state “back door” access to private tablets and computers, and even to smart TVs and digital kitchen systems.

You went full Stasi, Herr de Maizière. Never go full Stasi.

There are 22 comments.

  1. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    The European mindset on the relationship between government and the common man is so alien to American sensibilities that such decisions leave us slack-jawed in shock. I always hope for freedom to prevail there, as I have in-laws and nephews in harm’s way, but I can’t say I’m truly surprised. Continental Europe really hasn’t abandoned its legacy of Roman law, where all rights and responsibilities are granted by Caesar.

    • #1
    • December 5, 2017, at 5:37 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  2. Kozak Member

    If the manufacturers yield to this ( and I have no doubt they will, just look at how they bend to China) it puts us all at risk.

    • #2
    • December 5, 2017, at 5:49 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  3. ctlaw Coolidge

    Kevin Creighton: There are two possible responses to the dispersed threat of Islamic terrorism: Increased surveillance and security in the hopes that you’ll catch terrorists in the same net you use to corral regular citizens, or…

    You are too kind to the left. They have no desire to “catch terrorists in the same net…”

    It is a pattern of leftists/statists to ignore terrorists (or other real criminals) and then use their crimes to impose restrictions on the rest of us. Thus, that “net” is intended to corral us and not the terrorists. They will ignore terrorists who could be caught by the net just like they ignore current warning signs. There’s a reason why nearly every terrorist is quickly said to have been “known to authorities”.

    • #3
    • December 5, 2017, at 5:50 AM PDT
    • 17 likes
  4. EJHill Podcaster

    Why did we fight a war, again?

    The Germans vacillate between contrite stupidity (Ve must let all ze refugees in!) and good old heavy handed worship of state power (Ve haft vays of making you cooperate…).

    Its moments like this that remind me Frau Merkel grew up in the East and her “official” memories of her time in University is often at odds with the memories of her classmates.

    • #4
    • December 5, 2017, at 6:47 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  5. David Foster Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    The European mindset on the relationship between government and the common man is so alien to American sensibilities that such decisions leave us slack-jawed in shock.

    Meanwhile, in American academia:

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/university-place-400-cameras-campus-catch-hate-crimes/

    • #5
    • December 5, 2017, at 8:05 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Rodin Member

    Statists sell “perfectibility” and make things perfectly miserable. True liberals sell imperfect liberty, and deliver general well-being. And yet statism dominates?

    • #6
    • December 5, 2017, at 8:12 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Valiuth Member

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    The European mindset on the relationship between government and the common man is so alien to American sensibilities that such decisions leave us slack-jawed in shock.

    Meanwhile, in American academia:

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/university-place-400-cameras-campus-catch-hate-crimes/

    I think there is a difference between filming public places ie. hall ways, quads, rec rooms, cafeterias, libraries etc and breaking into peoples rooms, cars, computers, etc to see what they are doing. You have no expectation of privacy in a public place. I guess if you knowingly buy and are informed at the time of purchase that your laptop has a giant gaping back hole to all your internet activities, and hard drive and you still buy it then that’s on you. Foisting it on people after the fact is villainous.

    • #7
    • December 5, 2017, at 8:33 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  8. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    You have no expectation of privacy in a public place.

    a) Personally, I agree.

    b) However, simply stating this doesn’t necessarily make it so. It’s a legal choice that the people of each jurisdiction has to make. Different jurisdictions have different limits on surveillance of public spaces.

    • #8
    • December 5, 2017, at 9:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    The European mindset on the relationship between government and the common man is so alien to American sensibilities that such decisions leave us slack-jawed in shock. I always hope for freedom to prevail there, as I have in-laws and nephews in harm’s way, but I can’t say I’m truly surprised. Continental Europe really hasn’t abandoned its legacy of Roman law, where all rights and responsibilities are granted by Caesar.

    On the other hand, the people of European countries have often been more likely to demonstrate and/or riot in the streets when their governments do things the people don’t like.

    In France it happens so often that it’s considered a “cost of doing business”.

    • #9
    • December 5, 2017, at 9:46 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Albert Nonymoose Inactive

    Look, sometimes for everyone to be safe, you have to monitor the lives of others.

    • #10
    • December 5, 2017, at 11:46 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Valiuth Member

    Misthiocracy, Valet To The Gods (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    You have no expectation of privacy in a public place.

    a) Personally, I agree.

    b) However, simply stating this doesn’t necessarily make it so. It’s a legal choice that the people of each jurisdiction has to make. Different jurisdictions have different limits on surveillance of public spaces.

    My rule is this. If you would be fine with having people standing around and watching out for trouble, well then a camera is just like that. Probably better. So if you have crossing guards, hallway monitors, or security guards, then you really should have no problem with cameras. Which serve a similar function with a trade off in advantages and disadvantages. though their biggest benefit is that they are cheap and have perfect memory. Though they can’t step in to help.

    • #11
    • December 5, 2017, at 12:15 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Valiuth Member

    Archie Campbell (View Comment):
    Look, sometimes for everyone to be safe, you have to monitor the lives of others.

    That’s how we justify police, crossing guards, etc.

    Here is the fundamental problem people have. We want things and services that will meet our needs and take care of us. The only way this can happen though is if they know us and watch us. So many bad things happen to us in private where it would be helpful to have someone come in. Wives get beaten in private, children are molested in private, murder is often committed in private, as well as theft, rape, etc. When those bad things are happening society respecting privacy might not seem that good to a victim, and certainly seems like a convenient barrier that empowers the perpetrators. They know they can abuse people because no one who can stop them is watching.

    So it is easy to worry about how lack of privacy and surveillance can be turned against us by a malicious government, but why is it not equally easy to appreciate how privacy is used to shield private wrong doers? I think one of the fears (and this is not an unreasonable fear) is that this new surveillance will not be applied equally. Who watches the watchers is the eternal question. Maybe the answer is to lower all privacy levels down considerably so everyone can watch everyone else. Which is essentially the function in small close knit communities, where privacy is hard to come by for practical limits.

    So we might ponder the notion that we now have too much practical privacy. That having more people and things that know us and watch us might be better overall.

    • #12
    • December 5, 2017, at 12:28 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy, Valet To The Gods (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    You have no expectation of privacy in a public place.

    a) Personally, I agree.

    b) However, simply stating this doesn’t necessarily make it so. It’s a legal choice that the people of each jurisdiction has to make. Different jurisdictions have different limits on surveillance of public spaces.

    My rule is this. If you would be fine with having people standing around and watching out for trouble, well then a camera is just like that. Probably better. So if you have crossing guards, hallway monitors, or security guards, then you really should have no problem with cameras. Which serve a similar function with a trade off in advantages and disadvantages. though their biggest benefit is that they are cheap and have perfect memory. Though they can’t step in to help.

    Yabbut, a security guard doesn’t (traditionally) have the ability to record the scene and put the footage up on the Internet for all to see. Also, it’s possible for suspicious-looking-but-innocent people to chat with a security guard and convince him that they aren’t doing anything wrong.

    There is definitely a substantive difference between human surveillance and electronic surveillance.

    • #13
    • December 5, 2017, at 12:55 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Albert Nonymoose Inactive

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Archie Campbell (View Comment):
    Look, sometimes for everyone to be safe, you have to monitor the lives of others.

    [Snip Valiuth’s comments.]

    Valiuth, you’ve made serious points, and stated them well, as usual. I was really just making an opportune reference to this film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405094/?ref_=nv_sr_1. It’s nice when everything lines up so perfectly.

    • #14
    • December 5, 2017, at 1:18 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    Archie Campbell (View Comment):
    Look, sometimes for everyone to be safe, you have to monitor the lives of others.

    “I understood that reference.” :)

    • #15
    • December 5, 2017, at 1:26 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Valiuth Member

    Archie Campbell (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Archie Campbell (View Comment):
    Look, sometimes for everyone to be safe, you have to monitor the lives of others.

    [Snip Valiuth’s comments.]

    Valiuth, you’ve made serious points, and stated them well, as usual. I was really just making an opportune reference to this film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405094/?ref_=nv_sr_1. It’s nice when everything lines up so perfectly.

    Oh I got the reference and it was well done sir.

    • #16
    • December 5, 2017, at 2:07 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Valiuth Member

    Misthiocracy, Valet To The Gods (View Comment):
    Yabbut, a security guard doesn’t (traditionally) have the ability to record the scene and put the footage up on the Internet for all to see. Also, it’s possible for suspicious-looking-but-innocent people to chat with a security guard and convince him that they aren’t doing anything wrong.

    There is definitely a substantive difference between human surveillance and electronic surveillance.

    Certainly. Like I said there are trade offs between the two, and usually you employ both to some degree. The thing is that the failure rate of human security might not be any better. An abusive guard will harass people doing nothing wrong, simply on his own suspicions and biases. The camera just makes a record so there is no up front cost. If you do nothing wrong it is like it isn’t even there.

    As to the issue of it recording something legal but embarrassing, well the guard can gossip, but you can also use technology to potentially take down such video’s should they surface. I think a thing to consider is an idea of private individuals being able to make appeals to have such content scrubbed from the internet as well as can reasonably be done. Certainly celebrities who have had intimate photos stolen I think have a good case to make that such photos should be removed from servers whenever found. A similar thing might be needed for regular people. Europe might not be entirely wrong to have a “right to be forgotten”. Which is an interesting twist on the whole privacy and technology issue. Since in this case the technology that causes the rapid dissemination of the material can also be used to wipe it out forever.

    Also another thing to consider. Privacy is in large part an offshoot of ones on perception and level of self consciousness. What if we change our standards? Are we really losing then? A quick example. Single gender bathrooms. Why do we have them? Mostly it is for reasons of privacy and modesty. But, if people simply did not mid or were used to sharing bathrooms with both genders because we were less self-conscience about the whole issues of bodily excretions, nudity, etc (all the stuff that goes into making it feel awkward to share a bathroom) would we be worse off? Right now it is an issue because it is a lot to ask people to change built in habits, taboos, etc. But, habits, taboos all change.

    19th century habits and mores might need to adjust to 21st century technology.

    • #17
    • December 5, 2017, at 2:21 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Front Seat Cat Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    The European mindset on the relationship between government and the common man is so alien to American sensibilities that such decisions leave us slack-jawed in shock. I always hope for freedom to prevail there, as I have in-laws and nephews in harm’s way, but I can’t say I’m truly surprised. Continental Europe really hasn’t abandoned its legacy of Roman law, where all rights and responsibilities are granted by Caesar.

    It’s still mind-boggling – the more devices we create for freedom and ease of life, the more we become enslaved. This is also too reminiscent of 70 years ago – is anyone taking notice this time?

    • #18
    • December 5, 2017, at 4:43 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Valiuth Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    The European mindset on the relationship between government and the common man is so alien to American sensibilities that such decisions leave us slack-jawed in shock. I always hope for freedom to prevail there, as I have in-laws and nephews in harm’s way, but I can’t say I’m truly surprised. Continental Europe really hasn’t abandoned its legacy of Roman law, where all rights and responsibilities are granted by Caesar.

    It’s still mind-boggling – the more devices we create for freedom and ease of life, the more we become enslaved. This is also too reminiscent of 70 years ago – is anyone taking notice this time?

    Sure why would we not want to be at the mercy of our devices? What is the freedom you speak of? To live in nature as animals do? Surely they are the most free, free of everything except want, pain, hunger, and instinct. All of human progress has occurred by casting off the freedom of living short brutish lives at the whims of nature and becoming servants to ourselves. But what would you trade away? Your car that makes you a slave of gasoline, and roads? Your medicine, that makes you a slave of pills? Some would say even our religions make us slaves? But would Jews trade the Tora for “freedom”, should Christians abandon Christ because devotion to him imposes rules on us?

    I think I know what you mean, about enslaved by machines. Tolkien had a great line in one of his letters about the irony of labor saving devices only serving to create more tedious and boring labor. But, by creating higher order structure through technology or civilization organization we open ourselves up to new opportunities. We expand our freedom on a new level even while decreasing it at the old levels in many ways, but you can’t have something for nothing.

    • #19
    • December 5, 2017, at 6:17 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Randy Webster Member

    EJHill (View Comment):
    Why did we fight a war, again?

    The Germans vacillate between contrite stupidity (Ve must let all ze refugees in!) and good old heavy handed worship of state power (Ve haft vays of making you cooperate…).

    Its moments like this that remind me Frau Merkel grew up in the East and her “official” memories of her time in University is often at odds with the memories of her classmates.

    I think it was Churchill who said the Germans were always at your throat or at your feet.

    • #20
    • December 5, 2017, at 7:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. genferei Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    The European mindset on the relationship between government and the common man is so alien to American sensibilities that such decisions leave us slack-jawed in shock.

    And yet precisely this proposal is the current policy of US executive agencies, and is a common amendment in US legislation.

    • #21
    • December 6, 2017, at 1:50 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    EJHill (View Comment):
    Why did we fight a war, again?

    To kick the Germans out of Poland, France, Norway, the Netherlands, and Czechoslovakia. Not to tell the Germans how to run their own country.

    If they’d refrained from invading their neighbours they would have been free to happily oppress themselves.

    • #22
    • December 6, 2017, at 9:26 AM PDT
    • Like