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Germany Minister of Justice demands immediate response to US spying on Germany (translate.google.com)
175 points by oellegaard 1607 days ago | hide | past | web | 19 comments | favorite

It will be interesting to see if this dele ted Guardian article holds some water, then the Minister of Justice will have a long face too:


I also have to wonder how much of this is posturing for the German public. As long as they stomp their tiny feet a little, who can blame them, right? They have nothing to do with this, they're just as outraged as everybody. And then they can use all this for new, even better election promises.

Am I too cynical? I think what I am asking is, does she demand an explanation like Obama demanded Guantanamo to be closed and whistleblower laws to be strengthened?

You're not wrong. Our current ruling party has never been actually opposed to surveillance and is not really strong on privacy (to say the least). However, I think besides collecting cheap points with the German public, there is another factor behind this "stomping of tiny feet" as you call it:

Germany is somewhat of an economic powerhouse, but paradoxically radical innovation is culturally frowned-upon. This means that German tech is usually not ground-breaking but incrementally-improved-to-death (by heavyweight scientists with a lot of clout). Since there is reason to believe that a large part of all this spying is simply industrial espionage on behalf of big US companies, I believe the German government is afraid the local industry will quickly lose even more ground than it already has. Since innovation in this country doesn't move very fast, the damage would be long-lasting and potentially devastating.

My forecast is that many tech people will move away from public Cloud and host stuff themselves. Also German Cloud service provider will have an easier life getting customers... Eventhough this is private usage, in the long run it will also affect how people choose technical solutions in their day to day jobs.

Therefore I think the U.S. has an interest to seek a solution that Germany and other countries with significant economy are happy with.

It's 100% posturing for the German public.

I'll repeat a comment I just made in another thread but find to be fitting here too. For the sake of awareness:

It's funny to see all this railing up against NSA and PRISM, while tomorrow, the first of July 2013, the "Bestandsdatenauskunft" will be implemented as law in Germany. A commentator from Die Zeit newspaper tersely summed up the intentionally abstruse wording of the new rules. The law means, “that police and intelligence services will in the future be allowed to obtain extremely personal information about mobile phone users, and do so with the press of a button and without having to face any major legal hurdles”.

Crudely translated it would mean something similar to "Inventory Data Information Act". Parts of the new law are the following:

> With respect to the obligations of the access providers, ISPs with more than 100,000 customers are now required to maintain a “secure electronic interface” in order to minimise the time needed for certain agencies to retrieve information.

The innocuous sounding term, “inventory data”, should not detract from the fact that the issue involves direct access to people’s private lives. “Not only names, addresses and bank account details will be sent to the police. But also the PINs of the mobile phones, and passwords blocking e-mail inboxes and accessing services like Dropbox and dynamic IP addresses”, warned Die Zeit .

Proper english article (I don't know about this source in general, but this one is accurate): https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/04/11/germ-a11.html

Google translated german articles:

Die Zeit: http://translate.google.de/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=n&prev=_...

Der Spiegel: http://translate.google.de/translate?hl=de&sl=de&tl=en&u=htt...

Netzpolitik.org: http://translate.google.de/translate?hl=de&sl=de&tl=en&u=htt...

The debate about this is astonishing mute on its own, but compared to the NSA, PRISM and TEMPORA public outcry, the debate about the Bestandsdatenauskunft is basically non-existent at the moment.

The position of the US could be summarized as, make it easy for us to spy on everyone, make it hard for everyone else. Maximum data for us, minimal data for the rest. While other governments decry spying, naturally they have the incentive to be even more invasive.

Since I was a small child, everyone joked about the NSA listening to US citizen's phone calls. What is unusual about today is now the technology exists to save the communications data forever and organize it in a manner that produces meaningful facts.

Unfortunately we have ended up with a data cold war, where all governments are spying on everyone all of the time. It is logical for the US government to embrace encryption use by Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc, because they are able to access that data that foreign governments can not. I imagine Google's escalating implementations of user security relate directly to international spying activity.

As such, we should expect more spying by everyone, in an escalating manner. In less democratic societies, expect the result of unlimited blackmail, espionage, and murder.

The only alternative we have left for a free society are open source communication platforms that employ user-side encryption. (Sorry Silent Circle.)

> a data cold war, where all governments are spying on everyone

One of the least discussed topics in this whole cyber-security fiasco is the issue of the exploit industry: hackers and hacker collectives buy, sell, and trade software exploits between each-other and state governments.

This flies in the face of actual security in that software corporations and state governments purchase exploits in order to buy a hacker's silence (preventing the sale the same exploit to competitors) or clandestine operations. How do you think the NSA (et al) hacked into various computer systems across the world? They've got a stockpile of zero-day exploits.

This stockpile of zero-day exploits is similar to the previous cold war's stockpile of nuclear warheads: it reinforces MAD (mutually-assured destruction). We lived through a little over half a century under the fear of nuclear warfare, do we want to endure the same threat in the 21st century?

What's the fiber situation in Germany? Seems like a good opportunity for the sub-100,000 customer ISP market to light up (despite the other challenges one assumes would come with running any small/regional ISP). Is there any incentive for large or midsize ISPs to divide themselves up or does the law account for that as well?

If people cared about surveillance, they could simply vote in an anti-surveillance policitian(s). The fact that this cursory act hasn't occurred would suggest that sub-100,000 person ISPs will have zero traction.

I would love to see some of the journalists referring to the situation from about 1998 when the German foreign office realised that all their communications were routed through the US and they replaced all their infrastructure, software etc.

Not to say this is really old news but this has been going on for so long that nobody in any German service should be allowed to deny even the least bit of it.

The more interesting question still remaining will be why none of them has done anything about it for decades but fighting whistle-blowers and ruining the lives of those who care.

Is there really anything surprising with the notion that the US is spying on other country's official businesses? Did people think that the surveillance apparatus just disappeared with the Berlin wall?

I also wonder why people who are committing to official business aren't having everything encrypted anyways. I don't know how technically difficult it is to encrypt phone calls, but I can't imagine it being that hard.

Are you serious? This is not wiretapping a single individual or group. They are spying on ALL people in Germany and violate the German constitution, and if the gov of Germany is involved (which is probably the case) this gets even worse.

I wonder about all those people which think its normal/not surprising. I bet you had not the slightest idea about the scale of NSA spying. NSA even compromised EU offices and there is probably more to come. This reminds me of Cold War and allies should not be treated like that.

By the way the German federal prosecution office has now stated its collecting data about the NSA spying (http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/bundesanwaltschaft...). NSA spying gets lots of media coverage now, this might also turn the tides in the upcoming election. Good luck pirate party!

Of course it's normal, and of course "we" are not surprised y the scale of NSA spying. What did you think the NSA did if not this? Have all of their 40,000 employees listening in on Bin Laden's phone calls?

If you don't get killed in the process. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tron_%28hacker%29

Every time something is released, people like you come on HN to say, "Really, you're all so naive, were you really surprised?"

Would you mind please telling us the next big development before it happens so that we can get a jump-start on being so surprised?

Cases of industrial espionage unrelated or tenuously related to national security. Industrial espionage of the sort that the US government regularly gets bent out of shape accusing China of.

He pretends he didn't know?

As a German, tell me when there's a statement saying "We are doing this, this and that" instead of "we demand".

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