According to the Economist, the German Federal & State intelligence services are stuck in the past.
Rather that focusing on current threats, like a neo-naze group that murdered 10 people, they have been focused on spying on former East German radicals…including those that have been democratically elected, and hold political offices.
We saw this in the US in the 1950s-1970s, where the government spied on it’s political rivals, not actual threats.
This is the biggest long-term threat to privacy from Social Media, Cloud Computing and ubiquitous surveillance.
Like roach motels, once your data checks in, it never checks out.
Once you’ve been tagged as a threat / problem / terrorist or rabble rouser, the cops, governments and databases will treat you as such for life.
The Occupy Wall Street protestors were the most heavily photographed and video demonstration in the US. You can bet their names, photos, addresses are in hundreds of threat databases.
From The Economist:
The spooks can’t keep their eyes off the left
Feb 4th 2012 | BERLIN | from the print edition
GERMANY’S intelligence services failed to detect a gang of neo-Nazis who murdered ten people over several years. Never mind. They have a vice-president of the Bundestag in their sights.
Times are awkward for the 17 Offices for the Protection of the Constitution, as the domestic intelligence agencies are known (one at federal level and one for each of the 16 states). The “Zwickau cell” killed with impunity until two of its members shot themselves in November after fleeing a bank robbery. Perhaps that is because the spooks were busy watching the Left Party, the fourth-largest in the Bundestag. The federal office is monitoring 27 of its deputies, including Petra Pau (a Bundestag vice-president) and a member of the committee that oversees the intelligence services. The party, or affiliated groups, are also targets in most states. This constitutes “defamation of the opposition”, complained Jan Korte, a legislator on the watch list.
There are reasons to keep an eye on the Left Party. It is the direct descendant of East Germany’s communists and expanded westward by attracting disgruntled Social Democrats. Although the party espouses “democratic socialism” it harbours some groups that seem unsure about democracy. It has seats in 13 state legislatures and has helped govern, mostly pragmatically, three eastern states. The federal agency has been watching it since 1995.