Happy Birthday, Edward Snowden! Stay safe and – again – thank you!

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Apologies to all English readers for posting so much in German recently. There has been a lot going on in Germany related to Edward Snowden, the NSA and Germany’s own foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) that I felt I needed to write about urgently. I hope to produce translations this week but will be traveling with work so I am a bit short on time.

Meanwhile, why not take a look at the English version of the cover story published this week by Der Spiegel which has a lot of interesting and scary information on NSA involvement in Germany. The Intercept reported on this here, and they also ran a story on the NSA’s secret cooperation with “more foreign governments than previously known”. Germany features several times in this.

Many of the PDFs Der Spiegel has made available for download make for interesting reads – not just for Germans. The legal implications of what is going on in Germany (changing laws for example to facilitate data sharing) can stand as a warning for non-Germans as well – if surveillance isn’t reined in properly or laws aren’t adjusted to advanced technical capabilities, the potential threat to civil rights and liberties that result from these capabilities is truly formidable.

Further, the Guardian has published an article on how the British GCHQ justifies its data-gathering from social media – the justification that such communications are “external” (or foreign) is of course ludicrous: someone from Birmingham chatting to someone in London via Facebook, especially if both of them are British citizens, should still be protected under British domestic communication laws, even if the communication takes place on a server located in the US.

Also – hence my rant in German the other day – Edward Snowden has turned down a request from the German NSA investigative committee to meet with representatives for an “informal chat” in Moscow. I am not furious with Snowden, I think he made a very sensible decision there. I am furious with those members of the NSA committee who have been dragging this thing out, not to mention the German government for employing ridiculous tactics to keep Snowden out of Germany – obviously a real investigation is not what they want which should make everyone wonder what the BND is really up to. The refusal to hear Snowden also says something deeply concerning about the German government efforts (or lack thereof) to protect the basic rights of millions of Germans.

The one good piece of news this week: on Thursday, the US House of Representatives

By a vote of 293 to 123…voted to ban the National Security Agency from conducting “backdoor searches” on United States citizens, a process that allowed the intelligence community to collect data on Americans without a warrant as long as the official target was a foreigner.

Finally, it’s Edward Snowden’s 31st Birthday today, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EDWARD SNOWDEN! We will continue to stand with you and campaign for you and hopefully one day some of it will help. Meanwhile, stay safe and thank you again for your courage and commitment.

 

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