The Road to the Surveillance State | By Wolfgang Bittner
An exponent of paternalistic despotism is Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder
By Wolfgang Bittner.
It can no longer be overlooked: Already with the amendment to the BKA law of 2008 and even more so in the version of June 1, 2017,(1) which allows far-reaching intrusions into the privacy of citizens, the legislature took the road to the surveillance state, and even lawyers at the time expressed the view that they would not have thought it possible years before.(2) But it still goes further: in the future, the surveillance state wants to know from every person where he is, what he is doing and what his biological condition are. Everything will be decided over the heads of the citizens and partly without parliamentary control, so that elections will actually become superfluous in the future.
An attempt to put a stop to the unlimited collection of cell phone data (names, addresses, account details, etc.) from telephone companies and Internet providers was made by the German Federal Constitutional Court in a ruling of July 17, 2020.(3) The supreme court ruled that the prerequisite was a “concrete danger” or the initial suspicion of a criminal act, but that information on inventory data was generally permissible. The court thus leaves a wide margin of discretion, so that the restrictions for practice are likely to remain very low.
A ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in July 2020 on data transfer, applicable also to the USA, is to be welcomed. The court declared personal data transfers from the EU to the U.S. illegal in principle because U.S. surveillance laws did not adequately protect EU citizens.(4) This has significant implications for service providers such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Yahoo. Although it would be naïve to believe that U.S. intelligence agencies such as the NSA and CIA will change their spying practices, the decision is a signpost.
The measures taken to combat the Corona epidemic now opened up further possibilities for control and surveillance – and this will not be the end. Experience has shown: Wherever opportunities for intervention and spying open up for intelligence services, police and other authorities, they will make use of them, regardless of the law. For example, the police in Hamburg and Augsburg have unlawfully used guest data, which was compulsorily collected for the health authorities because of the Corona contagion risk from restaurants, for investigative purposes in criminal cases.(5) The Corona app is likely to be another milestone on the highway to a “brave new techno world.”
Criticism of the government’s Corona policy was initially almost completely suppressed by the public media. Only after major demonstrations (during which the police “cracked down”(6)) did this change, which Fritz Frey, editor-in-chief of television at Südwestrundfunk and presenter of the ARD political magazine Report Mainz, justified as follows:
“So why should we turn to protesters who are loud, but just a minority.”
And he gave an answer as startling as his question:
“We do it anyway because constitutional protectors and the interior minister warned.”(7)
Warnings were issued against conspiracy theorists, left-wing enemies of the system, Kremlin propagandists, anti-Semites, Reich citizens, etc., or against AFD politicians who were also demonstrating, even if they were members of the Bundestag. This was obediently adopted by the state-supporting media, by the executive organs anyway. Self-appointed judges declared critics to be “protesters” and they were held in contempt and even allowed to be defamed.
Then, in November, numerous Internet channels of YouTube (subsidiary of Alphabet, formerly Google) were completely deleted, including KenFM, stating:
“No content is allowed on YouTube that explicitly questions the benefits of social distancing or self-isolation recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) or local health authorities and that could lead to people not adhering to these recommendations.”(8)
In a taz article, Ken Jebsen’s bank was recommended to block his account.(9) Professors Wolfgang Wodarg, Sucharit Bhakdi and Matthias Schrappe were also affected by censorship measures.(10) But all this seems to be only the beginning of a comprehensive censorship and suppression of disagreeable opinions.
In the fall of 2020, the population is divided between supporters and opponents of the Corona measures. Those who demonstrate in good conscience must be prepared for all sorts of things even after the protest – if they are identified. There were insults, physical attacks, denunciation, dismissal from the job, the apartment or the bank account, etc. The political (and religious) fanaticization of broad sections of the population has increased dramatically in recent years, and in the Corona crisis it has reached a temporary climax. The blame for this lies not least with politics and the mass media, which do not allow any views that deviate from the official line.
One exponent of paternalistic arbitrariness is Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder, who, in view of the events in Washington, warned of a “Corona RAF” and brought up further fields of activity for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz). On January 10, 2020, he said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag:
“Evil thoughts turn into evil words and at some point into evil actions. That’s why in Germany, too, we must not only improve security measures for democratic institutions, but fundamentally take a look at the sect-like movement of “Querdenken” and other comparable groups.”(10)
Söder, as well as other politicians and executors of official orders, seem to have fallen prey to a persecution hysteria that no longer knows any boundaries. To exclude statements by people belonging to the Querdenker and other critics of state ( compulsory) measures – insofar as they do not violate the law – from the public debate is a frightening sign of the decline of the democratic constitutional state. Under the pretext of health care or the fight against terrorism, an erosion of civil rights is taking place that is hardly noticed by the population due to permanent indoctrination.
Thanks to the author for the right to publish the article.
Image source: Animaflora PicsStock / shutterstock
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