German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected the growing comparisons between the NSA’s surveillance apparatus and that of the former East German state, the Stasi, saying it was unfair to compare the two since the NSA is from a “democratic” state.
Merkel went on to defend the concept of surveillance in general as “essential” for a democratic state, insisting that security needs will mean that spying on citizens will always be a vital aspect of any democratic state.
The chancellor seems to be treading into dangerous water with that position, as past examples of surveillance state abuses have left Germans particularly sensitive about giving up their privacy, and even if Merkel doesn’t appreciate the Stasi parallel, many Germans do.
Moreover as a point of fact the NSA’s PRISM and other schemes are at least as far-reaching as anything attempted by the Stasi, and technological developments have allowed them to spread it world-wide to boot.
There seems to be little doubt that German voters broadly oppose the NSA surveillance, and Merkel’s refusal to address it in any serious way is likely to hurt her ruling Christian Democratic Union party in the September elections.
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