The Edward Snowden leaks and the revelation of wholesale NSA surveillance of the entire planet hit a lot of people hard, but particularly in Germany, where the public knows all too well the dangers of a surveillance state. The backlash was huge, and the German government promised major changes to their relationship with the US spies.
Looking back on the year, not much has changed, however, with officials saying the ISIS threat means Germany couldn’t possibly get rid of the “cooperation” with the NSA, as they have to track the many, many Germans who went to join ISIS.
Yet it’s not clear how good of a handle the various US spy agencies have on who is in ISIS in the first place, and what they do know almost certainly isn’t because they were tapping Angela Merkel’s cellphone.
The German public remains overwhelmingly against NSA surveillance, and against their government cooperating in it, and while some may be scared by ISIS, the Merkel government’s decision to look the other way on NSA abuses risks an eventual backlash at the polls.
It remains to be seen how the German government reacts to continued pushes for reforms, but it’s hard to imagine they can retain credibility while shrugging off the scandals that have dominated the headlines over the past year.