The Snowden-Affair: Freedom vs Security – A False Alternative!(Peter Decker, GegenStandpunkt)


On occasion of the Snowden affair: freedom
vs security – a false alternative ! How civil liberty and the state’s
control regime are really connected Lecture & Discussion 24.10.2013, Nuremberg
Dr Peter Decker Edward Snowden… …really has some nerve. He has… …indeed… …complained about
his own profession. Has given up his career. Has given up his homeland. And who knows: Maybe he is
even putting his life at risk. To file a protest: His former activities and those practiced
by the agency he has worked for… …are simply unacceptable to him. He discloses… …delivers… …the biggest disclosure in the history
of the American secret services. Evidently endless material,… …which documents that… …and how… …the American secret services, especially
the domestic intelligence service NSA… …National Security Agency… …among others… …and, by the way, also secret
services of allied democracies, …not least the BND
and the Federal Office for the Protection of
the Constitution (BfV) …how comprehensively they record
and analyse global communication in its entirety. Obviously, not only the communication
of the American people. But also, if not mostly, foreign… … telephone calls, emails… …conversations. One hears for example that the EU
has been listened into in New York. All the dynamic data of citizens,… …their account transactions. So that, if so desired and… …deemed necessary,… … it is possible to draw a pretty
comprehensive picture of what people get up to… …and… …think… … and possibly intend to do. Now why does he disclose all that? And pays the price that
really comes with it? He is shocked by the fact… … that his state… … a democracy,… … which he never believed
it was capable of,… …treats its citizens… … as to be monitored… …sources of danger for it. In other words: It reveals
itself as a sovereignty. Something which he really
didn’t expect of his state. I’d like to give you a
little read of his views… … as they made their way through the
world press via the British Guardian. He says. That is Snowden says: The National Security Agency… …has built up an infrastructure… …that makes it possible to
listen into almost everything. This means that almost all interpersonal
communication is automatically recorded. And it doesn’t even
have to be intended. If I wanted to look into your
emails or your wife’s telephone,… … I could simply do it. I can access your emails,
your passwords, your telephone connections,
your credit cards. I do not want to live in a society
that does things like that. I do not want to live in a
world in which everything I do or say, everyone I talk to,… …every expression of creativity,
love or friendship is recorded. I do not want to support it. And I’m not willing to accept it. Thus, Snowden witnesses how… …the difference… …between dictatorship and
democracy becomes blurred. A difference which he
obviously finds important. He sees the horror vision of the
total surveillance state come true. This he deems irreconcilable… …with his
constitutionally-protected freedom. And with the inviolability of
the private sphere, to which… … he believes he has a right. If people… … can no longer maintain contacts,
talk or write without being observed,… If the authorities are
always listening in… …or are at least able to
do so, if they wish,… …it means that,… … according to
him,… … they are no longer free. In his view, freedom is a state… …in which the government
leaves its people be. In which the government
keeps its nose out. Freedom, he believes, is a space
free of government interference… …in which individuals are
alone with their will. This freedom… …in keeping with human
nature, so his view,… …man’s birthright,… …is what he thinks himself defrauded of. So far I’ve been talking on this
matter in a non-judgemental manner. I illustrate the point of view. In a moment, I shall illustrate
the opposite point of view as held by the state. Then, and only then, shall I
allow myself to reflect upon… …who is right, who means what and who’s
got it wrong and in what way etc.. So far for Snowden and
his point of view… …that, if the horror visions of
Orwell’s 1984 turn into reality, … …if the total surveillance
state comes into being,… …it would mean the end for freedom. Now, here comes the
reaction he has provoked. Hereby, I don’t mean the
practical reaction, which encompasses a
threat to his life, … …but the theoretical reaction, … …the statements made by the
authorities in opposition to Snowden. Obama, the president against whom the
criticism was launched, states the following: Freedom needs security. Without security,
freedom is worthless. He utters the following
beautiful sentence: You cannot have 100% security
and also have 100% freedom. Our German Interior Minister
immediately agrees with that theory. He says the state had a duty to
protect the’ super civil right security’. A civil right that doesn’t figure
in any civil rights catalogue. He has now invented the super
civil right security… …that is far more important
than all the other civil rights. To that purpose,… …which Obama’s 100 per cent
calculations make pretty clear,… …it is necessary to accept a few
losses with regards to freedom. For security which the
citizen apparently needs… …a certain degree of
surveillance has to be accepted. The argument… …that the government not only owes freedom
to its citizens but also security… This argument is made
plausible by the statesmen via the hint at
existing dangers. Especially the Islamic terror… …is the big thing. They say that it is
thanks to surveillance… … that they’ve already managed to
prevent a whole array of attacks. The thought, as understood
by most people, is this: This is protecting your lives citizens.
How can you be against it? In this context, I’d like to talk
a little about Islamic terror… … and the idea that the government has
to protect its citizens against it. What is it then, that the state
protects its citizens against? If we want to take
that claim seriously. Well, it protects them
against a danger the state has exposed them to
in the first place. Where do the Al-Qaida type
critics of the West come from? Well, from states that in one way or another
feel oppressed by the big Western powers. By America especially. That Germany is also targeted
is down to the fact that… …it takes part in the military
domination of the world… …and that its troops are
positioned in Afghanistan. Rightly or wrongly:
fact is that the native countries of those
terrorists feel oppressed. And above all,… …it doesn’t really matter
with what kind of programme… …those Al-Qaida guys react to the
Western domination of the globe. They are reactions to the Western
domination and utilisation of the globe. And Al-Qaida… …holds against the West that the
bad condition their countries are in… …has somehow to do with the
exploitation and military domination… …of their world regions by the West. In short: If citizens in the centres of capitalism:
Germany, Europe, England, Spain… …are threatened by
Islamic terrorists… …then it’s because,
all over the world,… …their states, all over the world,
operate as controlling powers… …and create enemies for themselves. So if the state protects the
people against something,… …then it’s against enemies
that are of its own making. Point number two: What does it actually mean
to protect the citizens? Those Al-Qaida… … terrorists… …who commit terror attacks. Which
is undeniable. People do die. Those terrorists… …are defending themselves against the
Western domination of the world… …largely from a
position of impotence. They are fighting a compensatory war.
For the simple reason that they are… … in no position
to fight a real one. They are nowhere able to attack the real
power sources of the Western states. Even the attacks of the famous
office buildings in New York… …were no attacks on
the real centres of US power but merely on
its symbolical ones. And if, for example in
Spain, Madrid, Al-Qaida launch attacks
on suburban trains,… …then, to those terrorists, … … the people they hit are nothing more than
mere representatives of the enemy state. And soft targets, since they
have no means of getting to the hard ones. Again,.. …it is the Western states that expose
their citizens to this kind of danger. Namely by creating enemies for
themselves, which in their turn also attack citizens as mere
representatives of the state. And if states prevent attacks,.. …they thereby protect, first and
foremost, their own inviolability. And, in this instance, the citizens are
simply lucky to fall under the protection… …of the state as objects
of its inviolability. So, when attention is
drawn to Islamic terror, it is nothing else but
the following demand: People, please realise that
Al-Qaida poses a threat to you. In other words: Come and
join our front against them. What I wanted to show via
this example is that… …the state does not simply
protect the lives of its citizens. It is his own inviolability
that it protects. Against enemies that
it creates for itself. Whereby the citizens, for both sides,
are representatives of the state. It is essentially always
the same. When the state claims to
protects its citizens,… …what does it actually
protects them from? Apart from Al-Qaida, which we dealt with. It protects its citizens
from criminals. And what actually is it that
the state protects them from? Well, from those who break its laws. If we want to be precise,
we have to recognise… …that, here too, the state does not
protect its citizens but its law. Now, if we want to be brutal
about it, we can say this: The state, in the case of
the European governments, …offers no protection to those drowning
in the Mediterranean Sea by the thousands. No, they are not protected. And why? Well, for the simple reason that
their immigration is illegal. Protection is for the
law, not for the people. It also works the other way round. Actually, before I go into that,… …I’d like to give a few more
examples to bring the point across. The state also doesn’t
protect its citizens from… …the loss of their
retirement provisions… …through bad speculations of the
banks they intrusted with their money. A total catastrophe to the
person affected by it. As for the state… …it is merely a question of
whether or not the bank… … has violated regulations. If it hasn’t and only speculated badly,… …there’s no protection against it. The state doesn’t protect people
against dismissals either. Which is also a social
catastrophe to whoever it hits. But employment and dismissal
is an employer’s good right. As it is legal there is
no protection against it. Does the state protect
people from thieves? Even in that case, one has to say: Well,… …strictly speaking, the state, yet
again, merely protects its law… …and not the citizen. It usually works like this: If somebody becomes a
victim of theft… …and subsequently reports it to the Police,… …an investigation is launched and
if caught, the thief gets punished. And in most cases, the poor
devils that commit theft… …by that time have nothing… …that can be taken from them. To the effect… …that the citizen
affected by the theft,… …gains absolutely nothing
from the punishment of the thief. Nothing at all, especially no
repair of the damages incurred. Only the damages that the
law incurred are repaired. Through the punishment. So strictly speaking, when,… …Obama says freedom needs
security, we need to protect,… …we are protecting our citizens,… …one has to say,… …that, in reality, the state
does not protect its citizens… …but only its law. It protects its own self. It seeks to make its
regulations valid. And the citizens are simply lucky
if they fall under those and… …the state’s self-
protection includes them. And more often than not, the
state’s self-protection… … just doesn’t include the citizens. Like in the case of… …the theft. What I want to say here
is also illustrated… …by the fact… …that the need for security… …which the state protects,… ..namely its own,… …is always much more fundamental
and comprehensive… …than all examples
of dangers… …which those in charge… …could, if necessary, enumerate. The state does not wait,
with its protection,… …for a particular danger
to arise somewhere. Just as it doesn’t wait… …for an external enemy before
it puts an army in place. The same thing applies here. The state has its armed forces,
needs its armed forces and… …the question of whether it is actually
threatened by an external enemy… …is not posed until much later. It is clear that, first and
foremost, an army is needed. And maybe then, the question of how large
it has to be in view of its enemies… …becomes relevant. But that the state needs an
army in the first place,.. …is not a question of its enemies
but a question of its nature. It is, in essence, a
monopoly of force… …that maintains its existence… …by its capacity to deter
other possible forces. The same applies with
regards to surveillance. In reality, the state, with its
surveillance technology,… … does not react to threats. It, on the contrary, preempts them. It renders security for itself. In total independence of any kind of threat,
whatever its degree or origin may be. It insists upon… …comprehensive control
and, in any case, upon its controllability of
everything and everybody. Since a possible challenge… …to the monopoly of force
could always present itself. The object of protection,… ..which, Obama claims
to be the citizen,… This object of protection… …is, first and foremost, the the
sovereignty of the state itself. The unempeachability of
the monopoly of force. The ability of the sovereignty… … to everywhere impose and safeguard
obedience for its own laws. And the guarantee that the
authority in place… …has its society under control. To the monopoly of force, the first
object of protection is itself. And it is indeed… …the first condition… …that the political authority,… … with its rules and
regulations, governs society. Maintains its order. And subjects all
citizens to this principle. Everything that the state… …establishes, creates,
issues, enforces… …presupposes the inviolability
of the monopoly of force. And that includes the freedom it grants. Maybe it is worth… …to briefly recall
that this is nothing new. The political authority has
always supervised society. Firstly and simply in the form of
judicature and justice system. They keep an eye on whether the citizens
obey the law in their conduct. Whether they act within the
framework of what is permitted. In this context,… … the judicature is
an interesting matter. It differs from the total
surveillance in one crucial point. But now for we want to bear in
mind that the judicature is a… …curious thing… …since it expects both the
citizens’ obedience to the law… …and its breach via them. On the one hand, the obedience
to the law in the sense that… …one expects the citizens
to obey the law on the whole. On the other hand,… …the entire criminal
code that exists… …already anticipates all violations. They very well know all the
mistakes the citizens could make. And are dead sure to make. But In the field of justice,
the state is relatively lax. Investigations… …are generally not launched
until after the offense. A charge has to be filed. Or it has to become known to
the public prosecutor that… …that somewhere laws
have been violated. Then, inspectors are sent out… …and do what ‘Columbo’ has
been showing since 1971. However,… …precisely because… …the fact of being tied into… … permissions and prohibitions…. …the limitation of the
citizens’ framework for action… …always brings about… …political discontentment as well. A will to rectify… …regarding the
organization of the state… …right up to… …anti-constitutional
activities or revolutions. Therefore,… …in every free state,
there exists,… … apart from judicature
and justice,… …something else too: domestic intelligence services,… …organs of state security… …and of course the BfV in Germany. With those organs… …every democracy actually proves… …that it isn’t willing… …to act as the executive organ of an
autonomously developed will of its citizens. But that, on the contrary,
the authority… …sets the framework in which the
citizen’s will is allowed to be critical. It isn’t whatever the democratic
process of opinion formation… …brings about in terms
of political options… …that the democratic state
leadership acts upon. But instead… …,with its domestic
intelligence service,… … it dictates the direction the process of
will formation is allowed to take or not. And in this field,… …it isn’t that… …the security organs only
become active after the deed. But in this case, it has
always been commonplace: They act in advance. What matters here is not the
punishment of violation but instead… …to prevent and to put a halt to… …dangerous opposition, to really
antagonistic political tendencies. To not let them come into
being in the first place,… …which is different from demanding
the price after the deed. This is why telephone surveillance does
not only exists since the internet. Just as political assemblies are not only
under surveillance since the internet. Those moments of state security
are as old as the state itself. There is nothing new about it. New are… …two things: Firstly,.. …that with the internet and the
electronic communication in general… …a new social space
has come into being,… Regarding which, the question of… …how the state fits
in there, has yet to be answered. Can it look inside? Is it allowed to look inside? The citizens settle a lot
of their affairs via this medium, including
those of criminal nature. Online criminality isn’t
such a bad thing. There is quite a bit of it. It’s a good way to make money. Those new forms of communication… …really are new inventions and for
the state organs, which always… …have kept an eye on society,… …the question of how to supervise this
sphere naturally poses itself. Well, the answer is simple. That which those… …idealists of the
internet have said… …,namely that everything is
becoming super-transparent,… …in other words, sovereignty
ceases to exist because of the publication of everything
by for example Wikileaks. By the fact that the states
can no longer clique… …the politicians can
no longer clique. Thereby the state is screened to such an extend that it cannot
possibly take action against the citizens. This whole idea… …that the new net is the means to a
much more comprehensive democracy… …seems to have turned into the
opposite, in the sense that… …now the citizen has become
super-transparent to the state. Whatever he does… … is traceable down to the smallest
detail and if properly retained… …can also be traced
very well in reverse. What has in fact changed… …with the internet… …is not the standpoint… …that the authorities do indeed supervise
society and keep it under control… …but what has changed
with the internet is… …the ease and cost-effectiveness with
which it can be carried out nowadays. It is quite interesting
to note that… …the GDR is said to have needed 10% of its
population to spy upon the remaining 90%. Of the NSA one hears that
fifty thousand collaborators don’t just spy on 350
million Americans… …but more or less on
six billion people. And yes, this is cheap. Though, to begin with, the new gigabyte
storage devices do cost huge sums and… …so does the technology used in order
to automatically go through those data. And to search them according to
previously typed in keywords. But in the scheme of things, it
is incredibly cost-effective. What is therefore also new is the
comprehensiveness of the overview. The GDR has had to spy
on its citizens,… …which , by the way, is done by
every state that feels threatened. It’s just that the GDR felt more
threatened than other states. The GDR has spied upon its citizens and
what the Stasi people knew about them… …is a mere fraction of what the NSA
is able to know about humanity… …and does know wherever
it wants to know. And here comes my big assertion. Which I have already
been working towards… … by recalling that it isn’t really
that new and different than normal. This is point number three. The first one was about
what Snowden thinks, the second one about the
reaction he is causing. And how this reaction
shows what states indeed do to keep their
societies under control. Thirdly: All of it is not in any way
a contradiction to freedom. It merely shows what
freedom actually is. Namely a license given
by the authorities. The idea that freedom is when the
state is not part of the equation,… …freedom is where
the state is absent,… …is a huge misconception. Freedom is a political definition
of the citizen’s will… …that the state power proposes. Freedom is an authorisation
from above… …to make use of one’s will… …within the concessions and prohibitions… …that are imposed upon it. Freedom is not passed in any
other way in the first place… …that it always comes with… …with the conditions
and restrictions… …that are part of its excercise. There exists, in this respect, a big confusion
that is held in high esteem by everyone: Freedom as understood
by the citizen… …, of which Snowden is the
more radical representative,… …freedom as Snowden views it… …is understood by the citizen as though
it were an integral part of himself. …a sort of pre-governmental
human trait. The idea that my freedom
does not need a state. It is thought of as an
anthropological characteristic that is part of the human being
because his will is free. But freedom in society,
political freedom… …is not the same as free will. Instead, it is the rule that
dictates how it should be excercised. Thus, this also means that freedom
is not the opposite of sovereignty. Political freedom, on the
contrary, is a particular way… …in which people exist
under governance. Political freedom is a … …concession to the citizens and
obligation of the citizens by the state. And of course, this
concession is not limitless. This becomes particularly clear when one
thinks about the material aspect of freedom. The purely ideational freedom being
nothing but nonsense in any case. In short, as long as
one is alone in bed… …no demands are made upon one. However, as soon as one
enters the social sphere… …freedom means a
relation to other people. To where does my will count,
to where does yours count? If this is the question… …then it clear that the
material side, the real,.. …tangible side of freedom… …is private property. It is the sphere in which I… …freely dispose of something. Hegel puts it beautifully
when he says that freedom needs an outer
sphere of its reality. Or something similar. And what is the outer
sphere of freedom: It is the free disposal of that
which belongs to me. And it quickly becomes
clear that ends where that which belongs to
somebody else begins. Within the context of this freedom… …is decreed that lots of
private owners interact. And that, indeed, they… …each one of them with
his property try to take advantage of the other
when they exchange,…. …whether they exchange
work capacity against salary or product against
product is unimportant. When private owners
come into contact, then this means competition
is on the agenda. And all of it… I’m merely recalling the contents in
this context for the following purpose. This situation is simply untenable
without violence. Without a violence-induced rule about how far
you are allowed to go and where it ends. So freedom, real freedom… …the one that exists and
not the imaginary one when a person is alone
but actual freedom… …is a politically decreed
relation of will between people. Your will applies… …up to the point where
another will applies. And it is the state that determines
where the border between the two lies. With its laws and its
property protection. This type of freedom,
not only is it not abolished through the
surveillance of society… …but, on the contrary, it
needs it and lives through it. It is indeed a reliable and
maintainable way of organising life within society. A truly maintainable, unavoidable
constraint for all parties involved. That is only if and only as long… …as the monopoly of
violence is really able to maintain its
sovereignty over society. This is why the state,… …still on the topic of freedom,… …reassures its citizens… …,quite easily
because it is true,… …that it does not wish
to abolish freedom. And it’s absolutely true. They
really do not want to abolish it. This freedom is precisely organised… …via the submission of the entire
society under the command… …of the constitutional state. And by making sure that everyone operates
within the framework of what is permissible. In this sense… …the worried citizens
are furnished…. …,by for example our
Interior Minister,… …the following information: Not to worry. We really don’t want
to probe into your private life. The state is not interested in the love
whispering of Tom, Dick and Harry. Which is probably true. But let’s not forget the
other side of the coin. Firstly, that it really is nothing but
love whispering has to be ascertained. Right? If that is so, the state
does not care but to make sure that it
really is just that,… … literally everything gets screened. After all… …engagements for
unauthorised activities also take place in the private
sphere, where else? And then comes the Interior Minister and says: Don’t worry we don’t
investigate everyone. As if the government… … was making a concession here.
As if it was saying: we exercise
restraint in some place. The truth is that… …they do indeed make
sure that it is just love whispering which truly
doesn’t interest them. If the government agencies
really wanted to follow up every marital row, they’d be busy
till the cows come home. Not just via their machines
which really are doing it. …till a keyword comes up. But with a bunch of guys that sit down
with headphones and pay attention. Thus, in a really stupid manner,… …the purposeful execution of
the all round surveillance…. …is presented as some
sort of self-restriction. Fact is that no such
restraints are practiced. The state simply isn’t interested
in what it isn’t interested in. Now comes point number four. I just want to recall the first one. To Swnoden the surveillance
which he is appalled by… …means the end of freedom and the governments
say that it is for its protection. And in a truly ironic sense,
they are absolutely right when they say that it is
the protection of freedom. As I have already mentioned: Freedom essentially
is a relation of violence. And this relation of violence needs protection. It only exists for as
long as the sovereignty of this surveillance
apparatus is guaranteed. Therefore, it is no lie… …but instead a cynical truth that freedom
is protected through surveillance. In another sense… …than people think when they
say it is about its protection. Actually, in a much more correct, more objective sense… …is it that freedom is
protected via surveillance. Here comes point number four. Snowden’s fight for freedom
against the surveillance state… …is a necessary misunderstanding. Well,… …another mysterious concept. Let’s recapitulate. Swnoden thinks that
freedom is abolished when in fact it merely reveals
itself as what it is. Snowden is mistaken. So far so good. Shall we now leave it
at that by saying: Well he is just an idiot,
who made a mistake? And who sacrifices his… … entire civil existence… …for his mistake. Is it that he is merely wrong… …and freedom is not threatened,
Big Brother in reality a friend? And… …Snowden simply doesn’t get it. On the one hand yes. On the other hand… …his misunderstanding
is really quite common. He is not entirely alone in his
belief that surveillance… …destroys freedom. And if we take a look
at the state itself… …we have to admit that… …the state itself contributes
to that misunderstanding or… …takes its hat off to it.
Supports it. The mere fact… …that those in power both
in Germany and the US… … somehow seek to keep the
all round surveillance a secret,… …gives in a way the impression that
they too view it as a contradiction to freedom. Of course it isn’t an unknown fact.
People do know that there is a domestic
intelligence service. But… …nevertheless,… …it isn’t rubbed into people’s faces. And… …punishes, on the other hand,
those who make it public. And how! So the state… …sort of… …pays tribute to the
misunderstanding. Promotes it itself. It also promotes it
by not justifying … …its snooping… …with its need for sovereignty… …but instead with the… …mission to safeguard the
security of the citizens. Here too… …does government power
present itself… …as the citizen’s servent. Just as the government
power says that it has… …to serve the freedom of the citizens, it
also says that it has to serve security. There too,… …the state is willing
to say: Freedom is pre-governmental right that
it owes to the citizen. Not that freedom is a… …a mode of interaction that is
dictated by the state to the citizen. And when it seeks to appease
them by saying their private life is not intended
for investigation… …then this too is a point
where the state acts as if… …it owed the citizen some
self-restraint with its surveillance. As if the state wasn’t allowed
everything with regards to surveillance. Though it is true that with the internet
stuff they really are entering… … a whole new territory, both
technically and in some way also legally. And it is not even clear whether the state
in form of its constitutional court… …will permit itself
everything and even wants to… … in terms of what it already practices
in form of its security organs. It is not all set in stone. There is still a need to
make some legal decisions on things that have not
been decided upon. In all of it,… …the state reinforces… …Snowden’s error. And what does it thereby reinforce? Well, something
pretty indispensable. Namely a necessary misunderstanding
as I called it earlier. This misunderstanding is
quite indispensable… …since freedom is simply
inseparable from… …the idea that one doesn’t
consider it to be an order. Is this clear? A person cannot feel free and
say: my freedom has been ordered. An integral part of
freedom is the idea… …that it is a sort of
pre-governmental legal position that naturally
belongs to me… …and which the state owes to me. And not which the state gives to me. Or demands of me. One is not to be had
without the other. This is why the idea of freedom… …needs the erroneous
inversion of the relationship between the
state and its citizens. The inversion of this relationship
in the following sense: It isn’t the state… … that defines the citizen, who has to act
within the boundaries set by the former. Instead,… …the citizen is a free
being who the state has to comply with and whose
freedom it has to protect. This inversion… …simply is part and
parcel of freedom. Whoever ceases to believe in it,… …who says: I’ve now
got it; freedom is a state-ordered mode of
interaction between people,… …is half-way into
not wanting anymore. At least, he is provoked to ask
for the purpose of this decree. To ask: Then what is it good for? This, at least, sets in
immediately, if one realises that freedom is a mode of
interaction by decree. A manner in which
people are to interact. Namely to respect each other
as carriers of a free will… … but only insofar that the will
of the other has legal status. And one doesn’t have to respect anybody as
long as one is legally entitled not to. Whoever has correctly understood
this is close to criticising it. Is provoked to ask why
it is then decreed. To be a free citizen simply implies the
idea that freedom is part of one… …and that the state has
a duty to safeguard it. And not…. …that the state … … has ordered this freedom to the citizen. Only this necessary inversion… …gives rise to the contradiction
that constitutes Snowden’s problem. Only this necessary inversion renders
possible the perception of a contradiction… …between government power… …with all its necessary
means of self-assertion …and the freedom of the citizens. It is only because of this necessary
error in the thinking … …of free people… …that the impression… …the all-mighty state… …destroys freedom,… … is created. If people knew what freedom was they
would not be bewildered by surveillance. So, I’m nearly coming to the end. I now have to… … slightly weaken my radical idea again. Ultimately, the whole civil world knows
that Edward Snowden is pretty radical …while they themselves
aren’t quite that radical. All the papers that have
written on that topic… …are citing him,… …and, which cannot be denied, are partly
celebrating him as a freedom fighter. However, they do not
completely embrace the idea that state surveillance
destroys freedom. Upon reading those newspapers
that propagate this material… …one rather comes
across the view… …that over-surveillance
is the problem. Through secret services
that have gone wild. You see,… …when saying it out loud like
this, it is easy to detect: It is a critique of the degree. It isn’t the quality that is being
criticised but the quantity. The excess. The critique of the excess
is already full of recognition… …of surveillance. There is a lot of acceptance
of what is quite necessary. But not of the extend to
which it is practiced. Then come the… … freedom fighters of the fuilleton
in our newspapers like the Faz, which for a change is
fanatically freedom-oriented here. The others anyhow. They come… …and say… …that it is unworthy
of a democracy… …to constantly treat the in their
majority innocent citizens as if they… …presented a security
risk to society. Not to be overlooked here
is the view that they should only be exempt
from surveillance… … under condition
that they are innocent. In short,… What is expressed here is that… …the… … citizens do not deserve… …such a strict all round surveillance
of their communication and their lives. For the simple reason that
they do not warrant it. The extended version of this
argument goes as follows: And if anything,… …if the citizens are to trust the state,
the latter has to also trust the citizens. If however, it doesn’t do that… …and instead shows its
mistrust quite openly,… …then it is likely to break
the trust they put in it. So that the newspapers come to
demonstrate to the state… … how counterproductive its methods of
surveillance are. They say: You are gaining the opposite of what you want. You are undermining the trust regular
citizens have in their community. In a democracy, citizens do not
deserve an all round surveillance. What I wanted to argue is… …how much condition is
contained within this protest. It’s simply because they are loyal that
they do not deserve to be mistrusted. The other side of things
is also worth noticing. Namely, how humble and pathetic the
following expression of discontent is: Not even in the private sphere
does the state look away! Well, those who complain by saying: yes, but as for the
private sphere, it was promised that state keeps out of it… What is the actual complaint
of those who speak like that? Of those who say: At least then,.. …when all civil duties
have been fulfilled,… …when, alone with
one’s hard-earned cash, one celebrates the end
of the working day,… …at least then – …in other words,.. … when there isn’t much
left to do wrong – …an exemption from
surveillance seems appropriate. Thereby is already
admitted that, of course, business life is under
total surveillance. That the activities of the teachers
and their pupils in school,… …those of road traffic
participants… …are constantly
being surveyed. Which is clear, since those
are the cases of conflict where the state keeps
its watch on the law. But at least when absolutely
nothing is a stake… …the state could have
the decency to look away. Can you see, well, how humble… …how submissive this
will to freedom really is? After all, this type of freedom
also exists in pretty much every dictatorship, to be left alone
when all duties are fulfilled. And here comes the argument that… …when all duties are fulfilled… … and all one does is celebrate
the end of the working day …then at least ought the state look away. And what is the answer to it? Well, once the state has
reassured itself that it really is just that,
it does indeed look away. Ha-ha! That’s exactly how it works. And finally the last among them. The last crew of this kind are those,… …who, aren’t much
different from those complaining about the
surveillance of innocents. From those who say that innocent
citizens do not deserve such mistrust… …and thereby express
the standpoint… …that, if they were guilty, it would
of course be entirely different. But innocents do not
deserve such mistrust. Now come those innocent citizens and simply
decide to turn the tables by saying: I don’t mind the state listening in. I have nothing to hide. And therefore have
nothing to fear either. And they aren’t just a
small number of people. With regards to all of this… …the following question has
always preoccupied the public: What on earth is wrong
with those Germans… …when in 1980 I think it
was, during a census,… …the state wanted to know
about totally irrelevant things and also under
complete anonymity. Things like: how many people live in the
household, is there running water, … or does it have to be
fetched from the well,… …whether the loo is on the
stairway or at floor level? All sort of stuff. Hm,… …back then, there was a huge riot by… …the then young
people and moreover… …by the entire population against
the nosy state and its census. And now, after revelations
that the state… …is spying on people
in a way that… …, in view of its sheer magnitude,
bears no resemblance to the census,… …the indignity about
it is pretty confined. And why? Because a lot of people say: It’s
okay for the state to have a look. With regards to my life, the state
is welcome to read and listen in. It won’t find a thing. Personally, I do not feel
threatened by surveillance. This might very well be true, but… …what exactly do people thereby express? Whoever talks like that… …admits… …that freedom means acting
within prohibitions and concessions. And he admits that he knows
that freedom ends… … if he no longer abides by those
prohibitions and concessions. And he says that, to him,… …this is by no means a restriction
since he does abide by everything. In short, whoever says: As for my private life, everyone is welcome
to listen in. I have nothing to hide;… …thus reveals that
freedom is subordination. Obedience before
prohibitions and concessions. In their eyes,… …this does not constitute
much of a contradiction… …to the fact that they
feel free at the same time. Though in this case it
almost means: one is free as long as one
is not literally bound in chains. Someone who says: I have nothing to hide,… …my freedom is not
threatened by surveillance;… …says indeed: I am free as long as and
precisely because I adhere to the rules. I’m actually done now. I have… …purposefully left out everything… …that, in the last three months,
has totally eclipsed this topic. Namely… …, that people are no longer angry about the state’s
surveillance of its citizens. That there’s been a shift
in direction of the topic The Yankees spy on us Germans. You see, it has turned into
a totally different topic. At first, we have Snowden who
presented it as an internal issue… …when he says he doesn’t want to live in
a society that listens into everything. The first indignations, that have
always connected everything… … to the horror vision of
the total surveillance state. Their topic was the
state/citizen relationship. The question of whether
freedom is being destroyed. In the meantime, it is
the question of whether the German sovereignty
is being destroyed. Why? Because the Yanks
have it all under control. And today, the chancellor got angry because
her mobile phone is being listened into. The discourse has totally
changed , so that we’re now on the topic of
espionage among allies. We could talk about that too but, to me, it
was far more important and interesting… …to deliver a
clarification about freedom… …that rests upon surveillance. And now is the time to question
everything I’ve said. To maintain the contrary. You mentioned that Obama
had instigated all of it. But to my knowledge this
all goes back quite a bit. Did Obama simply take
over or did he take it to the next level? As far as I know, the whole thing
certainly goes back quite a bit. The sole reason for
bringing up Obama… … was the fact that he is the current
president and said the sentence: 100% freedom and 100% security
are impossible to have. In other words, he has,… They somehow have to
comment on those revelations… And they did.
They’ve said: Of course, we survey
the entire world… …and it is necessary… …since it is our duty to
protect the citizens… …from… …Islamic terror and other dangers. He has basically taken
position for those ideas. Other than that, it
is correct to say… …that the principle is not new. Yes, with the advent of the
internet, a new technology came about, calling of course for a
new surveillance technology. And the technology cannot
be older than the internet. Of course not. Therefore, it is not difficult to
understand that, over the last few years… …it has increasingly
been perfected. In the USA, especially after the attacks
on the World Trade Center in… …2003 ? … …1 ? … … 1 !! … Yes, and in 2003 we’ve
already got the war in Irak. …so in the USA, especially after those
attacks, it has been further developed but… …it had probably also continued
under Obama’s administration. And the respective… … latest stage of development can probably
be attributed to the new president. Who, by now, isn’t that new any more. In short, I didn’t place a lot of
importance on saying: Obama is the culprit. Obama is now the
representative of it. And he is very likely to
have played a role in the expansion of this
system of surveillance. Or to be more precise:
his administration. Well, I’d like to
encourage everyone… …to raise concerns, to object or to
ad to what has been said. Also,… …whenever a lecture is over
the topic can be expanded on. Sofar, I have tried to keep it together in
order for the listener not to loose track. But now, everything of interest in
this context can be brought up. This is no problem. Now that we don’t
have to stick to the narrow confines. However, I also understand
that, in the first instant, such lectures
leave the listener… …somewhat floored and now that
he’s been told everything,… …he doesn’t quite know
what to argue against it. This too is… …perfectly OK. I got a question here. Can you comment on the state’s positive
interest not to want know everything. Since you said that what
they ultimately want to know hasn’t quite been decided upon.
Whether all of it… …is approvable or whether the state
wants to grant itself the permission. You then continued by saying
that the state had an interest to maintain this misunderstanding,
to reinforce it. In materialistically positive terms,… …what does the state
gain from not knowing everything about what its
citizens are freely doing? I suppose the intention here is not just
the creation of this misunderstanding. Well, the main plot
of this story is this: Hm,… …a sovereignty sets its
priorities in view of what it wants to keep an eye on and
with how much effort. And one really has to say that… …,in former times, a lot more information
used to slip through the state’s net. Not because it would have had a
totally different standpoint… …but because the effort that would
have been necessary in order to… …control as much as it
is now able to thanks to the availlability of
electronic communication,… …would not have been worth it. And, in this sense,… …I believe when thinking
of the material side and not of the ideologically
canvassing one,… …in exactly this sense,… …they are operating here too and
say they are going through… …they have large sophisticated
search engines… …with which, according to the principle
of computer search, they collect … …data, of which every
piece of data on its own… …is not particularly significant. For example, somebody, one day was on a
some square and has been filmed… …and been recognised by a scanner. Somebody, somewhere has made a transfer
and thereby left traces. Has drawn money. Etc.. However, they have
at their disposition technology that allows
them to combine data… …,that isolated from one another,
are not very significant… …or even… …give rise to any
kind of suspicion,… …in a way that suspicious
patterns of are created. And with this automated procedure,… …they go through the entire stream
of data generated in this way. And only yesterday, we’ve heard
that in one month seventy… …million, seven hundred million(?)
conversations from France… …have all been saved by the NSA. And not to forget, when they talk about meta
data, which is yet another procedure,… …whereby the conversation
is not listened into… …but, instead,.. …one finds out who has phoned
or emailed whom and for how long. Which automatically means that,
in no time, one has a net… …of… …connections… …which a given person,
who seems suspicious,… …maintains with their
social surroundings. They immediately know
who, in this net, is the next most important, the
third most important,… …who is a marginal figure etc.. All this is automated, which means
everything is put through the mill. But merely automatically. Only when the’ bell’ sounds, when
the automated search methods… …identify some
suspicious pattern… …then comes a secret service employee and
says: Let’s take a closer look at this. First of all, I do not consider
this a restriction in the sense that the state
denies itself something… …or refrains from doing something. Instead, I consider this to be the
only practical way to go about it. They couldn’t possibly
listen into every conversation. They’d
have to redouble humanity. It is obvious that the entire surveillance
only works because it is automated… …and in this respect , the state
does in no way restrict itself… From the current perspective. Of course,… …it doesn’t really listen into every real
conversation with a listener in the flesh. After all, he really doesn’t want to
know anything other… … than what, according to… …the principle of
computer-aided search… …justifies some suspicion or other. From this point of view,
it is not renunciation… …but it is the practical
execution of surveillance. Of course it is very easily
sold as renunciation. And it is very likely that the
automated techniques,… …hm,… … won’t be at the
state’s disposal… …without some
restriction or other. It has to have a reason to
why it makes use of it. As already is the case
with so many other things. It has to convince some
judge of its relevance. And if it is able to,… …then it’s OK. This could be a possible
legal restriction. It is strange, but
there is indeed… …the protection of
the private sphere. It is indeed this stressing of the
fact that the citizen is autonomous. That he is only liable to rules… …where they are needed. Not where they aren’t needed. This protection. This is what
this conflict is currently about. Until now, we have the private
sphere as a respected area… …and of course the right of
the state to shine into if,…. …if it has cause to do so. Up to now, same thing.
Flats have been searched, telephones hacked into,
flats searched etc.. Whenever there have
been reasons to do so. Now the procedure is reversed. Namely,… …all communication is,… …in itself, that is without
particular suspicion,… …the object of… …an automated… …filtering process. The real invasion of the private
sphere only takes place when… …this filtering process
generates moments of suspicion. This is the inversion
currently at hand. Whether or not the courts… …somewhere decide that more
restriction is needed,… …cannot be foreseen at the moment. It is really a new field
where it isn’t yet clear… …where it will lead to. The Americans say that,… …on the one hand, they
survey everything and on the other hand,
that they are about… …to newly regulate
the rights of the NSA. And it is not even clear whether this new
way of regulating means restricting but …they are in the middle of…they
are telling the world: Don’t worry. We take care of it. In short,… …the till now valid protection of the private
sphere, is an important moment… …of the ideological
inversion discussed earlier. The citizens are subjected
to rules and to their surveillance only
where they are needed. For their interaction. And wherever this is not needed,
they are not liable to any rule. This is… …the old version and… S P E A K E R I N A U D I B L E Everything that doesn’t
threaten the state is of no interest to it, but firstly
it wants to ensure that. That’s all. I think I’m still a bit
confused regarding the distinction between Police and
secret service because… …those in charge of
it are secret services. And as such primarily
place their emphasis,… …not on where the law is
violated by regular criminals… …but on where there are people who are
opposed to a legal system on principal or … are planning acts of
terrorism. Things like that. Pretty much everything. One has
to acknowledge that… …this electronic surveillance… …is also suitable for the
regular criminal prosecution. Not only for secret service
activities, not only for… …domestic intelligence ,
Islamic terror and the likes. …but, most definitely, for all
forms of internet crime such as… …child pornography. All sort of things. Here too is
the saving and the accessing… …of the electronic communication… …an instrument. So it isn’t that Police and secret
service are simply separate entities. In the first instant, the entire surveillance
is conducted by the secret services. Then, the question of what is made
available and to whom, arises. And,… …yes,… …one notices that, at the
meeting point, as it were,… …that the state is always faced
with a delicate issue… …because… …, looking at the case of the German
NSU(National Socialist Underground),… …what is being vehemently criticised
is that the two agencies… …really have operated
separately from each other. They’d better co-operated a little
more is the standpoint here. This is some kind of… …it is stupid of the state to,… … on the one hand, obtain insight
into subversive or criminal activities… …and not to investigate
further on the other hand, simply because the secret service
has done it and not the Police. Governments also consider this
to be pretty inconvenient. And yet,… …especially in Germany, it is the
memory of fascism in connection with… …the State Security Police.
What was it called? Gestapo! Secret State Police. It held the double-function of
both secret service and Police. And this is considered
pretty undemocratic. But we too, I have to say, have already
fallen victim to such a transition… …when we got targeted by the Federal Office
for the Protection of the Constitution. A transition in the sense that the
Protection of the Constitution didn’t… …simply collect information
without further using them. But that it used them
to damage and fight us. So, here too did the Protection
of the Constitution act as a… …state protection agency… …and not just as an
information collection point. In other words, the separation… On the one hand, it is
legally determined. On the other hand, it
is a contradiction to the state and gets
bypassed whenever needed. As already mentioned with regards to the
NSU, everyone now maintains it was needed. The Protection of the Constitution
apparently hadn’t warned the Police. That it hadn’t passed its insights onto the
Police departments was a huge mistake. Now, there are special facilities for the
co-operation between the two agencies. There is for example a… …some kind of folder for extreme-right
activists. I don’t know the name. The point here is not to maintain
the separation but instead… …to work in co-operation. In short, the secret service collects
all the info and hands it to the Police so that it can strike. No further… …comments? Then,… … let’s part.

1 thought on “The Snowden-Affair: Freedom vs Security – A False Alternative!(Peter Decker, GegenStandpunkt)

  • Super! Habe einige englischsprachige, politisch interessierte Freunde. Dafür sind die Übersetzungen sehr hilfreich.

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