Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Yesterday's article in the Los Angeles Times, "Germany seeks expansion of computer spying," explains how the country's authorities are planning to plant code in the hard drives of suspected terrorists that would scan photographs and documents, record keystrokes, and even potentially turn on webcams and microphones without the subjects' knowledge. Much of the ire of digital rights advocates has focused on Wolfgang SchaĆ¼ble, the Minister of the Interior, who like U.S. authorities associated with the Bush administration has focused on terrorist use of the Internet in official statements and reports. According to the article, in the government's discourse, AK-47s are compared to laptops by German officials, ironically at a time when those like Siva Vaidhyanathan are already afraid to have their machines marked with stickers that say "this machine kills fascists" when passing through airport security.

In response to this tightening of civil liberties, protesters are hitting the streets of Berlin and buying up t-shirts with SchaĆ¼ble's picture that say Stasi 2.0, in reference to the Communist era secret police that suppressed political resistance by curtailing free speech. Indeed, Lisa Nakamura has said that the dark side of Web 2.0 ideology is what she calls a "culture of profiling," so the t-shirt might fit here as well.

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