German politics on spying and data protection

Reading current newspapers and magazines in Germany could give you the impression we’re done with the Snowden, NSA and GCHQ. They are listening in on all our communications? Even on Frau Merkel’s?

That is not what we should be afraid of. They are friends. Also, we do not want to do anything about it. Let’s rather talk about the evil that is Facebook and Google.

Obviously, they are soft targets. It resonates well with Jane and John Doe’s perception of them as evil exploiters of seemingly private data.

What does that have to do with the Five Eyes tapping into freakin’ sea cables to listen in on every phone call you ask? Nothing, of course. It’s a nothing but smoke screen, a spin doctor’s concoction.

The best part is, this spin comes in handy for two democratic forces that are usually at odds. The executive branch does not want to do anything about the Five Eyes. Not because it fears repercussions, but because going after them would mean to deny themselves to pry open private communications. On the other hand, the so called forth power has been fighting a battle against Google and Co. for years. Instead of innovating, they blame their loss of reach, revenue, importance, credibility, you name it, on Google.

Even if you find the topic overwhelmingly complex (and it is!), you should at the very least be able to tell there is something at work when politics and press mutually agree on something.

[Update] Read Michael “mspro” Seemann’s German article about this spin here. He explores the connections and links between the involved parties in more details and adds even more beef.

[Update] Swiss newspaper NZZ headlines “Wrong-headed Debate about Google” (German), putting together recent media coverage and opinions in German media.

Image by PM Cheung, CC-BY.

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