The technology necessary for total digital surveillance is readily available and democratic states are gathering massive amounts of personal information - as revealed about the US secret service NSA and its European partners. But do we need "Big Brother" in order to be safe from terrorism? Or will total surveillance spell the end for a truly democratic society?
If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, this is the idea often used to justify violating the privacy of citizens.
But innocent people have repeatedly been caught up in the dragnet operated by the secret service's cyber watchdogs. There is "collateral damage": Arrests and house searches can be the consequence of merely visiting websites deemed suspicious and chatting in certain forums. In the worst case such information can be used as part of the basis to select targets for US anti-terror drone strikes or may lead to detention by foreign intelligence services.
Is the state justified in overriding basic citizens' rights in order to protect society from a terrorist threat? Is this anti-terrorism strategy effective? Does a democratic society need spaces in which citizens can freely express themselves away from the prying eyes of the state? Is the only choice for those seeking to protect their privacy to stay offline?
Tell us what you think: Online Surveillance - No Place to Hide
Markus Beckedahl - Since 2002, Beckedahl has been blogging about politics in a digital society at netzpolitik.org, an award-winning blog widely read across the German-speaking parts of the world. He is also co-founder of "newthinking communications", a Berlin-based agency specializing in open-source strategies and digital culture. Beckedahl has been organizing re:publica's conferences on blogs, social media and digital society since 2007. He serves as an expert to the German parliament's Enquete Commission on Internet and Digital Society and is a member of the media council for the Berlin-Brandenburg Media Broadcasting Authority. Beckedahl also teaches as a college lecturer on digital media topics.
Alan Posener - was born in London and grew up in Kuala Lumpur and West - Berlin. A teacher by training, he quit school to become a freelance author and journalist. He worked as an editor and author for the German newspaper “Die Welt” and was chief of commentary for "Welt am Sonntag". At the present, he contributes to a variety of media, among them the debate magazine The European. Posener is the author of several critically acclaimed books, among them biographies of the American idols John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Elvis Presley.
Erik Kirschbaum - Born in New York, Kirschbaum began as a reporter for various dailies and magazines in the US. He moved to Europe in 1989 to become a correspondent in Germany and Austria. Kirschbaum now works for the “Reuters” news agency in Berlin.