July 1, 2013


You might have heard of Malte Spitz before, from articles, his website/blog, or YouTube videos that feature "six months of his life".  Spitz is a German politician that sued T-Mobile to get six months worth of the data they had stored related to his phone records.  The data collection and storage was part of a European Union directive that the German Constitutional Court eventually ruled as unconstitutional.

Spitz took the 35,830 records that T-Mobile turned over to him, combined it with other public data, and crafted a scary presentation of how easily one's life can be mapped.  Here, you can literally watch his movements and many of his actions mapped out.  Bear in mind that the data presented is from 2009.  Technology - GPS tracking, wireless capability, cellular tech - improves and become more and more intrusive each day.

In an Op-Ed piece for The New York Times this past weekend, Spitz recounts the brief romance that Germany, like so many other countries, had for Obama.  A romance that has now ended.  Abruptly.  Decisively.

Regarding the NSA, Spitz brings to light what we can't (without cries about Godwin's Law).
Given our history, we Germans are not willing to trade in our liberty for potentially better security. Germans have experienced firsthand what happens when the government knows too much about someone. In the past 80 years, Germans have felt the betrayal of neighbors who informed for the Gestapo and the fear that best friends might be potential informants for the Stasi. Homes were tapped. Millions were monitored.

Although these two dictatorships, Nazi and Communist, are gone and we now live in a unified and stable democracy, we have not forgotten what happens when secret police or intelligence agencies disregard privacy. It is an integral part of our history and gives young and old alike a critical perspective on state surveillance systems.
Spitz goes on to speak of the loss of trust with our nation - and hones in to what I find the most appalling generalization of all:
His speech caused many Germans to question whether Americans actually share our understanding of the right balance between liberty and security. 
It is somewhat of a kick in the gut, to think that this president represents me, in the eyes of those in other countries.

Hell, yes, red-blooded Americans understand the balance between liberty and security.  We understand that this president has no respect for our Constitution or the rights afforded by it.  Herr Spitz ended his piece with a quote from Benjamin Franklin (again, my hair is on fire thinking that a German has a better grasp of American political history than our own president).  This quote should be tattooed on Obama's forehead:
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

No comments: