When it collapsed some 30 years ago, the GDR (East Germany) was the most invasive surveillance state ever attempted, employing one out of every 60 people in the country to snitch on the rest, running dirty tricks campaigns against anyone deemed "subversive."
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In 1984, the Stasi -- East Germany's notorious secret police -- searched the flat of an auditor to determine if he'd leaked files that put the country in a bad light to Stern, a West German magazine, published in Hamburg. They recorded the clandestine search for posterity, and used it as the basis for a training video explaining to other secret police operatives how to search a dissident's home without alerting them that they were under suspicion. (via Grugq) Read the rest
Canadian Adrian Fish is one of the few photographers who've been permitted to take and publish photos from the archives of the Stasi, the legendarily invasive secret police of the former East Germany, who employed one snitch for every 60 people at their peak. Read the rest
East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, were the most aggressive surveillance force of their day -- at the Stasi's peak, one in 60 East Germans was snitching for the agency. Read the rest
Here's a small gallery of the East German secret police's 26th Division, hard at work during the 1980s. Read the rest
My latest Guardian column examines the relationship between technology, surveillance and wealth disparity -- specifically the way that cheap mass surveillance makes it possible to sustain more unequal societies because it makes it cheaper to find and catch the dissidents who foment rebellion over the creation of hereditary elites. Read the rest
From Laura Poitras to Jacob Appelbaum to Sarah Harrison, Berlin has become a haven for American journalists, activists and whistleblowers who fear America's unlimited appetite for surveillance and put their trust in Germany's memory of the terror of the Stasi. Read the rest
Stasi -- Secret Rooms is a 10-year project by Daniel and Geo Fuchs, who took beautiful, striking photos of the stark interiors of the spaces used by the Stasi, the terrifying secret police from the former East Germany. Read the rest
Egor Egorov visited Berlin's Stasi Museum and extensively photographed its collection of spy-gadgets from the Cold War (like the squeeze-bulb-operated jacket-button camera above). They're great photos, and at an impressively high resolution. Read the rest
Canada's Conservative government has issued new regulations to librarians and archvists governing their free speech in public forums and online media. According to the Harper government, public servants owe a "duty of loyalty" to the "duly elected government" and must get permission from their political officers managers before making any public utterance -- or even a private utterance in an online forum that may eventually leak to the public, to prevent "conflicts" or "risks" their departments.
The Tories have also rolled out a snitch-line where those loyal to the party line can report on their co-workers for failing to maintain ideological purity.
“Once you start picking on librarians and archivists, it’s pretty sad,” says Toni Samek, a professor of library and information studies at the University of Alberta. She specializes in intellectual freedom and describes several clauses in the code as “severe” and “outrageous.”
The code is already having a “chilling” effect on federal archivists and librarians, who used to be encouraged to actively engage and interact with groups interested in everything from genealogy to preserving historical documents, says archivist Loryl MacDonald at the University of Toronto.
“It is very disturbing and disconcerting to have included speaking at conferences and teaching as so-called ‘high risk’ activities,” says MacDonald, who is president of the Association of Canadian Archivists, a non-profit group representing some 600 archivists across the country.
Regular readers will remember that Canada's librarians and archivists led a charge to save Canada's National Archives when the Harper Tories broke up the irreplaceable collections and flogged them off to private collectors at fire-sale prices. Read the rest