NSA Aftermath in Germany
October 19, 2016
When it was revealed not too long ago that the United States was actively spying on Germany, the country decided it was time to investigate. Netzpolitik wrote an update on Germany’s investigation in “Snowden’s Legacy: Hearing In The Parliament Committee.” The German parliament launched a committee to head the investigation, which included many hearings. At recent hearing in Germany, five USA experts spoke to the committee, including ACLU technologist Charles Soghoian, Watson Institute’s Timothy H. Edgar, ACLU attorney Ashley Gorski, Open Society Foundation senior advisor Morton H. Halperin, and US Access Now policy manager Amie Stepanovich.
The experts met with the committee as a way to ease tensions between the US and Germany, but also share their knowledge about legal issues related to surveillance and individual’s privacy rights. The overall agreement was that current legal framework for handling these issues is outdated and needs to be revamped. There should not be a difference between technical and legal protection when it comes to privacy. As for surveillance and anonymity, there currently is not a legal checks and balances system to rein in intelligence organizations’ power. The bigger problem is not governmental spying, but how the tools are used:
Nevertheless, Christopher Soghoian noted that the real scandal was not that government agencies were spying on their people, but that technology was so poorly secured that it could have been exploited. Historically, encryption and security have had a very low priority for big Internet companies like Google. Snowden turned the discussion upside-down, his disclosures radicalised the very people who design the software the NSA had privately exploited. Therefore, the most important post-Snowden changes were not made in Government hallways but in the technological community, according to Soghoian.
German surveillance technology manufacturers Gamma Group and Trovicor were also mentioned. As the committee was investigating how the NSA violated Germany’s civil rights, of course, a reference was made to the World Wars. What we can pull from this meeting is we need change and technology needs to beef up its security capabilities.