Friday, May 22, 2009

In Germany, Widespread Spying is Back, This Time by Corporations

Henry Chu writes in The Los Angeles Times:

Growing up in West Germany, Lothar Schroeder never knew that terrible sense of violation suffered by people in the communist East at the hands of the secret police who tailed them, bugged their homes and recruited neighbors and even family members to snitch on them.

Now he knows.

But it's not a totalitarian state doing the snooping this time; it's some of the country's largest corporations -- big names in telecommunications, transportation and retail.

Last year, authorities informed Schroeder that Deutsche Telekom had secretly combed through his cellphone records, apparently to root out the source of leaks to the news media. Schroeder, a union representative on the company's board of supervisors, was stunned.

"I never could believe that Deutsche Telekom would use their data in this way, never," he said, adding ruefully, "Perhaps I'm a little bit naive."

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany is being rocked by a string of spying scandals that have staggered residents with their scale and brought back painful memories of the prying eyes of Big Brother during the Cold War.

More here.


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