Privacy of Correspondence 2.0

This morning, I heard the following news, which, afterwards, I also read about in the MDR:

The German secret service agencies monitor more and more emails. As “Bild” reports, the Parliamentary Control Panel of the Deutscher Bundestag admitted to having controlled more than 37 million data connections in 2010. According to this information, the number of controls was more than five times as much as during the preceding year.

In BILD it sounds like this:

According to them, they controlled 37,292,862 emails and data connections in 2010, because certain catch phrases (for instance bomb, atom, missile, etc) were part of the email. Consequently, the number was more than five times as much as during the previous year. In 2009, they had controlled 6.8 millions internet communications.

Let me clarify the dimension of what happened:

There was a time when emails did not yet exist. And not everybody had a telephone, either. In those days, people actually sent each other letters.

Now imagine an army of state functionaries or robots opening each individual letter with special care (using vapour) and looking for words such as bomb, atom, missile, etc.  If one of these terms is found, they photocopy the letter and hand it on for “control”. Afterwards, the letter is carefully re-sealed, so the recipient will never imagine it might have been read.

When I was young, we had something called privacy of correspondence. And the aforementioned procedure would have been a violation of our constitution.

Many people living in the FRG believed that the official agents of the republic actually abided by the law and did not violate the privacy of correspondence. My father was one of them. But my father always suspected that those “on the other side”, in the “eastern zone” or “Soviet Zone” – to make them angry, we provocatively called them “GDR” – were not abiding by that law.

Consequently, he secretly marked the letters he sent to his aunts in Brandenburg. Like this, they would be able to determine whether the letters had been opened by the “Stasi” (or by whomever else). And, of course, he used camouflage expressions for certain terms. I remember code words for the political situation, but also for coffee and books – whatever you sent from here to there. Yes, that is how it was in those days.…

Back to email control. Perhaps the action per se is nonsense. What terrorist or criminal will be stupid enough to put these dangerous words into an email? But they have to find a way to spend all our tax money and all the money they borrow from the financial market, don’t they?

There is one piece of information I sadly miss in the media: has there ever been even a single criminal act that was prevented by this method? And how many guiltless persons have been compromised or put under suspicion?

(Translated by EG)

Now there are several things you could do:
If you want to prevent your emails from being read, never use any of the critical words. After all, you do not really need them, do you? However, this will only work until it dawns on the secret services that it is particularly those emails not containing one of the critical words that are the most dangerous.
If you want to see the secret services really having a lot to read, then why don’t you construct some phrases that contain all the critical words and put those in all your emails? That would be a sort of civil resistance. But perhaps this is also already a “dangerous word”.
Well, I will continue as before! I will simply write what I think. Because I could not care less about who reads my emails.



The words bomb, atom, missile, etc., will be found in this post.
No. Not Damn!
After all, this is a chance to increase the number of readers! And there is no such thing as an “unauthorized reader” of this blog. Everyone is welcome!

And here is another P.S.: if they continue in that way, I may soon be happy that BILD exists. In former times, I would never have believed such a thing possible.

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