Perhaps a nation who are best placed to be aware of how spying and erosion of freedom affects your life in practice are the East Germans. The government mainly through the State internal security agency - the infamous Stasi conisistently spied on every aspect of a normal citizens life. It's estimated that more than 1 in 50 East Germans regularly collaborated with this agency to provide information on their fellow citizens.
|Privacy Cartoon - Courteousy of Chris Slane|
Obviously this creates a huge atmosphere of tension and drastically affects peoples liberty and freedom of speech. It is not that hard to imagine how we could end up in a situation of the Germans and Russians in the 2nd World War where you could be imprisoned for saying or doing anything slightly out of line with the dictates of Stalin or the SS !
The Germans are already dubbing the European directive to be Stasi 2.0 and refreshingly many defenders of free Speech took to the streets of Berlin in October to demonstrate against this spying law.
The directive states that basically all Electronic communication should be logged for a period of between 6 months and two years, so that's web browsing, emails, chat session, phone calls. There are some restrictions about what content can be stored but as usual there is huge scope for misinterpretation and abuse!
The usual reasons are cited for this directive, catching terrorists, prosecuting criminals - how successful this would be is dubious especially when the said terrorists will probably be protecting their identities whilst our Governments spy on the ordinary citizens.
Is it worth it - in my mind I'll give a definite
the spying mistakes have been made down the centuries by many societies, they create fear, erode freedom and promote genuine injustice in many cases.
And if only to make things worse read this - Intercept Modernisation programme