When the National Security Agency’s disclosures became known to the public – thanks to Edward Snowden – most people realized that privacy means absolutely nothing.
The governments’ capabilities regarding mass surveillance is jaw dropping and so is their complexity. If you toss in a controlling governance and financial catastrophe, the combined effect is the chilling Orwellian dystopia we see today.
The figures from the Greek Statistics Agency details – in depth – the scale of the country’s surveillance and wiretapping for the past five years (ever since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008). Statistics show the country’s wiretaps have increased nearly 1,050 percent during this timeframe.
And, in 2008, the country attained two superbugs that allow Greece’s counter-terrorism and secret police units to listen in on the conversations of its countrymen on a scale that’s unprecedented.
As it stands currently, Internet service providers are not being forced to follow the security standards, meaning browsing histories and emails can be used… all in the name of national security.
One doesn’t have to speculate too hard on who it is the Greek government is they want to “spy” on: governments are ardent to link squatters, anarchists and activists to terrorist groups, property damage and bank robberies. The best way, countries have claimed, is listening in on the private conversations of the whole country.
Spain and Italy’s Wiretapping Trends
Spain and Italy have reported similar trends. In Italy, there was a 22 percent increase in wiretapping from 2006 to 2010. More than 100,000 people in 2010 were wiretapped. No doubt it’s a sensitive topic and hotly-debated discussion in the country. There have been instances where the wiretapping has exposed political corruption.
A new law, which was passed and signed by the Monti government in January, permits the secret service to review the databases of various companies without getting a warrant for the sake of national security. In the last six months, the secret service has accessed the databases about 300,000 times.
In Spain, the National Intelligence Centre, Guardian Civil and National Police have used the SITEL, a wiretapping system that began in 2001 and used against Anonymous and various activist groups.
Arrests Of Hacktivist Group and Anarchists
On June 10, 2011, the Technological Investigation Brigade of the National Police Chief said the department was able to dismantle the Spanish hacktivist branch, arresting three men who were responsible for attacks on various organizations – Sony, Enel, BBVA and more.
Last May, another five anarchists were arrested for exalting terrorism, with their arrest made on evidence from the Facebook comments they made as well as their participation in several Facebook groups. Freedom for the Five of Barcelona blog detailed the charges saying state and regional police forces consider the five to be involved with terrorist gangs although there is no proof outside the social networks of their involvement. It goes on to say that the prosecution feels all material seized from the suspects’ homes reinforce their accusations – books, anarchist themed flags and shirts, etc.
While it may not be wiretapping, it’s certainly a surveillance of the social media networks… in a less sophisticated form. However, it’s still quite telling of how states are using the tools to keep an eye on activists and others who would bring disharmony to the country. It’s not just about terrorists or criminals anymore.
The line is hazy between the words “activists” and “terrorists”, which is something all governments have tried to do for decades. The surveillance methods various governments have used in the name of national security should be held accountable to the public.