UK Liberty

History repeating?

Posted in law and order, state-citizen relationship, surveillance society by ukliberty on May 21, 2007

The Stasi (Wikipedia):

The Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS / Ministry for State Security), commonly known as the Stasi (from Staatssicherheit), was the main security (secret police) and intelligence organization of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The Stasi was headquartered in East Berlin, with an extensive complex in Lichtenberg and several smaller complexes throughout the city. Widely regarded as one of the most effective intelligence agencies in the world, the Stasi’s motto was “Schild und Schwert der Partei” (Shield and Sword of the Party), showing its connections to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, the equivalent to the CPSU of the Soviet Union. Another term used in earlier years to refer to the Stasi was Staatssicherheitsdienst (State Security Service). …

The Stasi influenced almost every aspect of life in the GDR. During the mid-1980s, a civilian network of informants known as the Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs, Unofficial Collaborators) began to grow within both parts of Germany, East and West. By the time East Germany collapsed in 1989, it was estimated that 91,000 full-time employees and 300,000 informants were employed by the Stasi. In other words, about one in fifty East Germans collaborated with the Stasi—one of the highest penetrations of any civilian society by an intelligence-gathering organization. …

The Stasi also monitored politically subversive behavior among citizens of East Germany. During the Peaceful Revolution of 1989, Stasi offices became overrun by enraged citizens but not before a large amount of confidential material was first destroyed by Stasi officers. The remaining files were later made available for review to those who were targets of Stasi surveillance; many of the reports revealed that the individual’s friends, colleagues, spouses, and relatives had regularly filed reports with the organization.

The Times (testing the waters?):

Council workers, charity staff and doctors will be required to tip off police about anyone whom they believe could commit a violent crime, under secret Home Office plans.

Civil liberties campaigners last night said that the proposal raised the prospect of people being placed under surveillance and detained even though they have committed no offence.

And a senior Whitehall official, who leaked the plans to The Times, said that it would entail a mass of personal information, including sensitive medical records, being passed around many different agencies — even if there was no firm evidence of any potential risk from an individual.

The draft set of proposals on “multi-agency information sharing” was circulated around Whitehall by Simon King, head of the violent crime unit at the Home Office. The document states: “Public bodies will have access to valuable information about people at risk of becoming either perpetrators or victims of serious violence. Professionals will obviously alert police or other relevant authority if they have good reason to believe [an] act of serious violence is about to be committed. However, our proposal goes beyond that, and is that, when they become sufficiently concerned about an individual, they must consider initial risk assessment of risk to/from that person, and refer [the] case to [a] multi-agency body.”

It suggests that two new agencies — one for potential criminals, the other for potential victims — might be created to collate reports from the front line and carry out “full risk assessments”. But the draft does not spell out what action could then be taken to head off violent attacks.  …

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