Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Everyone is a suspect in the age of the superspies

16 January 1999. Thanks to Anonymous.

The Times [London], 16 January 1999

[Section: World News Features]

Everyone is a suspect in the age of the superspies

By Roger Boyes

BONN -- A young lawyer stumbles upon a political scandal and finds himself pursued through America by crooked intelligence officers deploying the full battery of modern surveillance techniques. This is Hollywood's "Enemy of the State," the lawyer is the actor Will Smith, and the problem is solved in a gunfight between Mafia chieftains and National Security Agency chiefs.

Standard fare, yet the film has tapped a nerve. It coincides with an energetic debate in the foreign policy community about Catastrophe Terrorism - the ability of small groups to threaten society with weapons of mass destruction. There is no proper apparatus to guard against such a threat, government advisers say, and the West should move quickly towards setting up new agencies, new laws and new databases to sift out suspects. And, of course, we are all suspects.

This is not exclusively an American debate. The German Constitutional Court has been questioning experts on the legality of extensive electronic monitoring by the country's main spy agency, the Federal Intelligence Service.