The NSA are not the Stasi: Godwin for mass surveillance

Short thesis

It's tempting to compare NSA mass surveillance to the GDR's notorious Stasi, but the differences are more illuminating than the similarities.


The Stasi needed one snitch for every 50 people; one NSA spook can keep watch on 10,000 or more people. IT bequeathed unthinkable productivity gains to spies, and this creates structural changes in the extent to which corrupt elites can retain power without danging the carrots of redistribution, fairness and social programmes before their populace.

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