Election day

Germany’s next election day lies still quite a bit in the future (sometime in September), but the discussion about “Politikverdrossenheit” (disenchanted with politics) has already started in the media. Today I was proven right (German,  automated translation) that my “Politikverdrossenheit” is actually not based on a lack of interest on these topics or a general misunderstanding, but more on a disillusionment of what is going on “up there” and what a single individuum can actually do in this country. Of course there is always something what can be done, after all I wouldn’t be active in the David vs Goliath challenge the Working Group against Data Retention faces, but still, big moves or radical political changes (for good, not for bad) just don’t seem to be possible here.

While I don’t envy the US americans for their past eight years of Bush and all the other problems they have, I’m certainly envious of them about their current president Obama. I wonder if somebody like Obama would even get as high in the political triangle in one of the countries of the “old world” – I’m sure that there are a lot of good, political driven people here as well which could do a similar good job, but I doubt they’d ever get the chance to “run for chancellor”…

Less than three weeks left: Freedom Not Fear 2008

Only 20 days are left until the biggest, globally concerted action day for freedom and against angst, terror and surveillance takes place. So lets see what we have right now:

  • Protest Marches: Berlin (Germany), Paris (France), Stockholm (Sweden), London (UK), Sofia (Bulgaria), Luxembourg (Luxembourg)
  • Parties: Kopenhagen (Denmark), Berlin (Germany), Stockholm (Sweden), Prag (Czech Republic), Washington, DC (USA)
  • Street Events: Zurich (Switzerland)
  • Workshops / Conferences: Rome (Italy), Washington, DC (USA)
  • Street Carnival: Prag (Czech Republic)
  • Full Program (street protest, speeches, music, arts, privacy market) : Den Haag (Belgium)

This list is already very promising. I’m sure a couple of currently planned, but unannounced activities will follow, since more contacts to civil rights activists in South America (Argentinia, Ecuador and Brasil) and Asia (South Korea) have just been established.

This is overall an amazing development if you think about it. What started in 2006 with a few hundred demonstrants in Bielefeld and Berlin, found its intermediate highlight in September 2007 when more than 15.000 people went on the streets of Berlin again, has now created a huge charisma and serves as an example for activists around the world. I’m very sure, the upcoming October 11th will mark yet another milestone.

Colin J. Bennett, Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, also notes the achievements of our working group in his new book “The Privacy Advocates – Resisting the Spread of Surveillance”:

“In Germany, there have been high levels of activism against new laws mandating the retention of communications data by telecommunications companies and Internet service providers, including a rally in Berlin in September 2007 in which fifteen thousand people participated.”

Colin spoke with many fellow activists for his book, amongst them Ralf Bendrath, which recently told us a nice anecdote on our mailing list:

[…]Everytime I spoke to him in the last couple of months, his reaction was like: “Can’t you guys just pause your activities in Germany for a moment? You just submmitted the biggest constitutional court case in German history, which means I have to re-write this chapter of my book again!”

It may be hard sometimes, but I don’t think we’re here for slowing down the pace, are we?

Neuer Termin: Demo am 28. September in Leipzig

Die Mobilisierungsdemo “Freiheit statt Angst – Leipzig 2008” wird nun, anders als urprünglich geplant, am Sonntag, den 28. September 2008 um 15 Uhr vom Augustusplatz, Gewandhausseite starten. Die Terminverschiebung um einen Tag hatten wir in dieser Woche beschlossen, da am 27. September durch verschiedene städtische Veranstaltungen und Ereignisse keine für uns vertretbare Route mit dem Ordnungs- bzw. Marktamt der Stadt Leipzig zu organisieren war.

Der komplette Streckenverlauf sieht nun so aus:

Größere Kartenansicht

Unsere Ortsgruppe führt im September an den Wochenenden vor der Demonstration weiterhin zwei Infostände durch.

Der erste Infostand findet am 13. September 2008 im Rahmen der Veranstaltung “Rock am Kreuz on Tour” im Lene-Voigt-Park in Leipzig / Reudnitz ab ca. 14 Uhr statt. Als besondere Attraktion versuchen wir hier einige Modell-Quadrocopter zu zeigen, die freundlicherweise von befreundeten Hackern des Sublab zur Verfügung gestellt werden.

Der zweite Infostand ist am 20. September in der Leipziger Innenstadt und wird wieder am Nikolaikirchhof in der Nähe des Brunnens stattfinden, diesmal in der Zeit zwischen 13 und 18 Uhr.

Wir würden uns freuen, zu den Infoständen Kontakt zu weiteren interessierten Aktiven zu bekommen, die Lust haben, uns bei den Aktionen zu unterstützen oder auch einfach nur Werbung zu machen. Natürlich könnt ihr auch jederzeit bei einem unserer regelmäßigen Treffen vorbeischauen – diese finden nun jeden Dienstag ab 20 Uhr im Sublab (Anfahrt) statt.

80 million suspects, 40 cities, one goal

The German Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung (German Working Group on Data Retention) initiated demonstrations, pickets and other actions successfully in more than 40 German cities today. As the demo leader of the demonstration in Leipzig, I can just say wow. We’ve never thought to get so many people on the streets – we expected a few hundreds, but unofficial counts say we’ve had more than 1500 participants. What a big success!

There are some low-resolution images available, audio and video will follow shortly. Also, our press representative Eric wrote a quick summary (in German).

Now, whats next? Its obvious that the German law on data retention will go through the Bundestag by Friday (9th Nov), with only small changes such as the starting date when internet service providers have to store all our data (this has been pushed back another year to January 1st, 2009), but still, the criticism remains and our actionism as well: The next big thing after the introduction of the data retention will be a claim in front of the Bundesverfassungsgericht. More than 7000 people signed this already and I expect at least a few hundreds more by today.

Exciting times

Tomorrow I’ll attend the biggest demo so far in my life – which is opposed against the so-called “Vorratsdatenspeicherung” (data retention). The demo itself starts at 2:30pm in front of the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin and stops at a couple of places before it ends again in front of the Brandenburger Tor.

I’ll travel together with other people from the local subsidiary of the AK Vorrat from Leipzig main station to Berlin tomorrow morning at 10:45am – if you want to join us last minute, this is your chance!

I’ll also give a short radio interview on 26th of September on the happenings and the demo at Radio Blau – more details about this can be found in our wiki.

Apropos radio, if you can’t attend the demo tomorrow in Berlin for some reason (I’ve heard some people are waiting for the birth of their child *wink*), you can follow everything still by listening to the livestream starting from 12pm tomorrow. Have fun!