Political Meltdown In Macedonia Shows Destabilizing Effect Of Massive Government Surveillance
from the what-a-mess dept
Techdirt writes a lot about surveillance and its potential dangers. But if you want to see the reality of abusive governmental spying, look no further than Macedonia, where a huge surveillance scandal is unfolding (original in German, found via @Netzpolitik):
In a press conference announced weeks ago, opposition leader Zoran Zaev accused Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of being responsible for a massive wiretapping scandal. Those spied upon include government ministers, opposition politicians, journalists, entrepreneurs and many members of the judiciary and the security apparatus.
“More than 20,000 people in Macedonia have been monitored over the years,” said Zaev. “We have evidence that there has been a comprehensive, illegal wiretap program, on the direct instructions of the head of intelligence Saso Mijalkov and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.”
With targeted surveillance affecting 1% of the population, it is hard to believe that alongside immediately useful information about what political opponents and key figures in society were saying and doing, a certain amount of blackmail material wasn’t collected by the government spies and squirrelled away for future use. According to the Deutschlandfunk story translated above, for his part, Gruevski alleges that Zaev threatened to release damaging material he had obtained unless elections were called immediately.
The whole situation is a mess, and at its heart lies uncontrolled, abusive surveillance, where the inevitable leaks of incriminating material have now destabilized the entire political system. Sadly, there’s no obvious way out. As the article notes, the lack of press freedom or even an independent judiciary in Macedonia means that it will be very hard to get to the bottom of what is happening here, and then move on.