Stasi vs. the NSA Back to Back Who's Worse - a Visual Guide

falkvinge.net

by : Rick Falkvinge

If you were to compare the evil, reprehensible Stasi to the NSA side by side in a visual comparison, who’s the worse surveillance hawk? The people over at OpenDataCity have put together a nice visual guide with astonishing results. We tend to think of Stasi-scale surveillance as the epitome of evil surveillance, and have completely lost track of what today’s governments are doing to their people.

When you go to this page (in German), you are presented with a nice map that compares the size of the Stasi archives – a large building in Berlin – with the corresponding NSA archives. It’s clear that the NSA’s archives – if used with Stasi technology, for an apples-to-apples comparison – would be quite a bit larger:

Comparison of the Stasi and NSA archives. The Stasi archives were a building in Berlin, the NSA archives seem to be more like a couple of entire blocks.

Comparison of the Stasi and NSA archives. The Stasi archives were a building in Berlin, the NSA archives seem to be more like a couple of entire blocks.

However, this image isn’t very visually friendly for comparison – we want both buildings centered. Let’s pan to the right a bit to get the entire NSA building – or its comparative, fictive building – and the Stasi building centered in picture:

Hmm, ok. The NSA's building seems to be more than a couple of entire blocks in Berlin, and it just keeps going. This isn't easily centered in picture next to the Stasi building.

Hmm, ok. The NSA’s building seems to be more than a couple of entire blocks in Berlin, and it just keeps going. This isn’t easily centered in picture next to the Stasi building.

Perhaps we’ll need to zoom out a bit to get both buildings side by side in order to compare them properly and visually.

Ok, that didn't help too much. The point is starting to get across here...

Ok, zooming out a level didn’t help too much. The point is starting to get across here…

We obviously need to keep zooming out. The scale of what the NSA is doing compared to the “old, evil Stasi” is slowly starting to come across.

Zoomed out to cover large parts of the German countryside, and it's still just NSA archives. How big is this thing anyway?

Zoomed out to cover large parts of the German countryside, and it’s still just NSA archives. How big is this thing anyway?

Ok, we give up: let’s just zoom out until we have the full picture. Turns out we have to continue zooming for quite a while until we have the full picture:

...finally. So where the hated Stasi archives were a full building in Berlin, in an apples-to-apples comparison, the NSA archives would cover the Eastern part of Europe, the entire Middle East, and a good chunk of northeastern Africa. That kind of establishes the orders of magnitude we're dealing with.

…finally. So where the hated Stasi archives were a full building in Berlin, in an apples-to-apples comparison, the NSA archives would cover the Eastern part of Europe, the entire Middle East, and a good chunk of northeastern Africa. That kind of establishes the orders of magnitude we’re dealing with.

I think most people had a hunch that the NSA could be just as bad as the old Stasi, or possibly even slightly worse. This kind of visual apples-to-apples comparison is necessary to establish just how much worse. Humans are terrible at grasping orders of magnitude at an intuitive level.

So where the hated Stasi surveillance was a building in area, the NSA surveillance today is an entire continent.

As a final note, the word Stasi was a contraction of the East German surveillance agency’s full name, Ministerium für Staatssicherheit. It translates to National Security Agency.

About The Author: Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

All text in this article is Public Domain / CC0 unless specifically noted and credited otherwise. Copy, remix, and inspire.

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Comment by Nobody Will Observe on July 10, 2013 at 4:03pm

Comment by Nobody Will Observe on July 10, 2013 at 2:45pm

Technology has much improved.  May looking at every under the sun have the same effect as staring into it.

Comment by Marklar on July 10, 2013 at 1:29pm

LOL, well vote Stasi 2014 wasn't really the point of the article I think but I hear the Cthulhu party has some big plans.

Comment by Nobody Will Observe on July 9, 2013 at 10:41pm

The lesser of two twin evils?  No Thank You.

"Destroying the New World Order"

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE SITE!

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