Connecting Kim Dotcom and Edward Snowden

To have a staff of thousands that keeps me informed is one of the privileges of this blog. Had I not been tipped about the projection of Kim Dotcom’s face with the words “United Stasi of America” on a wall of the U.S. embassy in Berlin, I would not have made a connection between N.S.A. whistle-blower Edward Snowden and Kim Dotcom, the German-born Internet entrepreneur formerly known as Kim Schmitz.


This image was projected in protest on a wall of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.

The “Stasi” reference will be obvious to anyone, especially Germans, familiar with the secret police of the former German Democratic Republic, aka East Germany. That is why, as one of my staffers wrote, “The NSA spying has been the top story in Germany for the last three weeks. The Germans have a rich history of citizens being spied on so they’re sensitive about it.” Another staffer brought that home with a message that led me to an article at Spiegel Online International, NSA Joke: US Military Intervene over Facebook Event.


Dotcom talks by satellite link from New Zealand.

But the projection of Dotcom’s face on the embassy building in Berlin by the artist Oliver Bienkowski — it was a 30-second riff on similar images of Dotcom’s face, which has loomed via satellite during recent press conferences and tech gatherings — not only connects Snowden’s revelations to German outrage at being targeted by the N.S.A., but also makes implicit reference to a defense against invasions of Internet privacy: Dotcom, who is battling to prevent his “extradition from New Zealand over U.S. claims of ‘criminal’ copyright infringement,” plans to launch an “encrypted email service” that would protect its users from spying by gummint or Internet service providers.

This development and Dotcom’s take on the suicide earlier this year of the Internet activist Aaron Swartz add another layer of intrigue to what is going on behind the scenes in the hacker wars. Meanwhile, Bienkowski is now being investigated and could face criminal charges. For what? For “slander against the organizations and representatives of a foreign state.” How cute is that!?

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