NSA Surveillance Disclosures Recall Days of East German STASI
When Wolfgang Schmidt learned about NSA leaker Edward Snowdenâ€™s revelations concerning the agency's ability to collect personal data on millions of American citizens, he was astonished. When he was a lieutenant colonel in East Germanyâ€™s secret police, the STASI, his department, was limited to tapping just 40 phones every day. If a decision was made to tap a new phone, one of the others had to be disconnected. Said Schmidt: â€śFor us, this would have been a dream come true ... so much information on so many people!â€ť
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) employed more than 90,000 people, including 15,000 soldiers in the GDR army and 2,000 full-time collaborators. There were also 175,000 â€śunofficialâ€ť collaborators. One STASI official estimated the total to be closer to 500,000 people, or about five percent of the countryâ€™s population at the time.