Pan comes from the Greek, referring to “all.” And optic also comes from the Greek (optikos), referring to the faculty of sight. Put them together and you have: seeing all or viewing everything.
The right to privacy has been central to democratic society since its inception. In turbulent times, the desires for enhanced national security is often seen to trump an individuals right to privacy. Along with laws permitting expanded government control over the lives of its people, technology has increased the potential for surveillance of the average citizen
Berlin makes for an interesting backdrop for President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss recent revelations about NSA surveillance. It was there, during the Cold War, that the United States and the Soviet Union focused much of the espionage activity.
Abandoned on top of a hill made of rubble is the main listening station for American and British surveillance. The gates of the former US spy station are locked and secure; its perimeter sealed by an uncompromising high fence, an angry crisscross mesh of wires that clearly imply “ Eintritt Verboten!” The artificial hill, built on top of a never completed Nazi military- technical college was dubbed Teufelsberg, German for “ Devil’s Mountain”. At 260 feet it is hardly a mountain. But it was tall enough for the NSA to point antennas hundreds of miles into East Germany.
There, hidden under giant, slightly menacing –looking domes, the antennas picked up all kinds of radio traffic from the East. And 24/7, the Americans used dozens of vacuum tube radios and reel-to-reel tape recorders to monitor it all, in the hope of predicting future actions in the Eastern Bloc.
With recent technological advances, Teufelsberg would now be perceived as belonging to the Pleistocene Era of communications. The listening station, once a hive of activity now lies silent, a monument to the history of surveillance, data colligation and defunct technology.
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