Junge Welt    June 10, 2000

Gauck Gores The Internet                           

How the agency's boss tries to deal with the pains of the internet generation

Who hasn't heard of him, the federal commissioner for the documents of the state security services of the former GDR. The former pastor Joachim Gauck and the multi-thousand headed agency that he leads is the guarantee that the Cold War will mercilessly continue until the last native inhabitants of the GDR die out. Such holy enthusiasm naturally draws with it its critics and opponents; such as the German-Canadian Alant Jost living in Berlin, who has found a simple method to anger the BStU - thus the official abbreviation of the agency. He registered for himself the internet domain name "Gauck.de", and posted in the internet critical articles and press reports. He also used a graphic of the opening website of the agency to illustrate their choice in pictures, thus depicting the manner and diction of the agency, so he explained to Junge Welt.

Even the Gauck-People must have an internet oriented worker amongst them, since they decided to go after good old Alant Jost. Preliminary results of their counter-offensive: Gauck's deputy Peter Busse sent Mr. Jost a letter that in its tone and manner seems tailored to instil panic in even the most decent of citizens. Legally, quite dubiously, Mr. Busse argues that Mr. Jost can't actually do what he's doing. "You are calling your internet domain Gauck.de", Mr. Busse complains and continues: "In the public's mind this domain has come to refer to the agency (BStU) that is led by Mr. Gauck. Thus, one finds in the press, and in court decisions the common use of the term Gauck-Commission. Even in the official phonebook the 'Yellow Pages', the agency can be found under the name Gauck."

Irrespective of the nice reference to the alleged official Yellow Pages, its a peculiar argumentation. Had I reserved for myself the site Fischer.de and used it to criticize the politics of the Foreign Office, would that be illegal? Is no one allowed to use the domain Schröder.de because momentarily the Federal Chancellor is so called?

Its not the use of the name that really bothers the BStU. "The actual intent of the site is the debasement of Mr. Gauck and the agency that he leads", wrote director Busse in his letter - and here lies the real issue. Gauck and his people have currently become extremely sensitive to criticism. Not the least of which has come from the permanent attacks of the former Interior Minister of the GDR Peter-Michael Diestel. But get real, these hardly are debasing criticisms. Mr. Diestel's critique can also be found on the incriminating site (of Mr. Jost).

 Alant Jost is certainly a clever old chap. In addition to the domain name "Gauck.de" for Germany, he acquired the domains "Gauck.org", "Gauck.net", and "Gauck.com". These are international domains and one can hardly claim that in the Chinese or Columbian "Yellow Pages" the term Gauck-Commission can be found. But even these Mr. Jost needs to give up should the BStU have their way. Otherwise, legal actions will be taken against him. And its going to be expensive for him. Attorney fees of over 1 000 Marks are already being asked from him; all this because an advocate has put up a website. In addition, if he doesn't cease naming his sites "Gauck" he's threatened with 10 000 Marks in penalties. He, however, is not willing to give in.

To bad the BStU isn't a mega corporation that simply missed registering their name. Then the smart Gauck critic could have sold the rights to them for lots of money. Examples, of people who have registered names of famous people are many. The "Gauck-Busse-Commission" should look at there huge budget and make Mr. Jost an attractive offer. In the end, its all a matter of how much energy one wants to invest.

Klaus Fischer

German original: