Data Privacy, Data Privacy Data Privacy…

That’s how the mantra goes. Unless, of course, it’s about the data privacy of a BAD Austrian nationalist, right?

Srache

No outrage about this blatant breach of data protection here in Germany, at any rate. Normally they’d be out in the streets about something like this.

A German data protection agency has suggested German media outlets were wrong to publish video that exposed Heinz-Christian Strache’s allegedly corrupt intentions.

News agencies violated privacy rights by publishing a secretly filmed recording of the now-former vice-chancellor of Austria, an official German data protection agency claimed on Sunday.

Stefan Brink, who heads the Data Protection and Freedom of Information agency in the German region of Baden-Württemberg, believes the tape of Heinz-Christian Strache has far-reaching negative repercussions.

“If we cheat political opponents, violate their privacy and even commit criminal wrongdoing, we ultimately harm our political culture and us all.”

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Germans Can’t Live Without Facebook

Or at least that’s the impression I get. Otherwise, if they were so terribly worried about what Facebook does with their data, they would simply stop using it. It’s still a “free” service, right? But, of course, nothing is ever for free.

Facebook

Facebook is open about collecting a broad variety of personal information, from facial recognition data to, yes, “likes” on other sites. Privacy-minded people can easily find out what Facebook knows about them and even download the data. So it’s not as if users were deceptively kept in the dark about Facebook’s harvesting of “21st century raw materials.” That, however, is not the Federal Cartel Office’s main concern; it’s that Facebook, as a company dominant in its market, forces users to agree to these harvesting practices: They don’t really have any place else to go for their digital social needs if they feel uncomfortable about how their data are used. If it’s a choice “between accepting ‘the whole Facebook package,’ including an extensive disclosure of personal data, or not using Facebook at all,” as the regulator put it in a December document, and if Facebook is a dominant company, it’s illegal in Germany.

The regulatory attack on personal data harvesting is based on the unproven assumption that the data are valuable.

Data Protection, Data Protection, Data Protection…

This mantra is suddenly not quite as effective as it used to be in Germany.

Data

“We have to expect a long period of terror. London, Madrid, Paris, now Brussels. Even German cities will not be spared in the long run. So far, we have been lucky”, stated Rainer Wendt, chief of the German Police Union at newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.

On this frame, German politicians ask for an increased exchange of information between European authorities, in a country that is really sensitive over privacy issues and has some of the strictest rules on privacy and data protection in the world, partly as a heritage from Germany’s surveillance history through the East German and Nazi dictatorships.

“The best remedy against such attacks is information exchange,” stressed Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière.

And remember all the NSA, “friends don’t spy on friends” hysteria? U.S., Germany eye ways to deepen cyber collaboration

De Maizière will an die “Datentöpfe.” “Datenschutz ist schön, aber in Krisenzeiten hat Sicherheit Vorrang.”

But What About Datenschutz?

That means data privacy and is way big medicine here in Germany indeed. Just go ask Google, Facebook, the Boy Scouts, whoever.

Names

So like how on earth could German counter-terrorism police be “investigating documents (illegally acquired) said to reveal the identities of a large number of fighters of so-called Islamic State?” Without their expressed written permission, I mean. Do Julian Assange and Edward Snowden know about this?

Don’t these terrorists have the right to keep the German state from snooping into their, uh, Islamic state? Somebody call the nation’s Datenschutzbeauftragter (data protection officer) immediately. This is an outrage or something.

22 000 Namen von Islamisten enthüllt | ISIS-Geheimdienstchef verlor USB-Stick mit Terrordaten

Finding Friends Now Illegal In Germany

If you had any friends, you wouldn’t have to find them, right?

Facebook

And trying to find friends who aren’t your friends yet would only be an imposition and a possible violation of their Gott-given data privacy rights.

So just why are you trying to find these friends, anyway? Do you have some hidden agenda we don’t know about? What are you really up to? And, more importantly, why are you standing on ze corner?

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice has upheld a 2014 judgement that Facebook’s Friend Finder feature is illegal under laws concerning both unwanted commercial promotions and data protection, following an appeal by the social media giant.

The album (Weasels Ripped My Flesh) also documents the brief tenure of Lowell George (guitar and vocals), who went on to found the country-rock band Little Feat with Mothers bassist Roy Estrada . On “Didja Get Any Onya?”, George affects a German accent to relate a story of being a small boy in Germany and seeing “a lot of people stand around on the corners asking questions, ‘Why are you standing on the corner, acting the way you act, looking the way you look, why do you look that way?'”

Guy Paid To Warn Germans About Too Much Video Surveillance Warns Germans About Too Much Video Surveillance

This guy and millions of other Germans, too (although they don’t get paid and therefore do it for free).

Video

Datenschutzbeauftragten (data protection officers) are just that way over here, whether they’re Datenschutzbeauftragten or not.

It doesn’t matter that most of this video surveillance might be taking place for a reasonable reason (like crime prevention/fighting – think Boston Marathon), there is clearly a pathological fear of being watched in play over here (and not just over here, either). It’s a sign of the times, I guess. I know. It’s only paranoia (but I like it).

Oh. This suddenly reminded me of some old lyrics (sort of) to Frank Zappa’s Didja Get Any Onya?

…Years ago in Germany when I was a very small boy, zere was a lot of people standing around on ze corners asking questions: “Why are you standing on ze corner, acting ze way you act, looking like you look? WHY DO YOU LOOK THAT WAY?” And they ask me and I only would say: “I don’t . . . I don’t know, I’m just standing ’round ze corner waiting here . . . just in . . . in ze evening, and . . . and it’s so nice outside . . . the night is so nice . . . why . . . are you just asking these questions . . . ”

“Offenbar scheint eine notorische Neigung zu bestehen, Nachbarn zu überwachen. Und eine pathologische Befürchtung, überwacht zu werden.”

Privacy Concern Has Its Price

And in this case it will be about 300,000 euros per day.

European authorities have taken Germany to court for failing to implement the E.U. Data Retention Directive.

The European Commission announced on Thursday that it wants the European Court of Justice to impose a fine of just over €315,000 (US$391,866) a day.

The Data Retention Directive requires telephone companies and ISPs to store huge amounts of telecommunications information, including data about email, phone calls and text messages, for law enforcement purposes.

So much for Germany being the Musterschüler (model student) in all things EU. Germans don’t like this law because they live in a POLICE STATE or something (albeit one that’s all in their minds). It’s not that Germans don’t trust their fellow Germans or anything, you see, it’s just that they don’t trust their fellow Germans.

Hey, they should know. Where there’s smoke there’s fire and all that? I guess I’d pay up, too.

Weil Berlin geltendes EU-Gesetz über die Vorratsdatenspeicherung nicht in nationales Recht übertragen hat, hat die EU-Kommission Deutschland vor dem Europäischen Gerichtshof verklagt.

Vorratsdatenspeicherung

Is that a German word, or what?

And it looks like it’s a word that’s going to cost Germany millions in fines for not being willing to go along with the guidelines concerning it as determined by the EU.

I mean, we all know that Vorratsdatenspeicherung is a touchy subject and all. Some countries do their Vorratsdatenspeicherung this way, other countries do their Vorratsdatenspeicherung that way. But any way you cut the Vorratsdatenspeicherung cake, Vorratsdatenspeicherung is Vorratsdatenspeicherung and I, for one, find it irresponsible of Germany to just ignore the EU’s Vorratsdatenspeicherung guidelines like that, just because they’re Germany, I mean. All Europeans are in the same Vorratsdatenspeicherung boat, after all.

Who do they think they are, anyway?

You should be ashamed of yourself, Germany. Put that in your Vorratsdatenspeicherung pipe and smoke it.

“Was wir auf den ersten Blick sagen können ist, dass Deutschland anscheinend keinen Fortschritt bei der Umsetzung der EU-Richtlinie zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung gemacht hat und weiterhin EU-Recht verletzt.”

PS: Vorratsdatenspeicherung means data retention (the EU wants to retain data for six months, Germany doesn’t).

German Computer Clouds Don’t Stink

I mean float. At least not across the German border, they don’t.

Germans being pathalogically hypersensitive whenever it comes to data protection issues, whether they be actual issues or not, Deutsche Telekom has cleverly exploited these wildly popular fears during this year’s CeBIT technology fair by suggesting to “the 3.6 million prosperous German small and medium sized firms who have not yet taken the leap to storing their data using cloud computing” that their “German cloud” can offer them the safety and security that those leaky and toxic foreign clouds could never offer them – even if those foreign clouds wanted to offer them safety and security in the first place which, of course, they don’t.

Telekom’s cloud – some 30 datacenters spread across Germany – is, well, spread across Germany, so nothing can ever possibly go wrong, one Telekom spokesman tells us. “And we are not playing on peoples’ fears, either” another spokesman added. “It’s just that when servers are situated outside of Germany there is a risk that companies will use your data for commercial purposes or, worse, they will be spied on by the secret services.”

Let’s all sing together: Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you’re always afraid. You step out of line, the man come and take you away…

This will be “a cloud computer model for the German market and in the German language.” Made for Germans. By Germans. In Germany.