It’s Called Paranoia

Why is Germany a blank spot on Google’s Street View? See above.

Paranoia

There are good historical reasons why Germans are suspicious of surveillance — but is Google as bad as Gestapo or Stasi?

It’s to do with Germans’ curious sense of privacy: they’d rather flaunt their private parts than their personal data…

While public nudity is a big no-no in the United States for example, Germany has a long tradition with what is known as FKK – short for Freikörperkultur, or “Free Body Culture.” Certain beaches and areas of city parks are dedicated to nude sunbathing, and even Nacktwanderung (“nude rambling”) is a thing.

On the other hand, Germans are extremely possessive of their personal data — and are shocked by the readiness with which Americans (and others) share their names, addresses, friends’ lists, and purchase histories online.

According to research presented in the Harvard Business Review, the average German is willing to pay as much as $184 to protect their personal health data. For the average Brit, the privacy of that information is only worth $59. For Americans and Chinese, that value declines to single-digit figures.

Whatever Is Not Expressly Allowed

Is verboten. In Germany. If you’re Facebook, Google, Amazon, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and Co., that is.

Facebook

Recognize a pattern here? They’re all American companies and they’re all “free” to use. The Germans, of all people, surely must have figured out by now that nothing is ever for free. But they haven’t.

GERMAN REGULATORS JUST OUTLAWED FACEBOOK’S WHOLE AD BUSINESS – FACEBOOK’S MASSIVELY LUCRATIVE advertising model relies on tracking its one billion users—as well as the billions on WhatsApp and Instagram—across the web and smartphone apps, collecting data on which sites and apps they visit, where they shop, what they like, and combining all that information into comprehensive user profiles. Facebook has maintained that collecting all this data allows the company to serve ads that are more relevant to users’ interests. Privacy advocates have argued that the company isn’t transparent enough about what data it has and what it does with it. As a result, most people don’t understand the massive trade-off they are making with their information when they sign up for the “free” site.

“We disagree with their conclusions and intend to appeal so that people in Germany continue to benefit fully from all our services.”

European Data Security Just Got More Secure

So secure that not even your mailman, friends or family will be able to find you anymore.

Datenschutz

Europeans want secure data. So you can imagine how thrilled everybody is about this latest development.

The city of Vienna has determined that name tags in apartment houses are a violation of the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). After a renter complained about the lack of proper data security, some 220,000 renters will lose the name tags next to their doorbells.

In Wien verlieren etwa 220.000 Mieterinnen und Mieter die Namensschilder an ihren Türklingeln, weil ein Bewohner sich über mangelnden Datenschutz beklagt hatte.

US-Amerikan Gas Conspiracy In Full Swing

German survey time – and no Russian influence here, either. Honest: BASF-owned Wintershall, one of Gazprom’s closest upstream partners and backer of its Nord Stream 2 project, has published results of a survey which it says indicate that most Germans not only oppose an expansion of US sanctions against Russia but also prefer Russian gas to US LNG.

LNG

More than three-quarters (77 percent) believe that the US is attempting to bolster its own economic interests in the European natural gas market… The survey also showed that the vast majority of Germans (83 percent) reject the planned increase in US economic sanctions, which would also restrict the actives of German and European companies. Only seven percent considered criticism of planned US sanctions as exaggerated.

“Whereas half the Germans surveyed support a further diversification of the natural gas provision, only six percent want more imports of US LNG,”

Russia Feels Germany’s Puzzlement

Speaking at an event in Berlin’s Hotel Adlon, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov could not agree more with German concern for the growing anti-Russian sentiment in Europe and around the world, explaining to understanding listeners that it is all just another anti-Russian conspiracy orchestrated by Washington, the UN, the EU, NATO,  the International Association of Youth Hypnotists, the Society for the Prevention of Plate Tectonics, the Animal Voting Rights Defense League and many, many, many others.

Russia

“Russia bashing these days is just as much a mystery to me as it is to you Germans,” Lavrov said. “Our annexation of the Crimea has long been forgotten, as have our countless bloody covert operations in Ukraine and the open bullying of our Baltic neighbors that is still going on. Our ongoing atrocities in Syria are second page news. And who cares anymore about our relentless and highly sophisticated hacker attacks all over the world, the ones we never committed, I mean? Nor is Germany’s dependence upon Russian gas of any concern to anyone, much less you here in Germany. It’s not like it would ever be used to exert political influence or anything. Then there is this recurring myth about our treatment of the political opposition in Russia. Ridiculous. There is no political opposition in Russia. I could go on and on forever but what’s the point? Like I said, this Russia phobia wackiness sure the hell beats me.”

Lawrow beklagt Russophobie in EU und Nato.

This Doll Must Die

Don’t EVER let anybody tell you that Germans are lasch (feeble) when it comes to threats posed to them by foreign intelligence snoops.

Cayla

Forget about not caring about Putin & Co., forget about spinning your wheels ridiculously with your NSA spying affair. We’ve got a real live (sort of) freakin’ wi-fi-connected Internet doll on the loose and we’re all going to die if we don’t kill her first. OK. So we don’t know who she’s working for yet. But still.

A German government watchdog has ordered parents to destroy an internet-connected doll for fear it could be used as a surveillance device. According to a report from BBC News, the German Federal Network Agency said the doll (which contains a microphone and speaker) was equivalent to a “concealed transmitting device” and therefore prohibited under German telecom law…

“My Friend Cayla” uses a microphone to listen to questions, sending this audio over Wi-Fi to a third-party company (Nuance) that converts it to text. This is then used to search the internet, allowing the doll to answer basic questions, like “What’s a baby kangaroo called?”

Why would anybody want to know what a baby kangaroo is called, huh?

And this is just the beginning, too. These wi-fi-thingies will soon be everywhere. “It doesn’t matter what that object is — it could be an ashtray or a fire alarm.” Damn right. So after you’ve finished strangling this doll toss everything else out of the window while you’re at it. Just in case. They’re out to get us, people. They’re everywhere, I tell you. Whoever they are. Bad dolly!

At what point did we enter this Philip K. Dick novel, anyway?

And The Little Girl Was Goose-Stepping, Too

And those Christmas trees covered in snow? Talk about white supremacist symbolism par excellence.

Christmas

Are we having that Christmas spirit yet, Germany? It’s time to find Nazi symbolism in supermarket TV ads that make a pitch for spending more time with your children during the holidays. Seek and you shall find, I always say. But don’t forget to take your medication regularly, I also always say.

A Volvo shown in the 84-second clip has the number plate MU SS 420. “SS” is forbidden on German number plates because it is synonymous with the Schutzstaffel, the Nazis’ paramilitary “protection squadron”. The number 420 is a common abbreviation – especially in far-right circles in the US – for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s birthday, 20 April.

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?'”

How Do You Want Your ID?

Rare to non-existent, many Germans will tell you. They place them in microwaves here to destroy the RFID chips inside, you see.

Or boil them – if they’re paranoid about microwave ovens, too.

Otherwise most of these folks appear to be able to live normal, somewhat productive lives.

When it comes to privacy, Germans can’t take a joke. After it was revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency had intercepted calls in Germany, sales of old-school typewriters were reported to have skyrocketed, as some Germans assumed that sending letters might make communications surveillance harder for U.S. officials.

It’s not only American surveillance that Germans are concerned about, however. On Tuesday, a 29-year old man was arrested at Frankfurt Airport after authorities noticed that he had microwaved his German identification card, reported German news agency dpa.