Die Verharmloser

“The harmlessers.” Pejorative hurled in June 2013 at ruling-coalition German politicians who said the U.S.A.’s spying on domestic and international emails, phone calls, video chats, text chats and search histories, in addition to snail mail, in-house company computer networks, the ubiquitous traffic and security cameras in public spaces, and even medical, financial and toll records, is okay with them. Even if this data was used to track and kill people via extralegal drone assassination.

German media have also said the ruling coalition is “talking the N.S.A. problem small,” “veiling” and “down-moderating” it, using “placating” and “appeasing” language to angry voters, especially but not exclusively before the Bundestag election on 22 Sep 2013. Data protection officers remain unappeased, vociferously warning about these issues at their national meetings. Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck invited federal data protection officer Peter Schaar to discuss the problem and its implications at the presidential palace of Bellevue on 06 Sep 2013.

Spiegel.de reminds us the imbroglio includes tapping international fiber optic cables, forcing companies to give up their customers’ data, commissioning back doors in software and hardware advertised as secure and the N.S.A. and G.C.H.Q.’s ability to use brute computing force to break encryption. Presumably satellite communications aren’t immune either.

U.S. government intelligence agencies are also spreading this behavior around the world like an antidemocratic virus to friends, neutrals and foes alike as they share technology and illicitly-gathered information with allied intelligence agencies, pay telecoms and cable companies to codevelop snoop technology and render services and outsource much of their own sensitive work to private-sector companies. Non-allied countries will feel forced to invest in similar strategies as well. Companies are being perfectly reasonable if they decide to sell to everybody. Ignoring even light regulation sets a poor example and paves the way for disaster under bad leadership, anywhere in the world.

(Dee   feh HOM loze ah.)

Unabhängiger Revisor für die Terrorismusgesetzgebung

The U.K.’s “independent reviewer of terrorism legislation,” who is looking into the police’s invocation of Britain’s “antiterror” laws when they interrogated David Miranda for nine hours without a lawyer after he tried to change planes at Heathrow—a difficult connection airport even when you’re not terrorized by authorities. They confiscated Mr. Miranda’s computer, phone and all other electronic gear.

David Anderson, Q.C., has also been called “U.K. Terror Law Watchdog” in English-language headlines.

(OON ob HENG iggah   reVISor   foor   dee   tare or IZ moose geh ZETZ gay boong.)

Buchstabensalat

“Alphabet salad.” What investigators will supposedly find if they tap the now-encrypted uploads to Kim Dotcom’s new venture.

(BOO! chh SHTOB en zah LAHT.)

“Man muss dafür nicht genial sein. Facebook bietet einfach zuviele Angriffspunkte. Und irgendeiner muss es ja machen.”

“You don’t have to be a genius to do this. Facebook offers simply too many points vulnerable to attack. And someone’s got to do it.”

Words from Viennese law student Max Schrems, who with “Europe vs. Facebook,” a group of about a dozen people, is working to get Facebook into better compliance with European data protection laws. After the Irish authorities declined to follow up on complaints Schrems filed, the group is now crowdfunding a lawsuit against the European authorities responsible for regulating the social networking company. They can’t sue the company itself, only its European regulators; but this lawsuit could be appealed all the way to the European Court of Justice. The group estimates the lawsuit will cost about 300,000 euros, of which they’ve collected 20,000 euros since the campaign started last week. Schrems’s legal activism uses 1200 pages of information collected by fb about him and his network of friends, including all his deleted posts, that he received from fb two years ago. He was inspired to request his data from the company after hearing an “absurd” presentation by one of its employees during a study abroad semester in Silicon Valley.

Anti-Terror-Datei

Central federal file of police and intelligence services’ information about potential and actual terrisss but also possibly about innocent burghers. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has said this central file is Germany’s most important tool in the fight against tare. The “anti-terror file” is now being evaluated by the highest court (Bundesverfassungsgericht, Federal Constitutional Court) to see whether it violates the German Civil Code. Questions also include what information goes into the file and which German institutions and foreign intelligence services have access to it.

(AUNTie   TERRor   dot EYE.)

Regulierte Selbstregulierung

The German Interior Ministry, headed by Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU), has called for the EU to take a “regulated self-regulation” policy with regard to data privacy.

(RAY goo leer teh   ZELBST ray goo leer oong.)

Gläserne Abgeordnete

“Transparent parliament members.” What the CDU/CSU wants to avoid, which is why they oppose full disclosure of Bundestag members’ supplementary income. The CDU/CSU is concerned that full disclosure of supplementary incomes would make it more difficult for middle-sized businesspeople to become M.P.’s. The FDP is worried about protecting lawyers’ privacy.

(GLAY zer neh   OB geh ord net teh.)

Ein erfolgreicher Rechtsanwalt

“A successful attorney.” Interesting recent story about the North Rhine-Westphalian Pirate Party, summarized from Spiegel-Online’s article. Two neighboring Pirate Party groups in the region were having a bitter dispute. The Gelsenkirchen group finally wrote to the state Pirate Party complaining that their foe group had neonazi propaganda materials in its possession. (The German Pirate Party voted at its last national meeting to be against right-wing stuff, despite their core interest in freedom of opinion.) The state party confronted the foe party, which “credibly” refuted the accusations. And hired a lawyer. The lawyer asked the state PP for the original correspondence, including all names. The NRW Pirates voted not to share this information. Spiegel says that, according to the German Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz), the Pirates also should not have shared this information because no government offices are investigating the matter and because they don’t have permission to share it.

Klaus Hammer was the political director (Politischer Geschäftsführer) of the North Rhine-Westphalian Pirate Party. He is a 45-year-old IT worker who’s been involved with the PP for several years and has run for office. Last weekend he told the NRW state PP board of directors that despite their decision not to share the information, he had felt “pressured” by the lawyer. He then panicked, he said, and reached an agreement according to which he placed printouts of the emails in a trash bin outside his building. The next day, the printouts were gone.

Klaus Hammer has now been relieved of his political directorship.

(Eye n err FOAL g rye Cher    WRECKED s on vault.)

gläserne Untertanen

“Glassy subjects.” Idea that the government is opaque but its citizens are transparent.

(GLAY zer neh OON ter t ON en.)

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