Datenschutz, German Politics, Germany, internet, privacy

“The privacy and integrity of information processing systems”

Striking down state (Land) legislation from Nordrhein-Westfalia that allowed the use of trojan software to spy on individual’s computers, the German constitutional court (Bundesvrfassungsgericht) has derived from the fundamental legal premises of the German constutiton a new basic right to “privacy and integrity of information processing systems” (my quick and dirty translation). As a basic right, it can only be infringed given very specific circumstances – in this case, the court explicitly mentioned “specific” threats to the life and liberty of individuals, or “concrete” threats to the state.

It will obviously depend on legislative interpretations of the court’s ruling to see whether it’s possible to speak of a “loophole” in the basic right, as Spiegel Online English does. My guess is not, as politicians will not want to get slapped in the face by the Constitutional Court again, and the court will rule on two more privacy related cases soon.

While the court’s ruling will have to be studied in detail to understand its intentions more clearly, this is clearly a landmark decision with respect to the question of how to balance the state’s desire to gather information to protect its citizens and ensure the rule of law with the citizens’ right to privacy.

The Chaos Computer Club’s Andreas Bogk’s, who serves as an expert at the court, likenes the verdict to the census ruling in 1983, which derived a basic right to informational self determination and paved the way for privacy protection legislation. (German) has everything and then another link and quote regarding the verdict and the unfolding media coverage.

Some more links in English – BBC, WSJ, Bloomberg.

internet, quicklink, web 2.0

The digital divides.

The internet is certainly bringing people closer together. But it’s really more – some people than all people. Digital Inspiration has a couple of interesting visualisations of the current (well, recent) global digital divide. It’s also quite interesting to see which parts of the world are using which social networking service (add. diagram by LeMonde)


A Most Handy Little Tool.

Gentle readers, I would like to tell you about a most handy little information management tool that I found by chance – it’s called iMarkup. Completely integrated into IE, it allows to highlight and annotate any webpage – on that very page. And it remembers the highlighted parts and annotations when you return to the page later on. If it is really as usable as I think it will be, the days of printing web pages simply for the added benefits of active reading will be gone.

But there’s always room for improvement. So in case someone at iMarkup reads this – here’s some client input! What I’d really like is a highlighting and annotation tool integrated in a content organiser like Onfolio – and I want it to be able to handle large amounts of information (like my two million bookmarks) without any perceptible delay… OK?

media, quicklink, USA

Is Google God?

Thomas Friedman must have had too much sun lately. In today’s NY Times column he wonders if Google is like God citing citing Alan Cohen, a V.P. of Airespace, a new Wi-Fi provider, who clearly had too much sun lately –

“If I can operate Google, I can find anything. And with wireless, it means I will be able to find anything, anywhere, anytime. Which is why I say that Google, combined with Wi-Fi, is a little bit like God. God is wireless, God is everywhere and God sees and knows everything. Throughout history, people connected to God without wires. Now, for many questions in the world, you ask Google, and increasingly, you can do it without wires, too.”

How he twists that story to say something about American national security is rather impressive. But how he does that and nonetheless misses the real point that ITC is not only challenging “national security” but the very notion of “national” is even more impressive.


What’s the real deal?

Apple’s new G5 64-bit PowerPC is the new hot babe in town since, as Wired explains, –

“For the past couple of years, Mac users have been burdened with a shameful secret few would admit, even to themselves. Their machines were slower than Windows PCs.”

While pure computing power was never what made people admire Apple’s products, it seems Apple’s pricing policy and stagnant market-share somehow compelled the company to get back into the Megaflop comparison business. But computing speed comparisons are a rather tricky business, so its no wonder, Apple’s claims to have the “fastet ever” personal computer have been severely scrutinzed today. Here’s what the register says about the benchmarks. And this is a report by Eugenia Loli-Queru from OSnews that is entitled “Innovation or Catch Up?

almost a diary, self-referential


My (main) computer is still experiencing an extreme amount of unwarranted file-system induced “strokes”. Keeping it running and online long enough to write this is as good as it gets today. Hopefully, I’ll be able to fix this tomorrow. If anyone has any idea why my system (Win98SE) suddenly crashes all the time – and certainly when copying files larger than, say, 5 Mbytes from one partition or physical drive to another – please let me know. Ah, it’s not a virus, according to AntiVir.


It’s A Big Deal

although it’s actually only 30m. The city of Munich’s decision to use Linux not just on its servers but on all the 14,000 city computers, despite a personal marketing (and allegedly price-cut) intervention by MS CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this year, is almost unanimously interpreted as a huge blow to Microsoft’s grip on the market. Cynthia L. Webb of the Washington Post even calls her press survey “The Munich Revolution”.