What happened online? April 2016

Hubble WFC3 im NGC 6302, planetary nebula in Scorpius Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

01/04 Apple Computer Inc. was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne 40 years ago.

03/04 The Süddeutsche Zeitung publishes the “Panama Papers”. They reveal a network of letterbox companies and funding streams for tax avoidance on a previously unknown level. The 11.5 million pieces of data, including nearly 5 million emails, were evaluated for a year by over 400 journalists worldwide.

07/04 Unknown parties publish the personal data of 55 million voters in the Philippines. Only a few days before, data on around 50 million Turkish citizens who registered for the 2008 elections was leaked.

10/04 Windows XP is still the third most-used computer operating system worldwide. Even two years after Microsoft discontinued support for the system, Windows XP has remained at third place with a share of 10.9 percent, behind Windows 7 and Windows 10.

14/04 The European Parliament passes the General Data Protection Regulation. It is intended to create a common level of data protection across the whole EU, and replaces the Data Protection Directive of 1995. It will enter into effect on 25 May 2018.

15/04 German state transport ministers call for “comprehensive, 24-hour video recording in public transport”. They call for data protection rules to be amended to accommodate new the regulations.

18/04 The US Supreme Court refuses to endorse the claim of the Authors’ Guild against the Google Books book-scanning project. This ends a ten-year legal battle and means that Google Books is legal in the USA.

19/04 The German states of Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania sign an agreement to jointly monitor telecommunications from a centre in Hannover. The aim is to combine expertise and reduce costs.

20/04 After much deliberation, the Federal Constitutional Court rules that parts of the BKA law are unconstitutional. This law would give the German Federal Criminal Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA) new powers in hunting terrorists. Despite criticism of various aspects of the law, it remains substantially in force. Legislators have until mid-2018 to correct the law.

20/04 The EU Commission accuses Google of abusing its dominant market position. The company imposed restrictions on manufacturers of Android devices and ensured that the Google search function was pre-installed on most devices, denying competitors access to the market.

20/04 Finland leads the Reporters Without Borders press freedom rankings. Switzerland and Austria are in places 7 and 11; Germany follows in 16th place. The USA is ranked 41. Russia comes in at number 148, closely followed by Turkey at 151. A the bottom of the list is Eritrea.

21/04 Following the decision of the European Parliament, the EU Council now passes the Flight Passenger Data Directive. This means that EU member states must save various kinds of passengers’ data for five years, including credit card numbers and food orders. All member states seek to collect data from inter-European as well as transcontinental flights.

25.04 “Our goal must be to have the best digital infrastructure in the world by 2025 with gigabyte networks”, according to Federal Minister for the Economy Sigmar Gabriel (SPD). This is to be paid for by a 300 billion Euro fund from the EU.

26.04 German Federal Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) presents her plans to create a new “Cyberspace and Information” unit in the next five years. This would see 13,500 soldiers and civilian workers protecting Federal networks against increasingly frequent attacks.

26.04 The Indian government has decreed that from 2017, manufacturers must equip every new telephone with an emergency call button. This measure is aimed at better protecting women.

27/04 The city of Erfurt has fitted all of its 76 trams with free wireless internet. Every user receives a daily data limit of 50 megabytes. In order to use the service, all passengers have to do is agree to the terms of use.