What happened online? January 2016

Hubble WFC3 image of a stellar jet in Carina, observed in ultraviolet/visible light / NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

04/01 The CDU politician Andrea Voßhoff is now Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI), an independent supreme Federal authority. While enjoying freedom from legal or administrative supervision at the hands of the federal government, the Commissioner is still not able to issue sanctions.

06/01 The German Federation of Consumer Organizations (vzbv) rebukes Google for its new data protection declaration. Google reserves the right to analyze users’ emails, amongst other things, in order to personalize the advertising they see.

07/01 The Berlin District Court rules that a Facebook account can be bequeathed in a will. Facebook is obliged to give the parents of a dead girl access to her account.

11/01 The German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) resumes cooperation with the American National Security Agency at the Bad Aibling field station. The American secret service will continue to hand over its search terms (selectors), but must now be able to justify them. Until now, no request from the NSA had been declined.

13/01 According to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Hungarian Surveillance Act is in breach of the Convention on Human Rights. The law allows, among other things, for every person’s communications to be individually monitored in Hungary.

14/01 Ernst Uhrlau, former head of the BND, speaking before the German parliamentary committee investigating NSA surveillance practices, expresses doubt regarding the statement of the former Chancellery Chief of Staff, Thomas de Maizière (CDU), that he was not informed about the termination of the BND-NSA collaboration “Eikonal”.

01.15 15 years ago Editor-in-Chief Larry Sanger heralded the start of the Wikipedia success story with the line: “This is the new Wikipedia”. Today, Wikipedia contains more than 36 million articles worldwide.

15/01 The European Commission adopts contentious net neutrality guidelines. These requires its 47 members, on the one hand, to uphold the principle of an open internet, but also states that providers may under some circumstances limit or prioritize the flow of data.

15/01 Facebook has begun to delete anti-immigrant or anti-Islam pages in Germany and the Czech Republic. The company has also signalled its intention to act on hate speech in Germany immediately.

20/01 Over the previous six-month period mobile phone communications were more closely monitored by German investigative authorities than ever before. The German Federal Criminal Police Office alone sent five times as many “silent SMS” messages as in any previous six-month period. Silent SMS messages are not visible to the recipient but reveal connection data which can then be evaluated.

22/01 On the occasion of the 50th World Communications Day, Pope Francis calls for a communication of “compassion” and for believers around the world to be thoughtful about their use of digital communications.

26/01 The German Federal Constitutional Court turns down an emergency motion against data retention. The judges on the Court do not deem a temporary suspension of the retention limit for providers necessary.

28/01 For the first time, artificial intelligence (developed by Google) is able to beat a human opponent in Go, the most difficult and complex board game in the world, without a handicap (i.e. without being granted any advantages).

29/01 The German Bundesrat (Federal Council) passes a law permitting consumer groups and chambers of commerce to object to data protection offenses by companies and to open legal proceedings against them.

30/01 The final conclusion of German security agencies about a hacking attack on the Bundestag (German parliament) in 2015 is that it originated with a Russian spy agency. The investigation against persons unknown on charges of espionage is ongoing.

Khesrau Behroz
Khesrau Behroz

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