What happened online? July 2016

NGC 7635, Bubble Nebula (WFC3) / Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

01/07 Bruno Kahl takes office as new president of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND). The former department head from the Ministry of Finance and close confidant of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), Kahl replaced Gerhard Schindler, who has been retired by the government in light of the NSA scandal.

02/07 Berliners can communicate with the municipal public order office, anonymously if necessary, using an app. This should permit municipal problems, involving things like refuse or parking issues, to be resolved more expeditiously.

04/07 The UN Human Rights Council issues a resolution against state-wide internet blockades. The judgement states that blocking access to online information represents an offense against freedom of speech. The decision lacks binding force. The council also denounced breaches of the human rights of bloggers and journalists.

05/07 The Home Affairs Committee of the EU Parliament demands that terror websites be deleted or blocked. The Committee recommends that member states implement regulations compelling providers to take more serious action against extremist propaganda.

06/07 The European Parliament passes a Directive on Network and IT System Security. This would oblige companies to report to the authorities failures in security and data protection. EU member states must implement the directive within the next two years by passing appropriate legislation.

06/07 The findings against the source in the #Landesverrat-Affäre (“treason trial”) are presented. In the summer of 2015, André Meister and Markus Beckedahl of Netzpolitik.org were put on trial for publishing documents relating to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence service. Now
Netzpolitik.org has said that it will no longer provide information on its sources. The affair has led to the dismissal of Federal Prosecutor General Harald Range.

07/07 The Bavarian state parliament passes an amendment to the state constitution, granting the Bavarian State Office for Protection of the Constitution access to telephone and internet data records.

08/07 In Switzerland, a move for a referendum on an updated surveillance law already passed by the parliament fails narrowly. Although more than the necessary minimum of 50,000 petition signatures were collected, only 45,000 were collected by the deadline.

08/07 Facebook introduces end-to-end encryption in its Messenger service. All users need to do is choose the individual language to be encrypted. The company also announces that in the future photos and videos can be set with a deletion date.

12/07 After the European Court overturned the “Safe Harbour Convention” last year, the European Commission approves an agreement, negotiated in February, called the “EU-US Privacy Shield”. As a result, from 1 August 2016, a trans-Atlantic exchange of personal data between companies will become legally permitted.

13/07 Across Germany, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) takes co-ordinated action against far-right hate posts online. Many homes are searched in an operation which involves 25 police services across 14 Federal states. The BKA is responding, it says, to “increasing verbal radicalism” online.

13/07 The mobile augmented-reality game Pokémon Go is officially launched in Germany. Pokémon Go is a resounding success. In July 2016, more than 45 million people were busy collecting the pocket monsters on their smartphones.

18/07 Today is the deadline of the open consultation on European net neutrality. On the website Savetheinternet.eu, users can weigh in on the question of net neutrality. 510,385 comments were submitted.

23/07 Wikileaks begins publishing leaked information on the US Democratic Party campaign team, including revelations of potential tactics in the 2016 campaign. The platform promises more publications to come.

28/07 New guidelines issued by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB)—the “rules for dealing with media, advertising and social media”—forbid commercial providers from any kind of mention, retweet, hashtag, etc. mentioning the “Olympic Games”. Doing so would risk receiving a warning from the Olympic Committee and their legal team.

“Das Netz – digitalization and Society. English edition” gathers writers, activists, scientists, politicians and entrepreneurs to think about the developments of our digital life. More than 50 contributions reflect on the digital transformation of society. It is available as a free PDF. Download here!