What happened online? March 2016

Starburst Cluster Shows Celestial Fireworks / Credit: NASA, ESA, R. O‘Connell (University of Virginia), F. Paresce (National Institute for Astrophysics, Bologna, Italy), E. Young (Universities Space Research Association/ Ames Research Center), the WFC3 Science Oversight Committee, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)This Hubble Space Telescope image was captured in August 2009 and December 2009 with the Wide Field Camera 3 in both visible and infrared light, which trace the glow of sulfur, hydrogen, and iron.

01/03 Germany’s Federal Court decides that in the future, in cases of conflict, doctor evaluation portals must demand concrete proof from their users that they were really treated by the doctor whom they have rated. This will apply in cases where a doctor objects to a bad rating on a doctor evaluation portal because they have not, to their knowledge, treated the patient in question.

02/03 Following the German Federal Prosecutor, which dropped their investigation of Netzpolitik.org for treason in August 2015, the Berlin State Prosecutor has also terminated their investigation into the unknown source of leaked documents. The perpetrator, who was being sought for breaching professional secrecy, could not be uncovered.

03/03 The digital networking of gadgets of all kinds is a booming market. The Germany company Bosch alone has stated that over the course of this year they will employ 14,000 graduates, above all software specialists.

03/03 For the first time, the digital currency Bitcoin reached the limit of its capacity. The limit is up to seven transactions per second. Because this limit was exceeded by a wide margin, many users had to wait several hours, or even days, until the backlog had been cleared.

03/03 The German music market is expanding. Since 2015 it has seen a turnover of 1.5 million Euros, and is still growing. The market share of music streaming is 14.4 percent—more than double the figure for 2014. Despite falling figures, CD sales still make up over 60 percent of total revenues.

04/03 Consumer advocates, regulators and companies have agreed on a ten-point plan to make internet comparison sites more transparent. So, for example, advertising should be much more clearly marked in the future, and user ratings should be checked for authenticity.

07/03 In implementing the “right to be forgotten”, in accordance with a judgement of the European Court of Justice in May 2015, Google is now purging its results lists, even if the US version of the search engine is used. This only applies, however, if the search query comes from the EU.

07/03 The US Supreme Court does not want to rule in the e-book dispute between Apple and the US Justice Department. The matter is to be settled out of court, with Apple due to pay $450 million for anti-competitive pricing.

12/03 Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democrats, CDU) stresses the importance of data for society. She calls it “the raw material of the 21st Century”. Merkel says that Germany must prepare for a global race to exploit data’s economic value.

14/03 In Germany, the governing coalition of Social Democrats and Christian Democrats agree that in the future the Federal police should wear small bodycams. Since the introduction of the measure in Hessen and Rhineland Palatinate, there has been a fall in the number of attacks on police forces.

16/03 Federal Minister for the Economy Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) talks at the Cebit technology fair about plans to create a “special digital authority”. However, he has so far only received support for the idea from Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas (Social Democrats, SPD).

17/03 The Munich Higher Regional Court sentences a former German Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) employee to eight years imprisonment for treason. The 32 year-old had spied for the CIA and also offered FIS documents to the Russian secret services.

18/03 The proposal to expand broadband provision for “digital high-speed networks” meets with general approval in the German Federal Assembly [Bundesrat], which nevertheless demands amendments. In particular, the Assembly objects to imprecise cost forecasts.

18/03 The German Federal Administrative Court rules that mandatory TV license fees are constitutional. The complainants had objected that the requirement to pay the fee was unjustified and unconstitutional, as they did not own devices that could receive broadcasts other than a radio. Their only option now is to appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court.

21/03 The micro-blogging site Twitter started ten years ago today. The first message was written by founder Jack Dorsey: “just setting up my twttr”.

28/03 In a dispute with Apple over the decryption of one of the San Bernadino attackers’ iPhones, the FBI no longer needs the company’s support, as it has found an alternative approach. The court order on Apple is to be lifted.