What happened online? October 2016

Ancient Planet in a Globular Cluster Core / Credit: NASA, Brad Hansen (UCLA), Harvey Richer (UBC), Steinn Sigurdsson (Penn State), Ingrid Stairs (UBC), and Stephen Thorsett (UCSC).

01/10 According to a recent survey, one out of every four internet users in Germany uses a fitness app or device while walking, jogging, or on the way to work.

01/10 The US government hands over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), internet infrastructure’s administrative heart, to the non-profit organization Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

01/10 A revised version of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media comes into effect in Germany. Among other new provisions, providers of online services are now required to append a filter-software compatible age classification.

04/10 Ten years ago, Julian Assange registered the domain Wikileaks.org. Since then, the platform has published more than 10 million secret documents. From his exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange announces a new round of disclosures to celebrate the anniversary.

09/10 Johanna Wanka (CDU), German Federal Minister of Education and Research, calls for a digital agreement for schools between the federal and state governments in Germany. According to this proposal, the federal government would pledge five billion Euro in order to outfit every German school with computers and WLAN. For their part, state governments would need to develop digital education concepts and train teachers accordingly.

11/10 After multiple devices overheat and catch fire, Samsung entirely gives up on its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. Production is ceased, and customers who return their devices are given full refunds.

12/10 According to a survey conducted by the public-service television providers ARD and ZDF, 83.8 percent of Germans over 14 use the Internet at least “intermittently”, corresponding to 58 million people. This is two million more than in 2015.

13/10 The European Court of Justice rules that used computer software can be sold with an unlimited use license, but only on the original storage medium and not a backup copy.

14/10 The German parliamentary committee charged with overseeing the secret service (the G10 commission) is defeated on formal grounds by the Federal Constitutional Court. The committee had filed suit to gain access to the list of “selectors” used by the Federal Intelligence Service in internet surveillance programs. According to the judges’ ruling, however, the commission did not have a right of action in bringing the suit.

14/10 Germany’s Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), names Major General Ludwig Leinhos as head of a new German military cyber-task force, to begin operations on April 1, 2017.

19/10 The European Court of Justice rules that under certain conditions, dynamically assigned IP addresses qualify as personal data, and are thus subject to data-protection laws. The ruling applies to situations in which website operators avail themselves of the legal means by which to acquire an IT address-holder’s identity. In Germany this is possible when, for example, an operator presses charges against the user of a particular IP address.

19/10 The Ecuadorean embassy in London cuts off Julian Assange’s internet access as disclosure platform Wikileaks publishes numerous documents appearing to influence the 2016 US election. Assange’s asylum is not affected, however. He has been living in the embassy since 2012.

20/10 According to a recent study, the face of at least every second US citizen is saved in a database, and can therefore be used by facial recognition software.

21/10 30 years ago, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) published its first party-commissioned expert report. At the time, Germany’s Green Party wanted to know more about how the work of a political party could be influenced by computers. Since then, the CCC has evolved into an important advisory body to policymakers.

21/10 Germany’s federal parliament passes a law authorizing the Federal Intelligence Service to surveil any internet traffic passing through German territory consisting of “telecommunications by foreigners”, thus providing a legal basis for already established practice.

23/10 Fifteen years ago today, Apple’s then CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPod, unleashing a revolution in the way people listen to music.

25/10 “From now on, everything will be easier.” Fifteen years ago, Microsoft introduced Windows XP with this slogan. Even though Microsoft stopped providing support for XP in 2014, it remains the world’s most widespread operating system.

27/10 The EU Parliament passes guidelines requiring public institutions such as local authorities, hospitals, courts, etc. to design barrier-free websites, allowing the elderly and people with hearing and sight disabilities to access their online content more easily.

28/10 The EU Commission announces that Günther Oettinger will be taking over the responsibilities of the Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources. Whether he will retain his position in charge of the Department of Digital Economy and Society remains to be seen.


“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!