What happened online? September 2016

Dusty Spiral NGC 3370 / Credit: NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team and A. Riess (STScI)

01/09 After being green-lit by the European Commission, the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) allows German Telekom to launch the controversial VDSL2 Vectoring transmission in their quest to drive on broadband expansion. This was roundly criticized by competitors. Vectoring’s technical requirements mean only one provider has use of copper cable for broadband access.

02/09 The German General Protection Credit Agency (Schufa) offers victims of identity theft the chance to register personal data in order to protect against repeated misuse. This is then made available to businesses, enabling them to get in touch with customers before conclusion of contracts.

07/09 The European Court of Justice rules that those buying computers have no right to merely purchase pure hardware. Pre-installation of operating systems or other programs is thereby still permitted.

08/09 In order to combat terrorism, the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) as well as the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) plans three-figure million investments for the coming year. 73 million Euro alone are set aside by the BND for further projects relating to communication surveillance.

08/09 According to a European Court of Justice ruling, commercial website operators, if providing links to copyright controlled material (music, photos, lyrics etc.), must first verify whether these were published legally. If they fail to, damages can be incurred.

14/09 Hackers publish the medical data of numerous US Rio Olympics athletes, aiming to prove doping violations. The data originated from hard drives of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

14/09 EU commissioners Andrus Ansip and Günther Oettinger present guidelines for a modern copyright law. The guidelines permit a EU-wide license to be issued, rather than every member state having to get one specific to their country. Critics also bemoan a twenty-year ancillary copyright law for publishers that would require providers themselves to filter out breaches of copyright.

17/09 Twenty-five years ago today, Linus Torvalds releases the first version of the Linux operating system.

20/09 An Open Access strategy launched by the German Federal Ministry for Research (Bundesforschungsministerium) envisages that in future, all tax-funded research projects should be accessible online free of charge.

21/09 According to Holger Munch, Director of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (Bundeskriminalamt), messenger service-providers such as Whatsapp and Signal should be legally obligated to save stock data and make it available to government agencies on request.

21/09 The European Commission agrees that, as of summer 2017, there should (in principle) be no roaming charges within the EU. However, this only applies when using a SIM card from the user’s country of residence. They hope to hinder users deliberately signing contracts in countries offering lower prices.

21/09 Witnesses questioned by the NSA Investigation Panel (NSA-Untersuchungsausschuss) repeatedly explain that mobile phone numbers do not allow an accurate enough location for targeting by drone strike. Hannes Federrath, Hamburg Professor of Informatics, arrives at a different conclusion. He speaks of one technique providing an accuracy level of 5 to 35 metres.

22/09 According to a current Twitter transparency report, state agencies lodged around 5,000 account-delete requests in the last half-year; over 4,000 came from Russia and Turkey. 63 requests came from Germany.

23/09 The German Federal Assembly (Bundesrat) passes a law requiring operators of public mains suppliers to install glass fibre cables, other broadband apparatus, or at least ductwork when renovating or constructing electrical or waste water systems.

27/09 Johannes Caspar, Hamburg’s Data Protection commissioner forbids Facebook’s replication of Whatsapp user data by means of a court order. Already transmitted data must be deleted. At the same time, the European Commission examines re-instigation of the merger control procedure. In 2014, Facebook bought Whatsapp for 19 billion Dollars, agreeing that no data exchange would take place.