Germany vs The Internet

Lots of ruckus has been made over the past few months, including here on this blog, about Europe’s reaction to Facebook, Google Streetview and the like.  It finally took a self-promotional e-mail from a professional acquaintance  to get my ire up enough to actually write about it.

The ire inducing part didn’t have much to do with my acquaintance directly.  It was that the “people who you might know” section along the bottom which is designed to get us connected was eerily accurate.  All but one were, in fact, people I knew.

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No Google Street View in Germany and Austria?

Today’s blog is inspired by two recent events in Germany: (1) The vehement opposition to Google Street View from some Germans and Austrians, and (2) the March 2, 2010 German Federal Constitutional Court decision that overturned a law that allowed government authorities to store telephone call and email data for up to six months, for possible use by the police and security agencies. The court ruled that the law was a “grave intrusion” of personal privacy rights.

One day not so long ago in Berlin I learned how seriously some Germans take their personal privacy. I was walking around shooting some photos of typical everyday, non-tourist scenes of life in Berlin, when I saw a new wing of a hospital that looked architecturally interesting. There was also a small courtyard with trees and benches where patients and visitors could get some fresh air. I was on a public sidewalk, far enough away so that any people in the scene would really not be recognizable. About a split second after taking my first shot, some guy in a robe sitting on one of the benches stands up and starts screaming and cursing at me in English with a German accent. (All photographers are Ausländer?) Continue reading