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German Chancellor Proposes European Communications Network 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-internets-need-borders dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to build a European communication network to keep data transmission away from the United States. She plans to discuss the issue with French President Francois Hollande. "Merkel said in her weekly podcast that she disapproved of companies such as Google and Facebook basing their operations in countries with low levels of data protection while being active in countries such as Germany with high data protection. 'We'll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection,' Merkel said. 'Above all, we'll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn't have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic. Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe.' Hollande's office confirmed that the governments had been discussing the matter and said Paris agreed with Berlin's proposals."
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German Chancellor Proposes European Communications Network

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  • by fph il quozientatore (971015) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:22AM (#46258761) Homepage
    Angela Merkel: "Screw Obama. I'm going to build my own internet, with blackjack and hookers. And privacy."
    • by Znork (31774)

      Well, she'd better keep it out of Sweden. Apart from the Swedish opinion on hookers and blackjack, the Swedish FRA loves giving all data passing through the country to the NSA. The UK is as bad, although they don't quite share the Swedish hatred of hookers and blackjack.

      Of course, whether any other European security agencies care about their citizens privacy is debatable.

    • by isorox (205688) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:34AM (#46258783) Homepage Journal

      Angela Merkel: "Screw Obama. I'm going to build my own internet, with blackjack and hookers. And privacy."

      And no Beta!

    • by rasmusbr (2186518)

      Angela Merkel: "Screw Obama. I'm going to build my own internet, with blackjack and hookers. And privacy."

      Actual plausible quote: "Damn it, the Americans are good at this snooping business. We need to close the snooping gap ASAP! Communicator, spin this so that it sounds like we care about the privacy of the common guy."

      • by St.Creed (853824)

        Knowing Mrs Merkel's reputation, I'd say the blackjack and hookers quote is more plausible :)

  • bunch of tax wasting bullshit.

    BND & NSA are working together to some extend.

    how is this plan keeping our privacy safe?

    • It is not so much an issue specifically related to privacy, but globally the "Internet" is the "infrastructure" of everything we do... without a powerfull network "in the countries or meta-countries (EU)" over time "everything" migrates to a "cloud" that ends up being where the "biggest, cheapest" infrastructure is i.e. progressivelly the US, and therefore "everything" comes under the reach of the US laws, wich means in effect that for instance "I" end up delegating to US citizens my right to vote, and fran

    • Huh? Not at all, why do you think that's the goal?

      The goal is that the BND can more easily and the NSA less easily spy on you. Well, actually, that the NSA has to ask the BND for your data so they have something to bargain with.

  • Won't this European network just be subject to the same censorship and spying paid for by American and Asian entities, as the current internet is anyway? Are there even any non-American and non-Asian entities capable of implementing and maintaining such a large scale network on their own, including using their own custom built non-American, non-Asian hardware, manufactured in a non-American, non-Asian factory?

    This is a seriously complex undertaking they're suggesting.

    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by petes_PoV (912422) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:56AM (#46258851)

      Are there even any ...

      I think you've missed the whole point of this. The basic problem is that any packets that touch american soil become subject to american surveillance and american law. Even if the data / email / web pages are only transiting, fron one "free" country to another.

      This is clearly unacceptable and since the americans don't have any motivation to fix the problem, the rest of the world (or at least: countries in Europe, at this stage) will just find a way to bypass it.

      As the old saying goes: The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

      • by mapkinase (958129)

        >The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

        In this particular case, it's more of an opposite, since American law enforcement is known for baiting people into committing crimes.

      • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AchilleTalon (540925) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @08:00AM (#46258975) Homepage

        Pretty much studip idea to solve the problem. Encryption is the way to go rather than trying to build a parallel infrastructure which will anyway be subject to laws of the countries where the infrastructure is installed. It doesn't solve anything. It is not like other countries are not spying anyone else.

        In fact, the proposed solution may just create the problem as well. What she propose is what China is building, a network owned by the State, managed by the State and purposedly for the best interest of the State.

      • So everyone gets their own great firewall.
      • The Americans aren't censoring the internet. Duh.
      • by Nutria (679911)

        the rest of the world (or at least: countries in Europe, at this stage) will just find a way to bypass it.

        Not when ordinary Europeans want to use Google & Facebook.

        The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

        While in theory true, that hasn't actually been true in 20 years, if ever.

      • This is clearly unacceptable and since the americans don't have any motivation to fix the problem, the rest of the world (or at least: countries in Europe, at this stage) will just find a way to bypass it.

        And what makes this so funny is that Europe collectively engages in censorship, regulation, and intelligence gathering as well.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Won't this European network just be subject to the same censorship and spying paid for by American and Asian entities, as the current internet is anyway?

      Think of this as an investment: at least they'll have to pay EU for it; the way it stands now, it's free.

      Are there even any non-American and non-Asian entities capable of implementing and maintaining such a large scale network on their own, including using their own custom built non-American, non-Asian hardware, manufactured in a non-American, non-Asian factory?

      Wake up from your exceptionalist dream, buddy. Last I checked, Alcatel is a French company [wikipedia.org] and it's eating Cisco's market [cnn.com] fast.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Wake up from your exceptionalist dream, buddy. Last I checked, Alcatel is a French company and it's eating Cisco's market fast.

        Check again: Alcatel-Lucent (there is no longer an Alcatel) is metanational.

        • by c0lo (1497653)

          Wake up from your exceptionalist dream, buddy. Last I checked, Alcatel is a French company and it's eating Cisco's market fast.

          Check again: Alcatel-Lucent (there is no longer an Alcatel) is metanational.

          You reckon, being metanational, is more american or asian than it is french/european?
          Or... let me put it this way... a metanational able to buy Bell Labs and with the top officers named Michel Combes, Philippe Camus, Ben Verwaayen and HQ in Paris won't be able to deal with an european network paid by Germany/France?

          Context - the point I advancenced was in reply to:

          Are there even any non-American and non-Asian entities capable of implementing and maintaining such a large scale network

  • Merkel's virgin soil (Score:4, Informative)

    by BitterKraut (820348) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:46AM (#46258807)
    Remember, she's the one who called the Internet 'virgin soil' last year. But she's not the only one who has no clue. Every other week some European politician speaks up, demanding billions of tax payer's money to create an independent European IT industry. These noobs really seem to think there'll be a day when they can say, "Look, Obama, we've got our own Intel, we've got our own Microsoft, you can kiss our asses." At the same time, these guys complain that they can't run their offices with Linux: "It's too complicated for our staff. Give us back our Windows XP, our MS Office, our Internet Explorer."
    • by Dr. Evil (3501)

      That's just the opinion of a bitter kraut.

    • by petes_PoV (912422)

      .... we've got our own Intel

      Where have you been for the past couple of years. Haven't you heard of ARM? (Hell, even Intel are using ARM chips in their technology demos)

    • Remember, she's the one who called the Internet 'virgin soil' last year.

      USA's health.gov launch was very mature then?

      As public agencies go, it is a virgin soil. EU wants to transition all of the bureaucracy to electronic form to make it accessible EU-wide. That is something nobody done yet. So yeah, it is virgin soil.

      Every other week some European politician speaks up, demanding billions of tax payer's money to create an independent European IT industry.

      Independent of USA - yes, why not. The investments into R&D around IT industry here in EU wouldn't harm. You see problem from the perspective of newswire headlines. Living in Germany, I see the problem from inside: education system is inadequate and there are

    • by Jappus (1177563) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @09:32AM (#46259213)

      At the same time, these guys complain that they can't run their offices with Linux: "It's too complicated for our staff. Give us back our Windows XP, our MS Office, our Internet Explorer."

      May I remind you of projects like LiMux, which involved bringing the entire Infrastructure of the city of Munich over from Microsoft products to open source products based on and around Linux?

      Projects that instead of failing, succeeded quite well. Where the users -- after an initial grumbling -- not only accepted it, but gave it quite better usability marks than the MS products. Users that are governmental offices, who are not exactly known for quickly embracing new ideas. In a federal state that's Germany's equivalent of Texas in terms of conservativeness.

      So given that this project quite nicely showed that going away from the US Software companies, over to truly international Open Source software is very much feasible, even when you're just using the money you'd have spent on licensing costs anyway year-over-year, what's exactly the holdup?

      Also, before you raise the flag of "lowered productivity", the entire switch-over happened progressively, without impacting users beyond them having to learn a few new clicks and buttons.

      Now, avoiding US-based internet services is also not that hard.

      • There are plenty of European online mail providers.
      • Facebook is for most users also easily replaceable, given that their circle of friends (that they contact more than once a year) is usually entirely local; often less than a few hundred kilometers apart.
      • For video-on-demand, most people don't even know Netflix exists; but can probably name one or two local competitors -- simply because they want their films in their own languages.
      • There are more European online radio stations than you could ever want.
      • Even Slashdot, Digg, Reddit and others have perfectly fine local equivalents.

      This list goes on and one; at least for Europe. Therefore, ignoring US services is only a matter of overcoming complacency, not one of sheer impossibility.

      • At the same time, these guys complain that they can't run their offices with Linux: "It's too complicated for our staff. Give us back our Windows XP, our MS Office, our Internet Explorer."

        May I remind you of projects like LiMux, which involved bringing the entire Infrastructure of the city of Munich over from Microsoft products to open source products based on and around Linux?

        Given the failure of similar projects in other cities it would seem a concerted effort to develop a city solution would greatly help future success. Of course, that means getting bureaucrats across Europe to agree on a standard when it would probably take a year just to agree on a name.

        Projects that instead of failing, succeeded quite well. Where the users -- after an initial grumbling -- not only accepted it, but gave it quite better usability marks than the MS products. Users that are governmental offices, who are not exactly known for quickly embracing new ideas. In a federal state that's Germany's equivalent of Texas in terms of conservativeness.

        In fairness to Bavarians, they also have a bit of the Texan's contrarian and independent streak as well. Heck, they even issue Bavarian passports. So it doesn't surprise me that a state where "die uhern laufen ein bissen and

  • Wrong Emphasis (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:57AM (#46258855)

    The emphasis should be on encryption, not physical infrastructure. You can't audit, control and secure physical infrastructure for an internet, because it is by necessity, spread out across a large physical volume. You definitely can make it uneconomic to analyse the traffic.

    Of course, this is probably an intentional oversight - all that infrastructure work is a great economic stimulus (or "pork barrel project" if you like). Why cloud the picture with reality when you can both spend billions of Euros on a jingoistic boondoggle AND still be able to collect SIGINT from your own people without difficulty?

    • by petes_PoV (912422)
      No, encryption may be unbreakable now, but not in X years time.

      So while it might appear like a solution (today), in the long term it is a failure. All you have to do is store the encrypted data and defer the spying - either on individuals or corporations until such a time as the technology to crack the encryption has progressed, While encryption allows protection up until that time, nobody is in a position to say how long it will be until any particular scheme is compromised. For all we know, ALL current

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        All you have to do is store the encrypted data and defer the spying - either on individuals or corporations until such a time as the technology to crack the encryption has progressed

        Is that all? Just wait until the information goes stale? petes_PoV, SOOPER GENIUS

  • Living in Germany, Snowden leaks didn't bother me much (and as I've heard from "Piraten Partei" member, most voters don't care either). I'm of no interests to secret services whatsoever and if checking my emails helps them fight some !@@#ers, I don't mind.
    Intent DOES matter to me and I do not think that any government in western democracies would dare misuse this power for oppressing people.

    From US perspective, I can understand you guys are worried about some of the surveillance being unconstitutional, but

    • Consider that most governments are either directly (through campaign contributions) or indirectly (by holding jobs hostage) dependent on corporations.

      Now take a wild guess again whose interests they will protect first and foremost, and whether they coincide with yours.

    • Re:Why not (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Znork (31774) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @08:06AM (#46258993)

      I'm of no interests to secret services whatsoever

      Yeah, that's not up to you to decide. Someone else will decide that and if your phone was at the wrong place at the wrong time and someone misread or misinterpreted some data you're going to be the guy on the floor with assault rifles pointed at your back and your family screaming around you. Better hope your realize the masked men are the cops so you don't struggle and get shot.

      It's not like those doing the monitoring are certain to be competent or even guaranteed to be sane, and with signal-to-noise ratios being what they are and the extreme rarity of actual terrorists you can be sure that most hits will be false positives. Other people 'of no interest'.

      Intent DOES matter to me and I do not think that any government in western democracies would dare misuse this power for oppressing people.

      Oh, right, because we're not voting any representatives of ideologies that have shown no such restraint into power in Europe. Oh, wait...

      So if you want to keep from being 'of no interest' in the future, better keep from saying anything that could possibly piss off communists, neonazis, religious fundamentalists or anyone else who might possibly wield power in the future during the rest of your life. The archives are going to remain but the intent of today has no binding power over future rulers.

    • Re:Why not (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vadim_t (324782) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @08:12AM (#46259031) Homepage

      Spying on this level isn't needed for when secret services "take an interest in somebody". There already are mechanisms for the authorities to wiretap you if they're concerned with you directly. There's no need to wiretap the entire net for that.

      No, the purpose of such things is to assemble large databases of things like who talks to who, and for those purposes, you are of interest to secret services, as is everybody else. Let's say a friend of yours participates in some sort of environmental activism. Well, you both communicate, and that automatically makes you a person of interest.

  • We can do a much better job of spying and industrial espionage on our citizens than the NSA can if we build our own network.

  • by garry_g (106621) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @07:11AM (#46258885)

    Some time ago, there were suggestions by German Telekom of building a German infrastructure to ensure mails sent between German users would not be routed via the USA. Apart from ensuring German authorities would have it easier looking into traffic, I will hazard a guess that Telekom is lobbying to push this through, possibly forcing German providers to connect themselves to some newly designed infrastructure, which would most likely benefit German Telekom (either if they were operating those IXes, or by the lines put in to connect the providers). I do not have numbers as to the percentage, but most large to medium (and many smaller) German providers already are interconnected through DECIX, allowing for a short, cost-effective path between them. Oh, most, except for one - German Telekom (actually, they are connected, but do not have an open peering policy). Coincidence?

    Why is it that so many governments seem so clueless with technology?

  • The gouvernment which screwed end-to-end encryption by mandating a centralized "de-mail" concept to communicate with the administration shuts up.

    Make a decentralized key signing (e.g. in the city hall) initiative, for a reasonable fee, and show your citizens hot to import these certificates in theirs browsers and mail programs.

    Make sure the key generators use a decent random number generation, and for really important messages use one-time pads, or something which comes close.

    All of my phones have enough st

    • by St.Creed (853824)

      I can picture this already. Sort of like how it would be happening in a Stainless Steel Rat novel :)

      "Here is your mandatory super-secret one time pad, citizen! If you use this pad, all your mail is encrypted and impossible to break!"

      "Oh, why thank you!"

      • by drolli (522659)

        Yeah. I knew the post was somewhat too long to read and digest it, so here is the short version:

        -One time-pad: connection safety to your mail provider. What the requirements of the mail provider and you may be for getting the key (send by post, courier, or only hand over personnally) may be is up to the security vs price considerations of you and your provider.

        -End to end with officially *signed* (not generated) keys:
        protection against being sniffed at the provider.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @07:42AM (#46258935)

    Whenever Merkel makes a comment, I instantly wonder what her real intentions are. And this time it didn't take long, she wants control over what information is coming into her area of reign.

    If she was honest about wanting the US spying to end she'd first of all ferret out and shut down the various spying locations still scattered across Germany. It's not like the US never had bases there or shut them all down...

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Whenever Merkel makes a comment, I instantly wonder what her real intentions are. And this time it didn't take long, she wants control over what information is coming into her area of reign.

      Correctamundo. There is only one answer for increasing communications freedom and it has nothing to do with an EU network.

      If she was honest about wanting the US spying to end she'd first of all ferret out and shut down the various spying locations still scattered across Germany.

      Bah, now you're straying well off-topic. Let's try this: The way to make communications free for the people (as in speech, not beer -- though that too) is to promote mesh networking and end-to-end, opportunistic encryption. She wants a more centralized network, which will have the opposite effect to promoting freedom. What we need is complete decentralization, with routing based not on a

    • [Merkel] wants control over what information is coming into her area of reign

      She can already pretty much control whatever is coming in, thanks to the routers that do the I/O with Germany. I think what she wants is to control what's going out...

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "Whenever Merkel makes a comment, I instantly wonder what her real intentions are. "

      Secrecy is not one of them, since she illegally used a private, unencrypted Party-cellphone to do state-business on.
      A 12 year old could have listened in, no NSA or spy-sites needed.

  • by StripedCow (776465) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @08:19AM (#46259039)

    An extension to TCP/IP is needed, where each packet contains a flag stating that it should not enter US-governed networks.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Or how about my packets don't go to Germany? Trust is a 2-way street ya know, and i don't trust the German government with my data.

  • Even Merkel's cell phone was reportedly monitored by American spies.

    Merkel said in her weekly podcast that she disapproved of companies such as Google and Facebook basing their operations in countries with low levels of data protection while being active in countries such as Germany with high data protection.

    Those two statements don't go together.

  • ...of a network to exploit which is not subject to US regulation and controls currently being put into place with respect to their operations on domestic networks.

  • ...because a "pan European" anything isn't really going to be secure at all. All the NSA will have to do is pay someone in a financially desperate state to let them plug-in to their "secure" pan-European connection.

  • Internet routing doesn't respect geographical location. If you can't trust your internet connection even without knowing the route it takes, then you can't trust it at all. Everything must be encrypted.

    Of course, our politicians don't actually want to protect our privacy; they just want to be the only ones listening.

  • I would rather be spied in EU , by people I can vote against, protest against, or revolt against, rather than by the we-like-to-kill-people-with-the-wrong-metadata-with-drone spying bunch against which I do not vote, and have no chance to protest or revolt against.

    So : "go europe ! Build that network and root server !". and "go fuck yourself US & ICANN".
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      or revolt against

      With what, sticks? They already took away your ability to revolt.

  • They all spy. All this is for is to give government more control over their people, under the guise of 'privacy'.

    If your 'local internet' is isolated, its pretty hard to see what the rest of the world is doing, or let the rest of the world see how badly you are treating your people.

    "Digital Curtain"

  • The French have suggested "Project Maginot 2.0". They propose to build some really big firewall routers, here X, here X and here X. Take that USA! hah hah!
  • As much as it pains me to observe this, but due to the 'special relationship' having the UK on board will mean that everything is tapped by the US anyhow.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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