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German Chancellor Proposes European Communications Network 197

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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  • Just a Band-aid (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:18AM (#46258757)

    to the problem of what the NSA is doing. And if an organization does it within Europe, what then?

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Re:as they say (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @09:08AM (#46259147)

    I'd much prefer the data to be captured by European organizations than the NSA.

    Because... why? The US government can do very little to a European citizen.

    If you're European, it's the European organizations that can wreck your life.

  • Re:Just a Band-aid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @09:14AM (#46259165) Journal

    to the problem of what the NSA is doing. And if an organization does it within Europe, what then?

    There's also the problem that hard outer shells tend to have a very tepid time protecting networks of nontrivial size if the stuff inside is still all soft and squishy.

    You aren't going to run a network the size of Europe, or even part of it, without almost anybody who cares having a few listening stations set up, and if you plan on extending your EuroNet to anybody except specific state functionaries sending secure email to one another, you'll still have loads of users chattering with servers outside your shiny new network.

    Is it probably a good idea not to use US cloud services corporations if you don't want the Americans watching you? Sure. Are the subsequent steps markedly more difficult? Oh definitely.

    (Plus, the UK is a longstanding double-plus Freedom Buddy, and Germany has long been quite cooperative, so we'll see if they can find enough countries not collaborating with the US to even fill out a network...)

  • 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.

  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @09:45AM (#46259241) Homepage Journal

    There is a third choice. Data pollution. What I really want is a program that doesn't require me to do it manually - entering in false "tags", random "birthdates", and randomly searching for consumer items I don't necessarily have interest in. Antiphorm was evidently a program developed to do something like this, but it disappeared.

    Cookie camouflage, digital haystacks, bitshit, there must be a lot of names for it. Nature almost never evolves invisibility, but evolves camouflage. I haven't been able to interest any programmers in developing this, but think it could just be as simple as a browser hunting forms online and populating them with garbage.

    "We all have a civil obligation to generate false data." - Spartacus, 71 BC

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.