How can a country obsessed with privacy as Germany come up with a national identity card system with RFIDs? One of the only ways to preserve privacy is anonymity but with a requirement to go anywhere with these new IDs it is very difficult to be anonymous. This is not just a German problem by the way. Same is the case in other European countries including Spain. An employee of mine spent 3 days in jail for not having her ID in Madrid. I interview her in this video. In any case, the same country that comes up with that national ID also has leading magazine, Stern, writing extremely negative articles about how Google invades privacy. I chose Stern as an example but when I ran companies in Germany for example we could not outsource our customer care because we were not allowed to pass customer information to the customer care centers if we did not own them. This added a lot of costs to our operations all for the sake of privacy. And this was not telemarketing, this was technical support. Privacy concerns in Europe many times clash with the normal functioning of the Internet and technology business. I guess the main difference between Continental Europe and USA in this matter is that Europeans have tremendous faith in government and do not consider their actions as invasive of privacy. For Americans government is one more potential invader privacy. Personally I think that there are more people now who prefer to share than to be private but if you do want privacy it is better not to be online and to be out and about in places where people do not know who you are. In my case I am just the opposite. From this blog on I sign everything I do online and in real life.

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Falk Lüke on August 23, 2010  · 

Maybe I don’t get you right: you say that companies should be allowed to do what states are? Well, on the one hand I can understand if you see this as a problem, but what about the other way around? Even the most distrusted elected government is an elected government and can be replaced by others by majority decision. Without being a shareholder, I’m not voting on companies and corporations behaviour.

There’s no problem in running a help center outside Germany for example. You just have to take the liability for the data stored and accessed there, have to prove you have safeguarded they are not a data sucking whatsoever and then, it’s fine. Of course, that’s bureaucracy and nobody likes bureaucracy, me included. But it’s your decision: you want to save the money (that’s the main reason to go abroad) – then you have to safeguard.

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Martin Varsavsky on August 23, 2010  · 

As German history has shown trusting government 100% is not always a good idea. I am not a big fan of privacy myself but if I was I would not believe that losing all of it to the government and gettting excessive protection from the largest employers in the world would be the way to go.

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