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Science

Online security dominates German IT summit

Germany needs to improve its reputation if it wants to become a destination for international IT companies, Chancellor Angela Merkel said. But German businesses shouldn't expect tax breaks in exchange for investments.

Montage of a network cable and a globe in the background

Germany is pushing for more online security

While German companies in the IT sector spend about seven percent of the budgets on research and development - more than any other country - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they are not reaping enough benefits from their investments when it comes to the country's international reputation.

"We cannot be satisfied to merely be ranked seventh amongst the leading industrial nations," Merkel said at a government-sponsored IT summit on Tuesday in Dresden, adding that 40 percent of all innovation in Germany is connected with the IT industry.

South Korea emerged as the world's favored site for IT companies, according to a survey by pollsters TNS Infratest, bumping the United States down to second place. Germany was awarded 59 percent of the maximum score, placing it behind Sweden and Britain.

WikiLeaks logo with the word Secrets under a magnifying glass

Secret documents made available by WikiLeaks have caught the world's attention

Merkel called for "politically well-placed incentives" to attract IT companies to Germany, citing the example set by "Silicon Saxony," the area around Dresden and Leipzig where several semiconductor manufacturers are based. But she added that tax breaks were unlikely as Germany slashes its budget.

Some 600 representatives form German companies and political, economic and scientific research centers met at the fifth national IT summit. The industry is responsible for some 850,000 jobs and 140 billion euros ($185 billion) in revenues in Germany.

Germany's Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM) announced a goal of investing 130 billion euros in advanced in data traffic infrastructure, energy efficiency, education and medical technology.

Focus on security

Germany could improve its international profile by focusing on internet security, according to German Economics Minister Rainer Bruederle.

"Here we will have something to offer the world," he said. "Security 'made in Germany' can become an export hit."

Bruederle added that his ministry would create an IT security task force that would evaluate the security of information stored on and transmitted via the Internet.

Referring to IT security, Bruederle compared revelations by online whistleblower WikiLeaks to the former East German Stasi secret police, but retracted the comment hours later.

"Some of the things I see on WikiLeaks remind me of the fervor with which (information) was collected by former institutions in the East - including the Stasi," the minister said.

WikiLeaks is gradually publishing more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables, revealing embarrassing and politically sensitive information about the country's embassy work around the world.

Author: Sabine Kinkartz, Sean Sinico (dpa, Retuers)

Editor: Cyrus Farivar

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