How does the Internet generation tick? | Made in Germany | DW | 31.12.2013
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Made in Germany

How does the Internet generation tick?

How does the Internet generation tick? How are these young people changing the working world and how are German companies responding? We discuss these issues with Joachim Bühler from BITKOM, the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media.

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DW: Well, if you haven't got anything to hide, you don't have anything to fear. That's what a lot of people will argue. But what if your data gets misused? Say you've gone on holidays to the Middle East for a language course... and you write to a friend, but omit the fact that it was to learn Arabic, because your friend already knows this -- and suddenly you've got a message that reads -- just returned from TRAINING in Yemen. How would that sound to the authorities? That's a question for Joachim Bühler from the association Bitkom. Is it that simple? Can you get yourself into so much trouble so quickly?

Joachim Bühler: Well, to be honest, I don't know, because nobody knows actually now what the secret services worldwide do and what they are doing and what they can do when they read such an e-mail. And this is one of the biggest problems: we don't know what they do and on which laws they do it.

But we know that they are looking, or do have the capabilities of looking at our data and our information.

Yes, that's true, they have the capability, but we don't know how they get the datas - whether they get it via the cable, or are they using technologies for hacking or stuff like that? That's not clear at the moment, and we are still waiting for answers from the government in the U.S. or in the UK, as well as from the German government.

Are they answers we're ever going to get?

Well, hard to say. We hope so. Well, actually, we need it, because what we're seeing now is that we are losing trust in our technologies, and that's a very big problem, not only for holidays in the Middle East, but for the economy, it's a very big problem. Our economy is based on data. The data is very important for our economy, and if we lose trust in these technologies, then we will lose economy-welfare.

I mean this is something that it sounds like you're trying to say we should be outraged about. We should be doing something about this.

Yes. Well we definitely do; we have to do. We need agreements, no-spy agreements. We need laws for what the secret services should do and what they're not allowed to do, and to get more trust in our technologies again, and this is homework to do for politics.

What are companies doing? Because companies were involved - they were the middleman, so to speak, for some governments.

Well, first of all, the companies want to say what they are doing with the government and what they are not. At the moment, they are not allowed to talk about it, and this is the first problem. We need transparency - a very big issue for them - and the second thing is that we have transparency, as well, for our data security: what are companies doing to secure their datas, what are they doing in technologies, and what are they doing with laws and what's the company dealing with the data?

What about German companies?

Well, the German companies - there is no difference between German companies or other companies. Data protection is a very big issue for both of them, and, yes, and this is a point that they have to do it.

What about governments? Edward Snowden has said, 'Mission accomplished'. Now we have to urge governments to end the mass data-sifting that they've been doing. I mean, is that pie-in-the-sky?

Oh, I think so. I mean, it's a little bit naive to think that governments will stop the secret-service activities, but what we CAN do is to agree what they're allowed to do and what not, and what they're allowed to do with different states and what they're allowed for domestic people and foreign people, and I think we have to talk about it, and we need laws, and we need transparency for our secret services, yes.

(Interview: Ben Fajzullin)