Tag Archives: Germany

Germany Grumbles at Facebook’s Facial Recognition

Concerns have been expressed in Germany that Facebook are in violation of European privacy laws by implementing their facial recognition feature.

Hamburg’s data protection official Johannes Casper has written to Facebook to demand it stops running facial recognition software on German users and deletes any related data.

Facebook came under heavy criticism in June when they introduced the feature to over 500 million users bringing them to apologise for the way they handled the roll out.

“Should Facebook maintain the function, it must ensure that only data from persons who have declared consent to the storage of their biometric facial profiles be stored in the database,” Casper said.

Facebook have been given two weeks to respond to a letter drafted by Casper and could face fines of up to €300,000 if they are met in court by the German authorities.

Germany is known to take privacy much more seriously than many other countries and has come to blows before with the likes of Google when the company was attempting to implement it’s street view service there.

A Facebook spokeswoman said they were examining Caspar’s request but that it “firmly rejects any accusations that we are not complying with our obligations to European Union data protection laws.”

The European Union’s advisory board is also looking at possible violations from Facebook in addition to individual members states conducting enquiries in Ireland, the UK and Germany.

Furthermore in the US the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a complaint with the FTC.  A representative from EPIC, Ed Markey demonstrated his support by saying Facebook’s policy should be ‘Ask for permission, don’t assume it.”

Is Unlimited Storage a Realistic Promise?

In a bid to remain competitive amongst tech giants Google and Apple Amazon has recently announced its ‘unlimited’ music storage offering.

However many who have indulged have found the compatibility limited. Messages appear to the tune of ‘this format is not supported’ when certain files are uploaded.

There always appears to be a catch when someone is advertising an ‘unlimited service.’ A parallel in the physical world can be drawn with the Autobahn in Germany where speed is actually restricted via a vehicle top. Providing unlimited amounts of storage is simply not commercially viable and it is difficult to see at the moment how it can be.

Mozy who have been offering consumer backup since 2006 ended their unlimited backup offering back in February. Their original idea was that the ‘power users’ would be balanced out by those that only used up a minimal amount of space. This was an ambitious business model for $4.99/Month. Even with approximately 10% of Mozy users identified as ‘power users’ this was still never going to be commercially viable.

Competitiveness within the techy world has often pushed the boundaries to where the word ‘unlimited’ has been banded around. In the U.S. Virgin media have been forced to put a throttle on their unlimited mobile usage plan. The same also happened earlier this year with the provider Verizon.

The dream of unlimited online storage is still yet to be reached and users must be aware when opting for such services.










Portable storage and mobile device management lacking in UK businesses

Figures show that UK firms are less well equipped to protect the data stored on mobile devices and portable storage solutions than their European counterparts.

A study carried out by Absolute Software found that 65 per cent of IT managers working in the UK do not have any way of identifying where the mobile devices owned and operated by their business are located at a given point in time.

This compares poorly to the 50 per cent of clueless managers in France and 41 per cent in Germany, showing that many UK organisations need to step up their ability to manage mobile devices and keep tabs on their usage and whereabouts, in order to safeguard the sensitive data which they regularly store, necessarily mitigating the risk of loss.

Six per cent of IT managers from the UK claimed that they have automated systems in place to monitor the whereabouts of corporate laptops, which is still lower than both Germany and France, where this type of ability is present in 13 per cent of businesses.

Absolute Software’s Dave Everitt, said that the figures prove how UK managers are unable to properly monitor and protect mobile devices and portable storage, consequently leaving data out in the open to be lost or stolen and exposing businesses to damaging data loss scandals, which could result in punitive action by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Mr Everitt pointed out that while replacing the physical technology would be a minor expense, it is the data stored on mobile devices which is the most valuable to an organisation, meaning that in the event of loss or theft, the costs can quickly multiply.

Experts acknowledge that IT managers can have a tough time keeping track of mobile devices and Mr Everitt said that the increasing number of people using personal smartphones for business purposes was compounding the problem.

IT managers are advised to remain adaptable and work with employees in order to better manage and control the use of mobile devices and portable storage.

Downtime costing UK businesses billions, report finds

Each year businesses and organisations are losing billions of pounds and hundreds of thousands of hours, because of IT downtime, whether due to internal errors or external disasters.

CA Technologies has compiled a report which puts the annual cost at £2 billion and claims that firms would be better able to counteract the impacts of any downtime, if they had proper business continuity management contingencies in place.

Revenue lost through faulty IT systems amounts to an average of just over £200,000 per UK business in a given year, according to CA Technologies.

The study extrapolated data from a wider report which covered most major EU states and it found that French businesses were suffering the most from downtime, losing on average £424,000 each every year. Germany and Norway took second and third place, with costs of £330,000 and £271,000 respectively.

The UK resides in the number eight spot, ahead of Denmark, Belgium and Italy, the latter seeing individual businesses losing an average of £28,000 due to downtime.

A study of 200 UK organisations found that each had lost an average of 27 working hours because of IT failures over the period of a year.

UK firms see revenue fall by almost a quarter each time the IT systems which are critical to their operation fail, according to the study.

CA Technologies is convinced that much of this waste and loss is entirely unnecessary, claiming that businesses must reanalyse their business continuity and disaster recovery policies, to ensure that they can protect data and make sure that the restoration of operational capabilities is carried out quickly.

CA Technologies’ Chris Ross, said that businesses who were struggling to pull themselves out after the recent financial crisis, would be well advised to eliminate the impacts of downtime, because, in the long run, this will improve their revenue streams and make it easier to recover as a whole.

Seventy-five per cent of the businesses from across Europe which took part in the survey, claimed that IT systems which went down were usually those that were integral to continued operation.

Germany joins nations concerned over BlackBerry security

The German government has been revealed as the latest international power to have voiced concerns over the way in which the encrypted email services used by BlackBerry smartphones and their contemporaries are handled, arguing that they pose a threat to national security because of the potential for data loss and security breaches.

Canadian-based BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) has come under fire over recent weeks after Saudi Arabia was joined by the United Arab Emirates and India in criticising the fact that secure emails and instant messages are routed through the firm’s domestic servers even if they are being sent and received on the other side of the globe.

It emerged that German officials had been warned that continued use of BlackBerry handsets and other smartphones could lead to personal data and information of national importance becoming compromised. This advice was given in November 2009, but newspaper Handelsblatt unearthed the information in the wake of the current controversy.

In Germany the government ministers were advised to ditch their BlackBerry or iPhone in favour of a SiMKo 2 smartphone that complies with BSI guidelines for data protection.

Elsewhere it looks like RIM is getting ready to concede to its powerful detractors and allow the Saudi Arabian authorities to gain access to all secure communications which are sent by BlackBerry users in their country for monitoring purposes.

This will presumably mean that RIM will be privy to the data as is currently the case, but the Saudis are more concerned with quelling insurgency and perceived threats to the state rather than protecting the correspondence of leading government officials.

The SiMKo 2 smartphone which German politicians favour is specifically designed to offer levels of security which will be adequate to protect the information routinely transferred between ministers and other government users.

BlackBerry handsets have become widely popular amongst business users, particularly in the US where RIM holds the controlling share of the smartphone market. However, high profile BlackBerry users including President Obama have been persuaded to choose smartphones which offer tighter security for fear that they will become targets of data criminals or foreign intelligence agencies.

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