A visit to the Hessentag in Wetzlar

A flag at the Hessentag in WetzlarHaving spent ten days last year writing about the Hessentag in Oberursel, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to visit the event this year in Wetzlar.  Although I did not set out to do a direct comparison with last year, the headline in the Oberurseler Woche claiming “Oberursel war schöner” (Oberursel was nicer) intrigued me as well.

And so it was that I set off on Friday morning to drive to Wetzlar, which is about 45 minutes by motorway from Oberursel.

I followed the signs from the motorway exit to the car park, and my heart sunk when I saw which one the route had taken me to: P12.  The furthest car park away from the Hessentag area!

Luckily there was a shuttle bus to take me into town.  Unluckily it did not actually leave from the car park, so my Hessentag experience started with a short walk through a field alongside a river, to where the bus was waiting.  It must say something about the distances involved that there were even toilets laid on for people waiting for the bus at this point. [Read more…]

How to download your Facebook data

Facebook Logo - ©iStockphoto.com/pressureUAFacebook has been criticised in some European countries recently for the amount of data that they collect about their users and how it gets used.  Some parts of Germany in particular have been very active on this issue, but it was a law student from Vienna that finally got things moving by officially requesting information on the data that was being stored about him.

EU Data protection legislation – and that of many member states – allows people to request companies about which data is being stored about them, and the companies are required to respond.  Often within a set time frame.

Facebook falls under this rule because of their European headquarters in Dublin, which makes them subject the Irish data protection commissioner.

Now at first Facebook allowed you to apply on-line for your data, but then you had to submit a scan of some form of ID and jump through a few hoops to get hold of your data, which apparently was sent out by post.

I guess in the end too many people were asking for this because now the whole things has become automated. [Read more…]

Why there might be less Facebook “Like” buttons in Germany tomorrow

Brandenburg Gate - ©iStockphoto.com/archivesGermany seems to have a problem with new technologies, especially when it comes to privacy and data protection laws, as I’ve commented on before.  I’ve often heard the regulation of the internet here referred to as “out-dated” and sometimes even compared with internet restrictions in China.

As if the situation wasn’t complicated enough, each of the 16 German states has its own Data Protection law and agency, in additional to the national law and Data Protection Officer.  Theoretically, the law can therefore differ from state to state, or at least be interpreted differently.

Which explains why businesses in one part of Germany have had to decide whether to remove their Facebook “Like” button (called “Gefällt mir” in German) from their websites and close their Facebook fan pages.

What is unusual is that [Read more…]

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