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First speeches at the start of the rally at Potsdamer Platz Print E-mail

All speakers agree: While it is commendable that a dialogue has begun between privacy advocates and the government, many problems are still on the table. Several large government IT projects must be rejected, such as the employee wages database ELENA, the census planned for 2011 or the electronic health card. The speakers also called for the European directive on data retention to be revoked and for the Internet blocking law to be abolished.

Here are some quotes from the speeches:

Anne Roth, Journalist and Blogger

Berlin journalist Anne Roth observed that the current Interior Minister is keeping a low profile; the government seems to have learned from the PR disaster that evolved out of the plans for internet blocking. “The bully Schäuble has gone – now we have a Schäuble in sheep’s clothing.” Thomas de Maizière is saying the right things, she remarked, and he is hosting a dialogue on Internet policy. And there now is the Study Commission on the Internet and digital Society in the German Bundestag. “But de Maizière also wants telecommunications data retention, European data collection, bank data sharing and a domestic role for the military”, said the journalist. Which is why there is no reason to settle back. “The tone has changed, yet the music we are facing is the same”, she continued. “But we are not stupid. You can face your music yourself. That’s why we are here today.”

Frank Bsirske

“This March, the German Constitutional Court established a fundamental framework. In its ruling on data retention, the highest German court said that if people had to live under the constant assumption of being observed, democracy itself is under threat”, said Frank Bsirske, chairman of the services worker’s union “ver.di” in his speech. His speech focused on the draft law on employees’ privacy rights that the German government proposed a fortnight ago. “This law is basically a cascade of elastic clauses”, Bsirske criticised. Some paragraphs didn’t offer real protections to employees, extending what employers are allowed to do instead. “The legislation would allow employers to police themselves in anti-corruption matters.” The government, according to Bsirske, is giving employers a reconnaissance role, letting them research their own enterprise for rule violations. “This would legalise and justify the snooping cases at Deutsche Bahn in retrospect. That just can’t be true”, Bsirske said in anger. As chairman of Germany’s second largest trade union, he also called on the Minister for the Economy, Rainer Brüderle, to drop plans for a central electronic base of employee wages (ELENA).

Monty Cantsin, Hedonistic Internationale

Monty Catsin agreed with the observation that the tone has changed, but the problems have remained the same. Despite the dialogue that has begun between politics and the Internet community, it was still worth taking to the streets. “It is worthwhile because there are still just as many good reasons. There are just as many projects planned against freedom as there were a year ago. And it is worthwhile because we have been intensely lulled since last September.” But politicians were taking the demands more seriously now than last year. “They have seen that we can create quite a stir with our demonstrations, actions, petitions and blogs. They have seen that we can convince people with our arguments. They have seen that we can make politics. And that we make politics. They don’t like that.”
Castin closed with the idea that has once again made many people take to the streets today: “Then some day we will come back to a situation where more freedom is ventured. And some day we will live in a society in which people freely decide what is right for them and their fellow people. A world in which we all live together in self-determination and freedom. That is a beautiful idea. And the best thing about it: this idea is not a utopia, it is possible – and that is why it is worth fighting for!”

Martin Grauduszus (Freie Ärzteschaft)

Martin Grauduszus of the Free Physicians’ Association (Freie Ärzteschaft) spoke on the project for an electronic health card (eCard). The declared intention of the state, said Grauduszus, was to “unhinge the indespensible protection of professional discretion and thus destroy the bastion of trust between patients and practitioners”. Grauduszus sees the eCard as a bigger threat than Google’s data leeching, making the patient a fully surveilled commodity. “What a scenario: the employer, seeing that his employee is seeking psychiatric help, throws him out with one mouse click.” And insurances could select their customers on-screen as well.
Grauduszus called on politicians to act. “Dear chancellor Merkel: instruct your ministers to stop rushing ahead with the eCard and the employee wages database ELENA!”


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