Mostly I write at home, but sometimes between appointments I find myself scratching something out in a café. Like this one.
There’s a column in one of the local papers where readers ask questions and one of the journalists answers in depth. Well, as in depth as is possible in a few paragraphs.
The question today was something like:
Why are Germans so obsessed with data protection?
If could probably do a better job of paraphrasing the answer, but it seemed to come down to a few major things. One was the populace encountering two data-collecting dictatorships in relatively recent memory. There’s no question that this is part of the story.
The other main point was that we are constantly reminded in the media, as well as by word of mouth, that our data is being collected and potentially used.
One factoid that I was a bit surprised at was that half of German Internet users are not just on Facebook, but regularly active on the platform.
If I’d had to guess based on a non scientific sampling of my friends and acquaintances, I’d assume that most Germans weren’t even using social media.
Truth be told, most of my friends here who are active online are using false names and constantly feeding false data to the monsters in the machine.
So, I’m curious. If you’re German and reading this, do you have an opinion on data protection/online anonymity? Obviously, you can contact me privately if you’re uncomfortable leaving a trace of your existence here.
Alternatively, if you’ve worked with Germans and/or lived among them, what do you think of this phenomenon? Are your German friends more cautious online?
I should warn you ahead of time that your answers could be used in an article I’m writing on the subject.