German labor ministry bans after-hours email from managers to employees

The German labor ministry has banned managers from calling or emailing employees outside of working hours as a means of preventing "self-exploitation," wherein workers end up putting in hours while they're off the clock. This follows on from voluntary bans enacted by major German companies like Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom. Managers can contact employees after hours only under "exceptional circumstances." Cory 14

NSA wiretapped 122 world leaders; GCHQ penetrated German satellite companies for mass surveillance potential


Newly disclosed documents from the trove Edward Snowden provided to journalists reveal the existence of the "Nymrod" database that listed 122 world leaders, many from nations friendly to the USA, that were spied upon by the NSA. Included in the list is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was already known to have been wiretapped by the NSA thanks to an earlier disclosure. Nymrod's "Target Knowledge Database" combed through the NSA's pool of global intercepts to amass dossiers of private communications -- emails, faxes, calls and Internet traffic -- related to the leaders.

Additionally, the UK spy agency GCHQ infiltrated and compromised two German satellite communications companies -- Stellar and Cetel -- and IABG, a company that supplied them with equipment. It wiretapped their senior executives as well. None of these companies are accused of having done anything amiss, but were targeted by British spies because their services carried Internet traffic and were a convenient "access chokepoint" from which to conduct mass-surveillance programs.

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Werkhaus: flat-pack housewares and accessories skinned with photos of scuffed, worn-in real-world stuff


I was in Berlin for the day yesterday to speak at a World Consumer Rights Day, and before I headed back to the airport, I dropped in at Werkhaus, a retail outlet that sells innovative, made-in-Germany flat-pack housewares that are skinned with beautiful photos of decayed, wabi-sabi surfaces from street furniture, antiques, and industrial apparatus. I bought one of their "Telefonstation" shelving units, designed to hold and charge your phones and mobile devices while disguising the charge-cables; the one I bought is skinned with the exterior of a scuffed and beaten Soviet pay-phone, with stenciled Cyrillic lettering.

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German beekeeping laws are weird: an excerpt from "The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance"

Earlier today, I reviewed a new book by Kevin "Lowering the Bar" Underhill called "The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws That Human Beings Have Actually Dreamed Up, Enacted, and Sometimes Even Enforced." Kevin kindly provided us with an excerpt from the book, a series of weird-but-true German beekeeping laws:


My swarm of bees has fled! What shall I do?

If you own a bunch of bees (known to bee experts as a “swarm”), and it flies away one day and ends up on somebody else’s property, who owns it?

It’s too bad they don’t teach bee law in school anymore, because this would be a great bar-exam question. Turns out that the German Civil Code has a set of rules about bee ownership in this situation that seems to cover the gamut of possible outcomes. Most importantly, the first rule of fleeing-bee procedure is that you must pursue the bees immediately. Otherwise any claim to swarm ownership will be waived:

Loss of ownership of bee swarms:
Where a swarm of bees takes flight, it becomes ownerless if the owner fails to pursue it without undue delay or if he gives up the pursuit.

Bees are not really considered “domesticated” in the full sense of the word, given that they have a habit of picking up and moving when­ever they want to and there isn’t much you can do about it, unless you thought ahead and took the time to make a shitload of bee leashes. As is the general rule with captured wild animals, if they get away they are considered to revert back to the wild and to unowned status. As long as you’re still pursuing them, though, there is hope.

German Civil Code § 960–61.

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Whistleblower: NSA secretly continues Merkel surveillance by bugging other German officials


An anonymous NSA leaker revealed to the German magazine Bild am Sonntag that the agency has been spying on senior German government figures. The move is apparently a response to Obama prohibiting the agency from spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel (or other world leaders) without his authorization -- by spying on the people with whom Merkel communicates, the agency is still able to intercept a large fraction of her most sensitive communications without presidential authorization.

Two amazing facts about this story:

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Call for papers: Re:Publica Berlin


Sandra writes, "What started as a 'class reunion' of bloggers, Internet activists, and researchers has become Europe's largest and most prominent conference on the future of our society and all things digital: re:publica, the Berlin based conference will happen again on 6-8 May 2014."

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Merkel compares NSA to Stasi

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a frank exchange of views with Barack Obama in which she compared the NSA to the Stasi. Merkel grew up in the former East Germany, where the Stasi secret police agency was a force of nearly unparalleled evil and corrosion. It's probably not an apt comparison: the NSA's digital wholesale spying makes the Stasi's towers of analog filing cabinets and jars full of odors look like a quaint kindergarten playground game of Orwell-and-Seek. Cory 5

Rooster-faced warriors of 16th century Germany


16th century German soldiery sure understood how to strike terror into their enemies' hearts: the rooster-headed armored visor (ca 1530) must have been a sight to behold. Now on display at the Met in NYC (Bashford Dean Memorial Collection, Bequest of Bashford Dean, 1928)

Close Helmet with Mask Visor (via Neatorama)

Germany threatens to jail Carl Malamud for making the law available for free


Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "One of the most important public safety laws in Europe is Dir. 2001/95/EC which regulates general product safety. Public.Resource.Org, in our ongoing quest to make legally-mandated public safety codes available, purchased the German instantiation of 40 of these essential codes and made them available on the Internet. Every country in the EU is required to implement and publish these standards.

"Imagine our surprise when we were served notice to appear in Hamburg District Court in Germany."

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Snowden invited to testify in Germany (with safe passage) over NSA spying


Hans-Christian Ströebele, a German Green party leader, has invited NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to a a German government hearing on American surveillance of Germans. The idea has a lot of political juice in Germany, it seems, thanks to the news that the NSA had spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone. Interestingly, the German rules on witnesses at these hearings have the state ensuring the witness's safe passage, which may get Snowden safely out of Russia (where he's been granted a year-long visa) and into a country from which he could apply for asylum. Snowden sent a letter to Chancellor Merkel in which he offered to cooperate in an inquiry on US spying in Germany and expresses his desire to travel to Germany to do so.

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Spooks throw Obama under the bus: He knew about Merkel spying since 2010

An anonymous "US intelligence source" told a German newspaper that Obama had been briefed on the fact that the NSA had tapped German chancellor Angela Merkel's phone in 2010, and that he'd personally let it go. Expect a lot more of this, as spooks who are sick of being kicked around for conducting the spying that high-ranking administration officials had been delighted to green-light start to whisper the names of their collaborators in government.

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19th century 9lb, 100-blade multitool with a pistol


This 9 lb, 1-foot-diameter "multi tool" was designed as a calling card by the F.W. Holler Company of Solingen, Germany, who were seeking to make a name for German knife manufacturers in Solingen (who had a centuries-long reputation for knifemaking) among the emerging market for Swiss Army Knives. It has 100 "blades," including a .22 revolver. And a straight razor.

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US ambassador to Germany summoned to explain NSA bugging chancellor Angela Merkel

John B Emerson, the US ambassador to Germany, has been summoned to a meeting with Guido Westerwelle, the country's foreign minister, over revelations that the NSA bugged chancellor Angela Merkel's phone. Germans are pissed about this. The country's defense minister told a television interview that the allegations were "really, really bad" and that there could be no more "business as usual" in US-German relations. Merkel herself is described as "livid."

Merkel's political opponents, such as the Pirate Party, had criticized her for failing to do enough to bring the US to account over leaks regarding bulk US surveillance of Germany; now they're making great political capital out of the fact that Merkel herself appears to have been directly targeted by US spooks.

Though, as a Guardian commenter observes: "If Merkel has done nothing wrong she has nothing to fear. If she objects to having her phone tapped doesn't that suggest she might be a terrorist?"

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Iphone fingerprint hacker on the limits of biometrics for security

Jan "Starbug" Krissler, the Chaos Computer Club researcher who broke the fingerprint reader security on the new Iphone, had given a long interview to Zeit Online explaining his process and his thoughts on biometrics in general. The CCC's Alex Antener was good enough to translate the interview for us; I've included some of the most interesting bits after the jump.

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More details, new video showing Iphone fingerprint reader pwned by Chaos Computer Club


Starbug, the Chaos Computer Club hacker who broke the fingerprint biometric security on the Iphone, has given an interview [German] to CT Magazine detailing the hack, and released a new video showing how he did it.

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