Tag: german

German IT industry wants immigrants

German IT industry association Bitkom wants easier immigration rules for foreign IT professionals. Bitkom’s president, August-Wilhelm Scheer, stated Germany had to open itself up more to offset the country’s lack of specialised personnel. According to Bitkom around 28.000 vacancies are open as there aren’t enough professionals to fill them.

Bitkom said an idea being forwarded by politicians to fill vacancies with unemployed persons is “unworldly”. Instead, controlled immigration measures should be implemented. These would allow professionals to work in Germany and visit langauge and integration courses, as well as assisting in finding their kids places in a kindergarten and a flat. “A successful integration policy can become an advantage for the immigration of qualified specialists from abroad,” commented Scheer.

Bitkom chalked up three demands in order to get qualified foreigners to immigrate to Germany. First off, the minimum wage for a permanent residence permit ought to be dropped from €66,000 to around €40,000, which is the average entry level salary engineers and computer scientists receive in Germany. In addition, an international marketing to get people to “Study and Work in Germany” ought to be launched.

What will create the biggest ruckus is Bitkom’s demand that an independet commission should create a concept to control immigration using a point system – just like Canada. A certain amount of immigrants scoring high on various criteria could be let into the country to fill vacancies.

The demands of Germany’s IT industry come one day before Chancellor Angela Merkel holds her “Integrationsgipfel” (immigration summit), where parties representing the state and various immigrant groups get together and chat on how to live together. Immigration and integration have become a major topic in the last few years, just as in Germany’s neighbours France and The Netherlands.

German Libdem minister Rainer Bruederle is currently visiting Canada and has fallen in love with the country’s system of controlled immigration, Merkel however doesn’t want to hear about it.

Back 10 years ago, during the height of the Internet Bubble, Germany’s IT industry demanded easier immigration of qualified staffers from countries such as India. In Northrhine-Westphalia, the conservative Christian Democrats launched a rather folkish campaign during elections calling for “Kinder statt Inder” (Children, not Indians). Candidate Juergen Ruettgers said German children should be schooled in IT-related matters. An additional influx of Indians was also deemed “unmoral”, as there already were enough foreigners that had to be integrated.

Germany blitzes neonazi radio

Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office BKA has blitzed a group of right-wing extremists operating an internet radio station. Nearly 270 constables conducted raids in the federal states of Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Berlin, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Wuerttemberg. The coppers arrested 21 suspects who had their laptops, PCs, HDDs and mobile phones seized, as well as various objects falling under German weapons law.

A total of 23 people, aged 20 to 37, are suspected of being admins and mods of the station called “Widerstand-Radio” (Resistance Radio). Prosecutors are accusing them of forming a criminal conspiracy, as well as playing music with racist and National Socialist content. Books, movies and music can be banned and seized in Germany if they feature illegal content, such as praising the Third Reich or denying the Holocaust.

BKA president Joerg Ziercke said Germany’s right-wing scene was showing clear signs of modernising its mobilisation and recruitment strategies. Music was being used to target youths and young adults. Ziercke added the raids and arrests should be understood as a clear signal to operators of other right-wing extremist internet radio stations. The BKA raided sellers of right-wing music who auctioned their goods through Ebay back in 2008. Nearly 3,500 CDs were seized, including 24 PCs and various militaria and devotionalia.

Germany’s far-right party NPD and other far-right groups tried luring hapless pupils into their trap by handing out so-called “Schulhof-CDs” (schoolyard CDs) to youngsters going home from school. Around 50,000 CDs were produced, however a court issued a denial order and kept them from being handed out.

Should Pirates go green?

After a promising start, Europe’s Pirates have failed to gain traction and suffered bitter election results. In Sweden’s national elections a few Sundays ago, the Piratpartiet received just 0.7 percent of votes, merely 10 of the seven percent they garnered in last year’s European election. The picture is similarly bleak in Germany.

In unified Germany, where fear of Big Brother is stronger than in other European countries and people are very conscious of their civil rights following two dictatorships in the last century, the Piratenpartei had two percent of votes in the 2009 general election.

Despite not reaching the five percent necessary to enter the Bundestag, the result caused large parties to take notice, as the Piratenpartei had a higher percentage of votes than Germany’s Greens, Die Grünen, had in 1980, the first time they were up for the vote (1.5 percent).

A few months later however, the Piratenpartei dropped to 1.6 percent in the elections for the parliament of Germany’s most populated federal state Northrhine-Westphalia. The result in England’s general elections need not even be mentioned – an utterly dire 0.4 percent.

Both the Piratpartiet in Sweden and the Piratenpartei in Germany profited from discussions sparked by their respective former governments in 2009. Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, who served as Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth in the former cabinet, launched an ill-conceived law calling for the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police Office) to create black lists and block access to child porn sites with a stop sign.

This was an effort on behalf of Von der Leyen to gain a profile for herself and her party, Germany’s conservative CDU (Christian Democrats), shortly ahead of general elections in late September 2009.

Von der Leyen’s endeavour was met with a hailstorm of protest. Former victims of child abuse were one of the loudest voices to criticise the proposal, saying content must be taken down and deleted instead of merely blocked. Critics who actually had a clue with regards to the internet said the whole stop sign affair could be done away with by simply using TOR. Others argued federal police creating black lists without court orders and judicial oversight was against the constitution.

In the end, the law was reduced to a pile of rubble, but Germany’s Piratenpartei managed to profit from the outrage surrounding it – but only in the short term. In local elections in Northrhine-Westphalia the Pirates got one seat each in the town councils of Münster and Aachen. Aachen and Münster are both cities with tens of thousands of students.

Approximatenly one fifth of Münster’s population is made up of students studying at Germany’s third-largest university. It comes as no surprise the Piratenpartei can grab votes and seats in German cities full of young and well-educated citizens – but state and general elections are an entirely different thing, especially if there is no pressing problem.

In Sweden, the whole palaver surrounding torrent tracker ThePirateBay.org and a law proposal allowing copyright owners to lay their hands on an ISP’s user logs helped Piratpartiet get seven percent and a seat in Sweden’s election for the European Parliament.

England’s voters are complacent enough to have laws like the Digital Economy Act down their throats without moaning, meaning the country is a dead duck for anything to do with well-balanced laws pertaining to privacy and internet freedoms – a tad similar to France, as Brits will be happy to know.

Despite input from the Piratenpartei, Germany’s Green faction in the Thuringian state parliament managed to vote for a rather dismal law called the Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag (JMStV). This wants to add age certificates to websites and set air times when a website can be viewed  like the watershed in Britain. 

Thuringia’s Pirates did consult the Greens sitting in the state parliament, but they ignored the advice.

After all – who in the world listens to geeks and nerds calling themselves “Pirates” whose raison d’être is seen to be P2P sans frontieres and dissolution of copyrights creating a situation where there’s no cash for the creative industries.

On the other hand, an established political party running for office in elections in federal states next year might simply vote for a nonsensical law not only on the basis of nonexistant better knowledge, but also perhaps to make sure a political opponent cannot nail them on protecting children from nefarious content and so on. Nonetheless, this would not make too much sense, seeing the conservative CDU trashed their own stop sign law created last year by Von der Leyen.

Whatever the situation and argument, it seems countries with a diverse party landscape, such as France, Germany, Sweden etc., are in dire need of a party able to twist thumbscrews on established political reasoning and laws of ill design threatening the free flow of information through the net. A law handing out age certificates to national domains would also lead to a law having to be created to manage international domains – imagine www.collateralmurder.org being blocked until midnight for getting an 18 certificate due to its disturbing imagery.

In England, however, the Pirates should go ahead and join forces with entities of lesser political clout – the UK’s Green Party, for instance – or go ahead staying unnoticed except by IT-related news sites and interested individuals.

One thing is for certain – playing “Pirate” is bound to keep the party outside of national parliaments across Europe.

SSL security is bogus

An insecurity study into the use of SSL certificates has revealed that it is about as effective as an English team preventing a German striker from getting a ball in the back of the net.

Security research firm Qualys scanned 119 million domain names, but found that only 92 million were active. More than 12.4 million domains failed to resolve properly and 14.6 million failed to respond.

Of the active domains that did respond, nearly 34 million responded to the Qualys scan on both port 80 and port 443. Port 80 is typically used for HTTP while port 443 is typically used for HTTPS-, SSL-secured Websites.

Director of engineering at Qualys, Ivan Ristic, said that despite stumping up $100 for SLL only 23 million of the sites tested were actually using it.

It is considered best practice that the name on the SSL certificate matches the name of the domain on which the SSL certificate is being used.

However Ristic said that only 3.17 percent of the domain names matched. That means that 22 million SSL servers have certificates that are completely invalid because they do not match the domain name on which they reside.”

Ristic is going to be chatting to the Black Hat USA conference. He will admit having a vested interest in that his outfit has an SSL security-checking service available publicly for some time.

Ristic built a virtual machine that was able to run 2,000 threads in parallel to scan those millions of domain names. The process took him two days at a speed of 1,000 servers scanned per second.

However when news of his study leaked out here, readers were quick to point out that there were a few holes in his reasoning.

The SSL protocol has required a separate IPv4 address per SSL certificate since 1994, before the host header was introduced to allow virtual hosting. It means that the Web server does not know which certificate to return until after the SSL handshake has completed.

The study found 22 million Web sites with SSL enabled when there have not been that many sold. So what the study is really showing is an artifact produced by ISPs trying to conserve IPv4 addresses. For every 100 Web sites on the same machine and four of them have an SSL certificate, ISPS they will assign 4 IPv4 addresses and not 5. So each SSL site will share its IPv4 address with an average of 24 other, unrelated sites. 

Germans break up by SMS, email

A new survey from German social research outfit Forsa states three million Germans have opted for the easy way out and ended a relationship simply by sending an email or a text message at least once in their lives.

However, 92 percent of the population apparently disapproves of such behaviour. Having a chat with or without throwing vases and dishes around still seems to be the most popular way of saying “auf Wiedersehen” to an about-to-be-former partner.

Close to two-thirds of survey participants have said goodbye to their former loved one face to face in real life, whereas one in ten put his or her better half on the single market by means of a handwritten letter.

The easy opt-out function is mostly used by teenagers, despite 99 percent of youths aged 14 to 19 claiming they would never do such a heartless thing. In reality, one in seven teenagers actually did use digital means of communications to declare they weren’t interested in talking, snogging, hugging and kerflumping their girl or boyfriend anymore.

If the survey is to be believed, even two percent of old people over 60 years of age have used their mobile phone or PC to put an end to their relationship. On top of it all, there apparently is no noteworthy difference in behaviour between the sexes – the postmodern man is just as cruel as his female counterpart.

Forsa interviewed 1001 participants over 14 years of age, which was conducted as part of German industry association Bitkom’s (Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media) Webmonitor survey. The results are extrapolated to the entire population – asking a few more people might have painted a different picture.

Germany says no to Three Strikes

German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has declared her country will say a clear no to the controversial three strikes rule which is currently being debated in secret EC talks on the international antipirating agreement ACTA. Cutting citizens off from the internet were not the right way to counter onlinie piracy, stated Leutheusser-Scnharrenberger in an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel

She also described the secret proceedings of the European Commission as “disturbing” and demanded all papers be discussed by the European parliament. American companies had signed a NDA in order to view the documents, whereas members of the European parliament have as of yet not been able to see, read and discuss them in open – as is the standard procedure in any democratic process.

France passed the so-called Hadopi-bill last year, which states normal citizens should have their connection cut off if they illegally download or trade MP3 files or movies. Nicholas Sarkozy pushed the bill through parliament. He is married to French pop star Carla Bruni, who is signed to record label Naive. Naive was founded by Patrick Zelnik, who just happens to be the author of the so-called Zelnik Report. In his report, he demanded an extra tax on online advertising to support French newspapers. Sarkozy, seemingly a friend of outdated, non-digital business plans, was very pleased.