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February 12 2014

Top Moments From Sochi: Alpine Stalemate, German Luge Victory

American Shaun White's quest for a third gold medal in the men's snowboard halfpipe ended Tuesday after a first run that was far from stellar, but other Olympians were still fighting for the top spot on the podium Wednesday at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Athletes competed in everything from alpine skiing, which resulted in an historic tie between Slovenia's Tin Maze and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland, to curling and luge.

"I'm sure glad I'm going to share this gold with Tina," Gisin told the Associated Press. "She's such a great woman and one of the greatest athletes of our sport."

More about Finland, United States, Olympics, Germany, and Russia
Winter Olympics Photo of the Day: Twists and Turns

It may be the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere, but temperatures at the 2014 Sochi Olympics are on the milder side. The effect of these warm temperatures can be seen in Wednesday's Photo of the Day, which features Eric Frenzel of Germany (right) and Akito Watabe of Japan (left) competing in the Nordic combined individual normal hill event.

The shadowed shot was taken by Al Bello, Getty Images' award-winning chief sports photographer. Bello, who captured the image at the RusSki Gorki Nordic Combined Skiing Stadium, is covering his tenth Olympics in Sochi. It showcases the snow's slushy conditions as well as the tight turns competitors must maneuver. Read more...

More about Japan, Olympics, Germany, Winter Olympics, and Skiing

February 03 2014

Hackers Sue German Government for Helping the NSA

A group of hackers and a human rights organization are suing the German government for allegedly conducting illegal spying activities and aiding the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)

The Chaos Computer Club (CCC), one of the largest hacker groups in the world, and the International League for Human Rights (ILHR) filed a criminal complaint to German federal prosecutors on Monday. The groups are accusing the German government, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, "of illegal and prohibited covert intelligence activities, of aiding and abetting of those activities, of violation of the right to privacy and obstruction of justice" by cooperating with the NSA and the GCHQ to spy on German citizens, according to the CCC's press release. Read more...

More about Germany, Surveillance, Hackers, Us World, and Politics

November 01 2013

Snowden in Letter to Germany: 'Speaking the Truth Is Not a Crime'

Edward Snowden expressed his support for a German investigation into NSA surveillance in a letter delivered the German government on Friday

Outraged by recent allegations that the NSA might have tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, German lawmakers are considering a closer examination of the NSA's practices and have proposed inviting Snowden to testify

In the letter, Snowden, who has been charged with espionage, declines a potential invitation, but he says he "looks forward" to cooperating with Germany once the "situation is resolved" with the U.S. government. Read more...

More about Privacy, Germany, Surveillance, Us World, and Politics

October 31 2013

Startups Flocking to Berlin for Its Relaxed Visa Rules

Germany’s immigration policy isn’t perfect, but hey, at least it’s not the U.S.

Entrepreneurs in Berlin’s budding tech scene say Germany’s relatively relaxed visa-application process gives them an edge in attracting international talent, such as software engineers who don’t want to go through the strained H-1B route in the U.S.

"In Silicon Valley, it’s getting harder and harder to get international visas,” Marco Boerries, a German entrepreneur, said in an interview in Berlin. “The amount of talent that I need for the problem that we're trying to solve, I have an easier time finding here than in Silicon Valley.” Read more...

More about Startups, Entrepreneurs, Germany, Business, and Small Business

October 30 2013

No Apologies Offered for Spying as Obama Weighs Limits

U.S. intelligence officials offered no apologies for spying on foreign leaders without specifying who they targeted, defending the practice as the same thing other nations do to the American government.

The national intelligence director and head of the National Security Agency drew a line only at collecting communications records of millions of European citizens. The NSA’s director, Army General Keith Alexander, called European news reports of those activities “completely false.”

“It’s invaluable for us to know where countries are coming from, what their policies are and how that would impact us across a whole range of issues,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the House intelligence committee during a hearing yesterday in Washington. Read more...

More about United States, Barack Obama, Germany, U.S. Government, and Us World

October 23 2013

German Chancellor Calls Obama Over Alleged U.S. Phone Tapping

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Barack Obama on the phone after German government officials obtained information that indicated the United States may have spied on her phone, according to multiple news reports.

Merkel asked President Obama to clarify the allegation, first reported by the German magazine Der Spiegel. Merkel warned that, if true, such an allegation would be "completely unacceptable" and a "grave breach of trust," per the the AP

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that "the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," according to the BBC. Read more...

More about Barack Obama, Germany, Surveillance, Us World, and Us

October 22 2013

The U.S. Isn't the Only Country in the Spying Business

New revelations about U.S. spies reading the emails of Mexico’s president and eavesdropping on millions of private phone calls in France have proven to be an embarrassment for the Obama administration. But experts aren’t surprised by the news, revealed in documents leaked by former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden.

France summoned the U.S. ambassador to express its outrage over the incident, which was revealed Monday in the French newspaper Le Monde. French Prime Minister Ayrault said, "It's incredible that an allied country like the United States at this point goes as far as spying on private communications that have no strategic justification, no justification on the basis of national defense." Read more...

More about France, Germany, Us Government, Spying, and Mexico

September 18 2013

50-Foot Fire-Breathing Dragon Holds Title for World's Largest Walking Robot

Every August for the past 500 years, German festival goers come to the Bavarian forest to see a performance of the traditional folk play Drachenstich, or “Slaying of the Dragon.” Naturally, you’d expect there to be a dragon in this performance — except currently, the part is being played by an enormous animatronic robot that spits real fire.

Called Tradinno, a portmanteau of the words tradition and innovation, this dragon was first introduced to the festival in 2010 and has been scaring the pants off of everybody who sees it ever since. In addition to being 51 feet tall, it also weigh 11 tons and has a 40 foot wingspan. Oh yeah, and did we mention it breathes fire? Because it does, using liquid gas that’s stored underneath it’s polyurethane and glass-reinforced skin. There’s also 21 gallons of fake stage blood in there, too. Read more...

More about Robots, Guinness World Records, Germany, Dragon, and Entertainment

July 04 2013

Vibrating Train Windows Transmit Ads Directly Into Your Head

Billboards. Radio ads. Pop-up banners. You see and hear advertising everywhere these days, and a new concept literally bring ads into your skull.

Sleepy commuters in Germany, who rest their heads on public train windows, have recently gotten a surprise when they heard an ad that no one else can, as explained in the video above. They're not dreaming: a transmitter on trains in Munich and North Rhine-Westphalia sends high-frequency vibrations to the windowpane, which a person can hear through bone conduction.

This ad campaign by agency BBDO in Dusseldorf, Germany, was launched with prototypes on behalf of broadcasting company Sky Deutschland, back in January. The ad that plays to a person's inner ear is about Sky’s new mobile app. Read more...

More about Advertising, Germany, Trains, Bbdo, and Business

February 15 2012

Facebook Police: German Cops Get Social Media Users to ID Suspects [VIDEO]

Police lineups in Germany have gone digital, with Hanover Police asking people to identify photofits of crime suspects on its Facebook page.

The police department has nabbed eight criminals since March 2011 when it started crowdsourcing suspects’ photos via Facebook for its pilot manhunt called “Fahndung via Facebook.” The success has prompted the rest of Germany’s law enforcement to consider using Facebook in the same way.

The Hanover Police Department wrote this on its Facebook wall: “Dear Facebook Community, We are pleased with the positive response to our pilot. [It helps] us greatly if you ‘share’ the witness calls and messages.”

SEE ALSO: British Tourists Barred From Entering U.S. Over Tweet About ‘Destroying America’

While police have seen success, citizens of Germany aren’t so sure of the department’s new suspect identification method. Some are concerned the wrongly accused may face undeserved public scrutiny that suspects wouldn’t receive if the photographs were kept confidential. Additionally, photofits — the digital method of constructing a suspect’s image based on a witness’ description — aren’t always accurate.

What do you think of law enforcement’s use of social media in Germany? Tell us in the comments below.

[via The Next Web]

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Flickr, Keith Allison

More About: crime, Facebook, germany, mashable video

April 10 2011

November 19 2010

Google Street View Comes to 20 German Cities

After being launched as a preview two weeks ago in the small town of Obesthaufen, Google Street View imagery is now available in Germany’s 20 largest cities, including Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.

Google has been struggling to prove that Street View is not a privacy threat, especially after it was discovered that Google’s Street View cars collected (inadvertently, Google claims) Wi-Fi data from unencrypted networks.

The launch of the service in Germany has been particularly important for Google, since the country is very sensitive to privacy-related issues. To prevent possible complaints, Google had asked Germans whether they want to opt out of the service ahead of the launch, and the properties of more than 240,000 households that have chosen to do so have been blurred out of the imagery.

More About: germany, Google, street view

For more Tech coverage:

October 21 2010

240,000 German Households Opted Out of Google Street View

In Germany – a country very sensitive to privacy-related issues – people have been asked whether they want to opt out of Google’s Street View by having their house blurred in the imagery before the service is launched.

According to Google, 8,458,084 households in 20 of the biggest cities in Germany have had the chance to opt out of Street View since April 2009, and 244,237 households have chosen to do so, which represents 2.89% of the total number.

The households were initially able to opt out either by writing a letter to Google, but a few months ago Google introduced an online tool that makes the process easier. Unsurprisingly, Google claims that about two out of three opt-outs came via the online tool.

While 244,237 may seem like a high number, the percentage of the households which chosen to have their house blurred on Street View is fairly low and gives Google further reassurance that the Street View service is not the privacy time bomb it seemed to be. The service caused privacy concerns from the very beginning, but the privacy issues really came into the spotlight after Google admitted its Street View cars had collected payload data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Google plans to launch Street View for the 20 biggest cities Germany in a couple of weeks, but warns it won’t immediately be able to fulfill all opt-out requests, due to technical reasons – for example, some households failed to give Google a precise location of their house. According to Google, households whose house is visible can still opt out of the service after the launch by using the “report a problem” tool in Street View.

More About: germany, google street view, privacy

For more Tech coverage:

January 15 2010

German Government: Stop Using Internet Explorer

In a statement issued today, the German Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (known as BSI) recommends that all Internet Explorer users switch to an alternative browser. They may resume using Explorer after a fix is issued by Microsoft for a critical vulnerability that has been implicated in the Chinese cyberattack against Google.

If you missed it, yesterday McAffee released a report outlining details of the cyber assault on Google and around 20 other major technology companies. It specifically implicates a critical flaw in all versions of IE that allows hackers to “perform reconnaissance and gain complete control over the compromised system.” Microsoft has responded that it is developing an update to the vulnerability.

According to the statement from BSI, even running Internet Explorer in “protected” mode is not enough to prevent a hacker from exploiting this security flaw.

IE, while the world’s most popular browser, has been steadily losing marketshare over perceptions that it is slower and less secure than rival browsers, especially Firefox. This incident won’t help.

The full statement, translated via Google, is below:

Translated Statement from Germany

“In Internet Explorer, there is a critical yet unknown vulnerability. The vulnerability allows attackers to inject malicious code via a specially crafted Web page into a Windows computer to infiltrate and set up. The last week became known hacker attack on Google and other U.S. companies has probably exploited the vulnerability.

Affected are the versions 6, 7 to 8 Internet Explorer on Windows systems XP, Vista and Windows 7 Microsoft has released a security advisory in which it discusses ways of minimizing risk and is already working on a patch to close the security gap. The BSI expects that this vulnerability will be used in a short time for attacks on the Internet.

Running the Internet Explorer in ‘protected mode’ as well as disabling scripting Acitve Although more difficult to attack, but it can not completely prevented. Therefore, the BSI recommends to switch to the existence of a patch from Microsoft to an alternative browser.

Once the vulnerability has been closed, the BSI will provide information on its warning and information about public-CERT. Keep informed about the civic-CERT and the BSI warns citizens and small and medium enterprises from viruses, worms and vulnerabilities in computer applications. The expert analysis of the BSI around the clock, the security situation in the Internet and send alerts when action is needed and safety information via e-mail.”

Tags: germany, internet explorer, software

January 14 2010

Twitter Grows Internationally, But Very Few Use Location [STATS]

New data from social media analytics firm Sysomos shows that despite the U.S. traffic flatline, Twitter is still growing in popularity internationally.

Whereas in June of last year the U.S. accounted for 62 percent of all active Twitter users, that number has fallen to 50 percent. Significant growth in countries like Germany, Brazil and Indonesia has contributed to Twitter’s burgeoning international user share over the past six months.

Brazil’s growth from 2 percent to 8.8 percent puts it in second place behind the United States for active Twitter users. The UK is close behind at 7.2 percent. Drilling down into users by city, London, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, New York City and Chicago make up the top five in terms of unique users, but New York contributes the most total tweets at 2.37 percent. The data above was compiled from a study of more than 13 million unique Twitter accounts active between October 16 and December 16, 2009.

Another interesting reveal from the study is how startlingly few Twitter users have enabled the location feature that allows geographic information to be attached to their tweets. Only a paltry 0.23 percent of 10 million tweets Sysomos looked at this week were tagged with their locations.

The geolocation feature has only been live to all since November, though, so it may just take some time for the concept to reach people — and for third parties to build features that really take advantage of the location information. For now, it seems that not many people feel there’s a compelling reason to enable the location service just yet.

Surely Twitter’s push to launch its various language versions, including German, Italian, French, Spanish and Japanese, has contributed to its international growth spurt. Do you think international growth is the key to solving Twitter’s growth problem?

[via ReadWriteWeb]

Tags: Brazil, germany, Indonesia, social media, stats, traffic, twitter, united states

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