Your Toaster’s Double LifeOn Snowden, social media and your own security in the internet.
Die Erfindung der Informationellen Selbstbestimmung
The invention of informational self-determination
This right served as a guidepost for German data protection legislation, which also had, and still has, international influence. For example, on the new EU Data Protection Regulation, which is due to go into force in 2018. You can argue over how informationally self-determined we can still be in a digitalized world; but ideals can also have an effect.
Der Staat und die Überwachung
The state and surveillance
The BND law is only part of a whole series of state surveillance measures. Data retention, for example, compels providers to store all connection data and to make them available if need be to the authorities. And further legislation is planned. The state here knows only one direction: more!
Neue und alte Kryptokriege
Cryptographic wars, old and new
But today politicians are again up in arms and want to force Apple and WhatsApp to set up backdoors for the authorities and so, inevitably, make encryption insecure. Are we standing at the threshold of the next cryptographic war?
Damit niemand weiß, dass du ein Hund bist
So that no one knows you’re a dog
Yet there is still anonymity on the Net for people who are not averse to effort. Anonymization services such as Tor allow you to effectively conceal your identity. They redirect internet requests through a complex system of encrypted servers until nobody can clearly identify your IP address – that is, your uniquely assignable internet address. If there are still dogs on the Net today, they are using Tor.
Das geheime Doppelleben deines Toasters
The secret double life of your toaster
Bot armies have been around for a long time, but they have never been as large as they are today. It turns out that computerized things can all too easily be “recruited” – that is, hacked – because of badly maintained software. With the internet of things, armies of unknown dimensions have arisen, which have recently managed to bring even important infrastructures used by Twitter and Amazon to their knees. Who knows – maybe your toaster was part of it.
Von weißen und schwarzen Hüten
Of white and black hats
When states want to hack, which now happens, we speak of “cyberwar”. In cyberwar, the state looks for security holes through which to penetrate into computer systems. But only as a black hat. We are still waiting for a white hat in the form of a state.
Willkommen in der Welt der Plattformen
Welcome to the world of platforms
We have manoeuvred ourselves into a dependency in which nothing works without them. States have long been turning to Facebook to solve their problems. Mark Zuckerberg has mutated into a politician; perhaps the most powerful politician in the world – doesn’t he manage the data of two billion people? How can we limit the power of platforms without hurting ourselves? Because few of us want to live in a world without Amazon and Facebook.
And you? Take our self-testand discover whether you're careless or cautious with your data.
Du lebst in deiner eigenen Realität
You’re living in your own reality
In 2011 the American internet activist Eli Pariser warned that our social media behaviour would lead to a distorted perception of reality. Because we always follow or befriend only people we know, we are living increasingly in a “filter bubble”. The common social reality is being lost.
Looking at the political landscape of the United States in particular, the thought doesn’t seem far-fetched. It has never been so easy to curate our perception of the world. Not only are there today an incredible number of new sources; social media tools like Twitter and Facebook also make it child’s play to compile their content.
But isn’t the filter bubble also an expression of a new form of self-determination? And isn’t traditional journalism also a filter? Is there anything like an unfiltered reality at all? Perhaps it is already a start to become aware that we are always living, even offline, in a filter bubble.
Ich weiß, was du nächsten Sommer tun wirst
I know what you’ll be doing next summer
Many people already believe that the behaviour of human beings can be predicted. Such prediction, however, has worked so far only for masses of people, almost never with individuals. For example, data scientists can predict that 26.4 out of a hundred unmarried bus drivers will drink a beer after work – but not which ones will. For purposes of knowing whom to target for after-work beer advertising, however, this suffices.
Der Computer, dein Freund und Herrscher
The computer, friend and master
This technology has just begun to spread, but some scientists are already alarmed: what if artificial intelligence systems become more intelligent than we are? If advances in computer performance continue as they have done, in a few decades artificial intelligence systems could be a thousand times more intelligent than human beings. Let’s hope that they are then nicer to us than we have been to, for example, ants.
Illustrations: Julia Klement
Editor: Jakob Rondthaler
© 2017 Goethe-Institut