IT Policy

Merkel's System Reboot

The end of data as we know it?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany has for years allowed data privacy concerns to dictate much of its IT policy. But with the advent of cloud computing, the country realises it must loosen its controls in order to exploit new technologies.

  • Facts


    • Germany’s National IT Summit involves government, industry and academia.
    • Ms. Merkel wants Europe-wide rules on data use and sharing.
    • Many businesses would like to see a single digital market.
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The National IT Summit in Hamburg this week has given the German government good reason to think hard about its information technology policies. Chancellor Angela Merkel has already signalled that she gives high priority to areas such as big data, but businesses worry that she is not taking its IT policy seriously enough. The question likely to dominate the summit is simple: Is it time to turn it off and turn it back on again?

Ahead of the summit, Ms. Merkel told the parliamentary faction of her Christian Democrat party that Germany must take the lead in the “central battle” for big business, according to participants.

And that battle starts now it seems, at least online. Shortly before the summit, the German government heralded a change in course in Internet policies. Unlike with genetic engineering or fracking, it does not want to yield the stage to the skeptics.

When it comes to big data, it seems the issue of data privacy will no longer be in the forefront, replaced instead with the huge possibilities that information banks present. “Germany has the chance for a digital economic miracle,” said IT Minister Alexander Dobrindt in the German parliament. Representatives from the Social Democrats (SPD), which is in coalition with the Christian Democrats, agree. “We don’t need a fear-ridden debate,” said Sören Bartol, deputy faction leader of the SPD.

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