Public Parts excerpt: Germany and privacy

Here’s another free excerpt from Public Parts, this one about the Germans and privacy. Here is the text (click on the link directly below or on the full-screen button in the app to read at a civilized size):

“Germans” from Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis

  • Just to pick up from twitter “maybe a joke but not an argument” regarding “Which made me realize that the Germans care deeply about the privacy of everything … except their private parts.”

    That comparison does not work. If I expose myself nude in a sauna, then I am doing this on my own choice. So I deliberately choose to be seen like that in a confined public area (as the sauna is not the open public but a limited public). But if someone takes pictures of me somewhere in public and publishes them without asking, then I am exposed to the public without having the choice and thereby maybe against my will.

    Being in an public event where I have to know that it will be covered by the media and I might be photographed or filmed and shown, that’s a different pair of shoes. Here again its my choice to join that event or not. But if I attend I have to live with the possibility of being published.

    Maybe the Germans care to much about their privacy, where the US-people care to less. Maybe.

  • if we walk down the street and someone takes a picture of us doing so and posts it somewhere on the net… it is only a testimony of something that happened in public and some other people could have seen from their windows, cars… the public sphere -here we go, Habermas- got mediated and delocalized the day internet appeared, and more so, when we all started carrying smatphones.

    living, as I do, in Germany but coming from another european country, I think this controversy is a local one, closely related to the German concept of self and privacy.

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  • Hans

    It’s not only Germans, Jeff: Dave Winer now writes: “Facebook is scaring me”

    It obviously needs some time for “journalists” to fully understand the technical details of tracking cookies.

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  • Chrysanna

    Nice utopia (which I must admit that I’m personally a very big fan of). But what about the small detail that not everyone on the planet feels friendly towards western society and wants us to live long and prosper? Why is the discussion about public versus private, black or white? We must be able to talk about shades – you can’t totally discard safety issues and all that..?

  • Lisa

    I think two things are missing in the story with the Germans and Google Street view: (I am Austrian-Canadian)

    1.there is a registration law so that everybody who lives somewhere has to report and prove where they live. the addresses are now collected in a central database. Same in Austria.

    So, with Google streetview over there, everybody can check out your house… some people don’t want that. And – people are nasty, at least basically – so they do go check it out and then backstab…

    2. the term privacy in English (yes, originating in good old Britain) and in German is very different. “In public” means in the street in German, but in English that could be inside a bar with one person present only, right? some friends and I were talking about swinger clubs, public vs private nudity etc. Anyway, offenses relating to doing something – whatever – wrong in the public, are hardly happening nor registered in today’;s Austria and Germany. People don’t care that much.

    Then, there was this old health movement, and on part of it were the naturists. In Germany and a few other countries.

    • That’s only partly right. Our address databases are not public per se. You can get address data only if you have a “berechtigtes Interesse” meaning a obvious reason for the need of the data. (which can be commercial, of course) Every citizen can forbid the city from giving his data out to the public. “Sperrung”. Also, in Germany address data is not centralized but held in municipal databases – no central Bundesland (state) or nationwide data collection does exist (yet) This is quite different from other European countries like Austria or Sweden, Finland and so on.