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GNU is Not Unix

German Government donates 250,000 DM to GNU Privacy Guard 113

One of the many ACs wrote in with the news that the German government is donating 250,000 marks (that's about 82,500, or $132,000) to the GNU Privacy Guard project. The article is in German, but the ever reliable Babelfish comes to the rescue.
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German Government donates 250,000 DM to GNU Privacy Guard

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  • I would love to have moderator points right now.

    Hamish
  • Depends on which bit of Europe you're talking about.

    The UK government is apparently about to announce an anti-terrorist bill which includes provisions for law enforcement agencies to insist on the decryption of documents .. with those same agencies defining which files are encrypted. Since any reasonable-length file could potentially contain hidden, encrypted data, that pretty well leaves UK residents at the mercy of the police.



  • I think that it is great news that the German government is supporting a project like this. However Germany does have more restrictions on certain freedoms than we do in the US - I wonder if they have thought the implications of GPG through completely.

    There was a flap recently about amazon.com selling copies of Mien Kampf to German citizens because of their concerns with various forms of Neo-Nazism. I believe they are also struggling with Scientology. Encryption technologies like GPG must be helpful to underground organizations.

    The main difference between Germans and Americans seems to be that Germans like to tell everyone what is wrong with their country, whilst Americans like to say that America is the best country in the world.

    I don't know if it marketing or not. German history during the 20th century probably has an effect on the perception and confidence of its citizens towards any German goverment today. If you look at US history during the 20th century there have been a lot of times where the it's citizens have been pretty critical of the USA as a whole, too. Prior to the election of FDR things were pretty bad in this country. Ditto during the Vietnam war. Even during the 70's when the economy was doing crummy and there was a lot of hangover from Vietnam the average American didn't have a lot of good things to say about the way the country was going. There was a lot of feeling that we had passed out peak and were going to be supplanted by Japan as the leading economic power in the world.

    Since the fall of the Soviet Union and having a very strong economy over the past decade Americans are feeling pretty good about how things are going here. I think it's good to enjoy it - these kinds of things don't last forever.

  • just because it's gnu something-or-other does not mean it's linux... get a clue.
  • The irony occured to me only after posting it. Immediately after posting it occured to me that "right" should have been replaced with "ability" but that the result was not sufficiently awry to merit a corrective posting. I personally am not affiliated with any political party, being more inclined to pick and choose amongst the lizards (HHGTTG reference) of all parties.
  • Wer zu spät kommt, den bestraft das Leben ;-)
  • > Thank god we have an inept government, can you imagine what a working one could do?

    Reminds me of the old American saw, "Thank GOD we don't have the government we paid for!"

    --Corey
  • I had and I did :-)
  • "First of all, the people freely and voluntary gave themselves laws which require the paying of taxes"

    1) It was not unanimous. Some people did not vote for those laws. Thus, it's not voluntary for them. They are still forced to obey laws other people made, through the threat of real and violent force. I do not trust the "majority" to look after the interests of anybody but the majority. The freely elected German government of sixty years ago is proof enough for me.

    2) Did you notice that you used the words "voluntarily" and "require" in the same sentence?

    3) I give myself laws all the time. They're called codes of conduct, morals and self-restraint. But when I "require" other people to obey my codes, morals and restraints, I become a despot.

    I am not arguing against government or against taxes. But there is a point where governments get too much power, and taxes get too high. As one American reactionary and overall wacko (George Washington) once said "Government, like fire, is a helpful servant but a fearful master". When government gets to the point where it is deciding which individual *voluntary* software projects get tax funding, then it is well on the road to becoming a fearful master. When the feudal lords only demanded 10% of their serfs, it makes me wonder how my government views me when it asks for 50%!

    "Secondly, you don't have to pay taxes. Every country I know of has an income threshold below which no taxes are collected."

    Ha! You call this freedom? You give me a choice between destitution and taxation and tell me I'm free because I have a choice?
  • OK, *NOW* I see what they mean by "you can't moderate topics you post in". Of course, I had no idea they'd remove the moderations rather than prevent me from posting. Well, you live and learn--so far, that's the only thing I've learned today.
  • OK, *NOW* I see what they mean by "you can't moderate topics you post in". Of course, I had no idea they'd remove the moderations rather than prevent me from posting. Well, you live and learn--so far, that's the only thing I've learned today.
    I'll go sprinkle some moderation fairy dust elsewhere...

  • France has been doing this for a long time through the DGSE [fas.org].
  • If you are concerned about your government wasting money funding free software, I suggest you turn your attention to proprietary software first. The amount of money government spends buying proprietary software is orders of magnitude greater than the amount of money government spends funding free software.

    You may have a legitimate complaint that the government is funding free software against your will. But supporters of free software are being forced to fund proprietary software against their will. You can't complain about the first abuse and ignore the second much greater abuse.

  • "You can't complain about the first abuse and ignore the second much greater abuse."

    Who says I'm content with tax funding of proprietary software? I am as equally opposed to it. As my dear mother told me, "just because everyone else in the schoolyard is smoking dope doesn't make it right for you also."
  • When you are faced with two opposite abuses of government money, and the second wastes 2-3 orders of magnitude more money than the first, you should by all rights be more concerned about the second abuse than the first.

    How you can show merely equal opposition in the face of orders of magnitude of difference is beyond me.

  • Fifty murders is far, far more horrendous than a single murder. But what if the fifty murders were in a far off city (proprietary software), but the single murder was in your own community (open source software)?
  • Essentially the apparent contradiction in the USA comes down to one thing:

    Privacy is a greater threat than the right to bear arms.

    A group of people, even with modern assault weapons, cannot feasably make a stand against a national police force or army. Privately owned weapons are an inconvenience but not a threat. Strong encryption on the other hand puts information beyond the reach of the government.

    Organised crime/terrorism/dissent is what they are afraid of. A few civilians or police getting randomly killed scarcely even registers in comparison.
  • In every state there are agencies with an interest to have easy access to everything. There is a permanent threat of organized crime using strong cryptography. And some elements of state police would like to have an offical reason to kick in any doors. As pointless as it may be.

    The wind has changed somewhat. Now they are talking about friendly states using espionage to get hold of business plans and new developments. It is not uncommon in Germany to hear a comparison of the NSA/CIA with a high tech STASI (former not-so-nice East-German intelligence).

    GNU software means to become US-independent and the ability to verify it. The BMWI made a strategic move and a political statement. And after all - it is not much money for them anyway
    with huge publicity effect.
  • I'd be curious to see exactly what government agency or arm is giving this money to the GPG project.
    It is the "Wirtschaftsministerium", an american equivalent would probably be the department of commerce. If you look at the more in depth article in telepolis [heise.de] you find the very interesting fact that the same department also plans to release a brochure advocating the use of Linux for small and medium enterprises.
  • by Markee ( 72201 ) on Monday November 15, 1999 @07:04AM (#1531890)
    I would never have expected to say that this is coming from the German government of all places (history aside and all, the modern German government seems to often have it's hands full controlling it's Neo-Nazi and extremist group problem,

    Hey, hey, I think this is overstressed in your media. Neo-nazi and extermist problems take up much more space in news coverage about Germany than it actually should. For one part, it's because foreign countries are extra sensitive for anything right-wing that comes from Germany (for good, historical, reasons). Besides, this extremist thing is one of the few things about German that gives the reader a kind of a thrill which, sadly, often is a reason for news to be reported.
    If you had said that the German government has more important things to care about than Open Source projects because the unemployment is so unacceptably high and gigantic amounts of money go the the absolutely wrong places, I would have agreed.

    If you don't believe me, please remember the Neo-Nazi and extremist problems the U.S. have (Oklahoma bombing, KKK, militia groups, Jewish kindergarten shooting...). I'm not saying Neo-Nazis are no problem in Germany, but I don't think they are a bigger problem than in many other countries -- people just watch closer when it comes to Germany.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The best thing the goverment could do for GPG is to provide an EZ form for renouncing US citizenship and getting German citizenship.
  • by DanMcS ( 68838 ) on Monday November 15, 1999 @07:07AM (#1531892)
    Sometimes I wish taxpayers had the right to tell the government to stop wasting their money.
    The irony of this statement floored me, and I hope you were being sarcastic. Ideally, the government _is_ the taxpayers, and we have every right to do so. The problem is that most people in the US see the political continuum as running between Republican and Democrat. Well, there is only a difference of degrees between the two. Both have their pet projects. Since voters think they have to decide between the two, the only option is which buzzword-project-of-the-month your money will be wasted on next. _Not_ wasting the money is simply out of the question, to the politicians. It's too ludicrous for words.
  • > A sore point with me: my income is in US$ but I carry debt in UKP...

    Ouch! I'm in an analogous situation: I carry debt in US$, and am thus reluctant to move back to Germany until I shake off a substantial amount. Despite my (American) wife liking Europe a lot since the last few visits and wanting to move there. We thought of England as an alternative--what are the IT job prospects there? And earning potential?
  • A very well stated rendition of the facts. The "compromised freedom" of speech thing in Germany is arguably a bad thing, but who can blame them, I guess, after all that happened. After living in the US for going on eight years, I can honestly say that there is a considerably higher percentage of radical elements in this country than in Germany. Yet, of course, Germany wouldn't get away with harboring even a small fraction of these, simply because it IS Germany. The price it must pay for its history.

    Your second paragraph hits the heart of the matter regarding our flourishing economy. Bill loves bragging about the hundreds of thousands of jobs created since he entered office, yet nobody points out that most of these jobs are service positions, often below the minimum wage at McDonald's et al. Personally, as an average earner in the IT industry, I haven't benefitted at all from our economic boom. The truth is, if you have no stake in the stock market, you have no gain in our current boom.
  • The US encryption export policies used to make sense, about 30 years ago, when encryption devices were mainly used by the military and government. The invention of the microprocessor, DES and the proliferation of data networks changed the situation.

    The NSA's nightmare would probably be widespread distribution and adoption of software that would automatically encrypt all data communications, without any effort on the part of the user.

  • However Germany does have more restrictions on certain freedoms than we do in the US

    Hmm, let's see now:

    Germany: Illegal to claim that the holocaust never took place.
    USA: Illegal, for three years of your adult life, during which you could be drafted and sent to die, to drink beer.

    Germany: Roads that don't actually need speed limits don't have them.
    USA: Ermmm...

    Germany: Relaxed attitude to controlling the media.
    USA: There's no law against most forms of content in the media, but you just watch the drop in advertising revenue if you offend various pressure groups.

    Random drug tests in the workplace? Laws preventing the consumption of alcohol in public? Which country has those? Personally, I'd rather put up with laws that prevent me being a Nazi than ones that actually infringe on my everyday life. I do think it's unfair that Germany still has national service (for males), but since I'm not a German citizen, it doesn't worry me too much.

  • The UK is a bit quiet at the moment, especially contracting, and most jobs are in London, which is VERY expensive. Holland (3% unemployment), Belgium and Portugal all seem to have a reasonable amount of IT jobs with good pay. Also Switzerland.
  • There was an article at slashdot about quantium computing efforts funded EC. They claim that it is possible to solve prime number factoring problem at resonable time if quantium logic gate is created. Maybe they have done some progress on it. On other hand I may be just too parnoic.
  • As to American economic wellbeing, it seems to me that it is more talked about than felt. Sure, a lot of money is being made, but this boom is remarkably unequal in the way its rewards are distributed, and seems to be biting hard into job security. In terms of economic fundamentals it doesn't look so hot either: productivity growth is running at little more than half that of Europe, a high proportion of new jobs are in the `casual work' sector, and the US has a rather worrying balance of payments deficit.

    One can always find a bad statistic. The fact is that we are enjoying the longest unbroken economic expansion in the history of the US.

    Sure, the balance of trade deficit is high right now, but the reason is not a failing in the US economy, but rather a drop in demand particularly from the far east due to the collapses there. As these economies are starting to recover we are seeing a decline in the negative balance of trade. These deficits while threatening to the US economy have been very important to the stabilizing of the economies of many nations during the past year.

    European productivity is currently averaging a gain 22% higher (not anything like twice) than the US rate of increase over the past 15 years. However over the past 2 1/2 years the US productivity rate increase is higher than Europe's, and it is already starting at a level 25% higher per capita than in Europe. In the last quarter it was at an amazing 4.2% rate. What is really astounding is that this is occurring late in the economic cycle where productivity gains usually fall or even go below zero. Europe on the other hand is much earlier in their cycle and given their much higher unemployment rate should be expected to be higher than the cycle weighted average.

    The issue of service sector jobs having low pay is one that was bandied about a lot in the 80's - however what has happened during this economic cycle is that the service sector has gained in average wage much faster than the manufacturing sector with a resulting close in the gap in pay. The low wage jobs that are available now are just not getting filled because the unemployment rate is so low. On an anecdotal level my son has to walk to school now because the school district was unable to hire a bus driver for this school year.

    In any economy there will be individuals who do better than others. Once concern in the US is that because we have a very heterogeneous makeup these economic disparaties can seem extreme. But it is certain that even at the low level of the economic scale things are better. Welfare roles are at all time lows. The percentage of people living below the poverty line has been dropping for the first time since the 80's. Unemployment (which affects the lower part of the economic spectrum) is at 30 year lows. And the benefits are more widespread than ever. Fully 50% of american households have some participation in the stock market, an all-time high.

    In terms of job security, I agree with you that it has decreased. Few workers spend 20 years with one employer any more. On the other hand job efficiency has improved considerably in the past few years. In fact studies have shown that the low unemployment rates we currently have are due to a reduction in the average time one is unemployed after losing a job.

    Some statistics on productivity are available at:

    http://www.ilo.org/public/english/235press/pr/19 99/29.htm

    You may also be interested in a recent speech by Michael Moskow President, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

    http://www.frbchi.org/speeches/06_17_99.html

    • The german goverment not only officially supports crypto
      it canceled almost all export regulations!
      German Cryptosoftware freely exportable [heise.de] (in german)
    • The day the american goverment is changing its crypto policy
      is the day more german than american crypto products are sold in the us.

    Sometimes capitalism is just great!

    klaus
  • It makes lots of sense -- from a purely economic view -- to support the development of free software. That can easily end up saving tax-payer money.

    In this case however, the idea probably is that a better software infrastructure will promote business in general, which is the purpose of this particular branch of government.
  • You call this freedom? You give me a choice between destitution and taxation and tell me I'm free because I have a choice?

    If the income threshold in your country is such that it implies destitution, then indeed you don't have a choice, and the threshold needs to be fixed in order to restore freedom of choice. I don't know where you live, but I know that in the US one can live comfortably below the income tax threshold, because I did it as a graduate student. I didn't own a car or a TV or a computer or a phone (I still don't). I was not destitute.

    --

  • The data I quoted come from the first URL above which is a report published 9/1999 by the ILO. The stats listed there don't come close to a 2% per year productivity gain for continental Europe over teh 1980-1997 reference period.

    A part of this is that the US began a huge investment in IT around 1995 that is still continuing. Some economic planners believe that this is the reason for the recent spurt in productivity growth. While it may not continue forever - and the lateness of the economic cycle is a big reason why other sectors are declining in productivity now - there has been no corresponding such investment in Europe which casts a lot of doubt as to whether they will see the same productivity increase.

  • > I'd be curious to see exactly what government agency or arm is giving this money to the GPG project.

    None. The BMWi (I guess that would be something like the ministry for commerce or something like that in the US) just found a worthy target (GPG) for the money and a donator willing to help. The donator is a firm named Linuxland.

    ---sarcasm on---
    I don't think there would have been money from the government for something like that. The lobby for that is to small to matter. Only big industries like the automobile or tobacco industry get financial aids worth mentioning. :-(
    ---sarcasm off---

    (This information is from the article which is referenced from the original article.)
  • This is good news. No, strike that, this is awesome news. Not only does GPG have financial backing to pursue their excellent project, they have a vote of confidence and support from a government grant/donation. I'd be curious to see exactly what government agency or arm is giving this money to the GPG project.

    I think the best part is that this confirms my faith that there are governments in this world committed to privacy and protecting their citizen's rights. I would never have expected to say that this is coming from the German government of all places (history aside and all, the modern German government seems to often have it's hands full controlling it's Neo-Nazi and extremist group problem, and thus would be unlikely to be an ardent proponent or supporter of encryption software projects). Maybe somebody who is German and can read the article and explain a bit more will enlighten me and the rest of us /. readers.

  • I don't have the URL handy but it showed how various contries rate in terms of encryption and what not. Can someone provide it? I want to see how Germany ranked inregards to other countries. This should definatly raise them a few points.
    "We hope you find fun and laughter in the new millenium" - Top half of fastfood gamepiece
  • Will be ready in a few minutes. Just wait.

    ------------------
  • For anyone who can't get it to Babel, basicly they're contributing funding to improve the interface, develop for multiple OSen and add capability to mail clients to use it. Also, it seems this is an initial investment, not just a one-time thing.

    This is amazingly cool. A government that is going to support Open Source security tools as an end in itself due to transparency of the source, reliability and I'd assume economic benifits as well.

    Paul
  • Try this site: http://www.freetranslation.com/
  • by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Monday November 15, 1999 @06:03AM (#1531918) Homepage
    Here's my attempt at a translation. Sorry, English is not my first language.



    German government fosters open source

    The open source project "GNU privacy guard" (GPG) led by the German developer Werner Koch shall receive a financial aid of 250,000 DM by the German Ministry for Enonomy and Science (BMWi) this year. More funds and similar actions shall follow next year. The German government wants to tap the potential of open source development within the area of security related software and hopes to set a signal effect by supporting open source.

    The second focus shall be supporting open source projects within security related software projects that the BMWi hope to help increase transparency and reliability of future security products. The core question, according to Ulrich Sandl of the BMWi, is how to increase the transparency of security technology: "It is almost impossible for small to medium businesses today to judge the actual security value of an encryption product."

    An important step shall be the support for GPG. "The concept of GPG might help to create a tool that can be used as public domain software without any restrictions for all members of a society - the state, businesses and private users alike can get free access for no charge," says Hubertus Soquat, referent for IT security at the BMWi.

    The financial aid for GPG shall mainly be used to create comfortable user interfaces for GPG and to port the tool for various operating systems, various mail clients etc.


    Original German article by Stefan Krempl.

    ------------------
  • Entry #72 in "Why Europe seems ever-more attractive as a place to live": some of the governments seem actually interested in protecting their citizens' rights.

  • by ruud ( 7631 ) on Monday November 15, 1999 @05:55AM (#1531921) Homepage
    (disclaimer: i'm dutch, not german)

    Before the end of the year, the open source project GNU privacy guard (GPG), coordinated by the programmer Werner Koch from Dusseldorf, will receive a financial injection of DM 250,000 from the federal department of economy and technology. With this, the federal government wants to unlock the potential of open source for privacy and hopes to make a statement with the gift.
    --

  • The Germans are infringing on our god given rights to spy on other countries. I find this most distressing! What if other countries followed suit? Within months we might not be able to listen in on ANYONE's communications and our spies would actually have to WORK for a living again, infiltrating companies and governments like they had to do in the Bad Old Days! The Germans must be stopped AT ONCE!

    ;-)

  • One would think that the US is the most freedom loving country in the world. Whenever one of their god-given rights (such as the right to bear arms) is threatened, tons of people (ranging from stark raving mad to actually very reasonable) get up and scream. Yet, the US government can not get itself to use/apply reasonably (and realistic) encryption policies when dealing with it's citizens.

    Now Germany (yes, I do know what I'm talking about), a country which in which I always assumed politicians lived in even darker ages than their US counterparts, shows us how it can be done. Maybe in a few decennia we'll all be able to look back at this and wonder why it wasn't obvious that encryption/privacy is (or should be) a fundamental human right in the electronic age.

  • I would appreciate it, if you would at least to me the courtesy of quoting me correctly:

    I said: Now Germany (yes, I do know what I'm talking about), a country which in which I always assumed politicians lived in even darker ages than their US counterparts

    Which you quoted as: Now Germany is a country that I always assumed lived in the darker ages

    which is quite a difference. BTW, I never said I was a US citizen (and I'm not). Then again, why do I even both replying to an AC???

  • This has -absolutely nothing- to do with German companies and German parliamentary representitives having confidential e-mail snooped on by Echelon, honest!

    Seriously, whatever the underlying reasons, this is great news! That the German Government would wish to make a statement, by putting it's money where it's mouth is, is a significant step, both in terms of politics as a whole, and in terms of privacy in general.

    What's more, this would seem to be a ringing endorsement of Open Source software, by the government of one of the most powerful countries in the world today.

  • by kris ( 824 ) <kris-slashdot@koehntopp.de> on Monday November 15, 1999 @07:15AM (#1531930) Homepage
    This summer there has been the conference Wizards of OS [mikro.org] in Berlin. One day before that conference there has been an expert hearing of the German Minstry of Commerce (BMWi) about Open Source. The meeting has been initiated by Ulrich Sandl [heise.de] (BMWi), who was unable to attend in person due to an accident.

    They managed to get into contact with german developers of the KDE Team, the Apache Team, the Linux Kernel, the Mutt mailer, the GPG and OpenPGP projects and other key Open Source projects. Also attending were CEOs or key people from companies which were actually earning money with Open Source based business models. After that meeting, there has been a fruitful discussion between multiple supporters of the Open Source Scene in Germany and the BMWi.

    The BMWi was particularly interested into ideas on how to create a supporting infrastructure for Open Source development without destroying the current structures and without creating a culture shock or the impression of a governmental takeover of Open Source development. They also learned first time about the dangers of Software Patents and were quite shocked to learn that Software Patents were seen as an obstacle, and not as a good thing by the Open Source devlopment scene.

    The donation to the GPG project is the first in a number of actions in a governmental plan which are the direct or indirect result of this meeting. Exspect further investment and support for Open Source projects from the German Government as well as the donation of ressources and services where needed.
    © Copyright 1999 Kristian Köhntopp
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 15, 1999 @07:16AM (#1531931)
    This is GREAT news. It does, however put the German government on a direct collision course with the United States, which seems determined to create a worldwide Police State. Now that the Germans and other European countries are openly and directly exploiting the "loophole" in Wassenaar (sp?) that allows for strong PD crypto, the US Gov't will be furious.

    Expect a lot of backroom "diplomacy" (bribes and various kinds of strongarming) to be used by the United States against Europoean governments to tighten up Wassenaar now.

  • Oops: forgot to censor my +1 bonus... I meant that remark tongue-in-cheek. Freedom of speech is well defended in the US, and is compromised in Germany (as well as some other European countries) by anti-fascist and anti-anti-semitic laws (Holocaust denial is illegal, as are the Protocols of the Elders of Zion). Privacy is well-defended, as is the right to disobey a superior on moral grounds (fear of the `just following orders' defence).


    As to American economic wellbeing, it seems to me that it is more talked about than felt. Sure, a lot of money is being made, but this boom is remarkably unequal in the way its rewards are distributed, and seems to be biting hard into job security. In terms of economic fundamentals it doesn't look so hot either: productivity growth is running at little more than half that of Europe, a high proportion of new jobs are in the `casual work' sector, and the US has a rather worrying balance of payments deficit.

  • This might shed a little light on government codebreaking capabilities overall. If the German Government thinks encryption of this caliber is worth supporting, it may be an indicator of what governments can break and what they cannot.

    Of course, there's no way to know whether the German Government is familiar with the capabilities of, say, the NSA, but one would think they'd have more info than the average Joe Citizen.

    And the opposite interpretation would be that the German Government might know how to break codes like these (or is working with someone, say, the NSA, who can) and wants to make this sort of encryption widespread so they will have access.

    Then again, maybe they're just being really cool :^)

    Kythe
    (Remove "x"'s from

  • So how much longer until Germany get declared a "rogue" state by the USA for "aiding and abetting in terrorist activities" and undermining the Pentagon's domination of the world? Seems like a brave bold move for a NATO ally to stick it to Uncle Sam like this.
  • Janet Reno already wrote to the german government. You can find the letter on the Heise/Telepolis website [heise.de]. They have a commentary article [heise.de] as well as the original letter [heise.de]. Telepolis' writer Christiane Schulzki-Haddouti covers the whole Echelon and ENFOPOL [heise.de] (english URL [heise.de]) thingy in a special Telepolis section. If you do not read German, this woman is a single, very good reason to do so.
    © Copyright 1999 Kristian Köhntopp
  • The German counterpart of Janet Reno already received this letter end of may 99. Basically they refused to follow the arguments of the US government - so go out and have some nice German beer ;-)
  • *B*undes *M*inisterium (Federal Ministry) für *Wi*rtschaft (Economy)

    ------------------
  • actually the german government has no interest to help the nsa by breaking encrypted messages. since the nsa seems to espionage german companies, these companies have a vital interest for encrypting their data. do you really think the nsa wants to stop the export of encryption technology because of the fear that terrorists might use it? no, imho there is only one answer: strong encryption makes their spy job much harder! international versions of the netscape browser have only the 40bit des encryption, that is unacceptable for sending confidential data.
  • My guess is that, by the end of next year, we could see FreeSWAN, GPG, OpenSSH and OpenSSL all getting similar cash injections.

    Only if the developers live in Germany.. so if you live in Germany and are interested in working on these projects.. this might be a really good time to start. It might take a few years of major contribution to get the name, but if you are interestedanyway then that sould be worth it.

    Jeff
  • What you are talking about is plausable deniability. The SegFS filesystem (compatible with ext2) will do a better job then the test.file mathod. It provides multiple layers of encryption and it is impossible to prove a higher layer exists from a lower layer since it puts random crap in any block that it erases.

    jeff
  • Am I the only one disturbed that tax money is funding this development? Sure, taxes support bunches of stuff, both necessary and unecessary. But this is Free Software!

    People should, and must, have the freedom of choice to select the software that they use. But the collection of taxes is not voluntary. Anyone working on a Free alternate to GPG is forced to fund their competition.

    Can't we develop this stuff on our own without the help of Big Brother? Do we really need a subsidy?
  • Sorry, a misinformation. I misread the article stating the part about Linuxland. Linuxland is going to finance some connected activities and projects. The 250.000 DM are from the BMWi (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft = Ministry of Economics).

    (Sorry again, next time I will not post at 01.45 am...)
  • This is to protect EU industries from the US's use of its suveillance technology to give US-based companies an industrial lead.

    I'm curious whether any non-US countries have done this as well (no, this is not an attempt at a "well, everybody does it" argument - I'm just curious whether the US is the only major power indulging in that sort of activity).

  • Your source on productivity sounds unimpeachable, but I rather trust my own sources as well: the productivity figures are based on figures provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and reported by Preamble centre [preamble.org] thinktank. They are partisan, but have pretty solid economic credentials. I have emailed them about the conflict in data, and shall report back their reply.


    As for the analysis of the recent productivity spurt, that is provided by the Commerce Department and was widely reported. It seems productivity figures have succumbed to Moore's Law, which I would say undermines their usefulness.

  • I haven't heard back to my last email, but I did a back of the nvelope calculuation which shows that the Preamble figures are in line with the ILO figures. There is no conflict between the two.

  • My figures are average growth in labour productivity since 1974: US is at 1.1%, Germany 1.9% and continental Europe averages 2.0%. The US *has* been doing rather better over the last 2 1/2 years, but there are reasons to fear the underlying health of this productivity growth: namely it is almost entirely powered by the IT sector (which shows maginificent growth, around 40% year on year for the past 12 months). Apart from IT and agriculture, all sectors of the US economy show *decline*. This profile of growth does not look sustainable to me, pace Moskow.


    Wage inequality: between 1945 and 1972 wage differentials between the 90th and 10th percentile varied very little. Since 1980 they have driven apart, and the rate of divergence has been itself been increasing over the past five years. Again such a trend does not look sustainable, but it suggests a permanent shift in the distribution of the rewards of the economy that far more favours the wealthiest than was the case thirty years ago, and without wishing to discuss the justice of this state of affairs, it is a statistic that should be more widely reported. It is also by no means clear that the situation at the bottom of the wage scale is better, if by bottom you mean the lowest 20% which has seen average wealth decline since 1990.


    As for the budget deficit, it is extraordinary how little discussion this important figure has seen. It is not merely a result of declining demand in the far east, but naturally is also driven by monetary policy at the Fed. The trade deficit is sitting at about 3.5% of GDP, a level which makes current foreign exchange policy look difficult to sustain by export growth. A sore point with me: my income is in US$ but I carry debt in UKP...

  • FYI -

    250,000DM ~ $132,000US
    250,000DM ~ $192,750CDN

    These values dance around a fair bit (naturally) but are more-or-less accurate at time of this writing. Conversions are courtesy of The Universal Currency Converter [xe.net] (don't do transcontinental net.biz without it!)

    --
    rickf@transpect.SPAM-B-GONE.net (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

  • Federal Government helps Open Source

    The Open-Source-Project GNU Privacy Guard (GPG), coordinated by the Programmer Werner Koch from Düsseldorf, will get a financial injection of DM 250k from the Federal Ministery of Economy and Technology (BMWi). More Measures and Money should follow next year. The federal government wants to open the potential of Open Source for security and hopes for a signal effect.

    The second big focus is the help for Open-Source-Projects, where the BMWi hopes for more Transparency and Reliability, mainly in the area of security. According to Ulrich Sandl, responsible for "Dialogs with social groups and IT-security", the main question is how the transparency of security processes can be improved: "Mainly for medium-sized companies, it is nearly impossible to determine the value of an encryption product". (Translator's comment: value == nil if for US Export...)

    A major part is the help for GPG. "With the concept of GPG, a tool could be made which is freely available as 'public domain'-software (verb.) for all kinds of users - including government, and commercial and private users." says Hubertus Soquat, IT-security expert of the BMWi. The announced monetary injection should mainly help to craft a comfortable UI for GPG and to make adaptions for different OSes and mailclients.

    (Hmm, I wonder if that ministery was named after a brand of car :-)

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@@@yahoo...com> on Monday November 15, 1999 @06:17AM (#1531952) Homepage Journal
    Not just in terms of GPG support, but in terms of online privacy. If some of the rough translations posted here are correct, then this money is earmarked for GPG, but further funds will go towards other security & encryption software.

    My guess is that, by the end of next year, we could see FreeSWAN, GPG, OpenSSH and OpenSSL all getting similar cash injections.

    This can only help people, and the computer industry in particular, and is likely to deal a severe blow to things like the Wassenar Agreement and the US Government's attempts to restrain encryption technology.

  • Germans take a lot of civil rights more seriously than Americans, especially privacy. The main difference between Germans and Americans seems to be that Germans like to tell everyone what is wrong with their country, whilst Americans like to say that America is the best country in the world. More a marketing difference if you ask me...
  • There is a link from the newsticker page to another with the complete article here [heise.de]

    The last paragraph is interesting:

    With the Brochure "Linux in small and medium Businesses:, the BMWi also wants to promote the Open-Source-OS as an alternative to Windows and as a platform for commercial use. In the Brochure, leaders of those businesses shall be told the technological basics of Linux. The BMWi has won the Linux Distributor LinuxLand.
  • ...or almost 250 million lira. Not nearly enough, if you ask me. ;)

    Seriously, the Universal Currency Converter is very cool, and so is GNU Privacy Guard. In fact, I'm in favor of any drop-in replacement that is either faster, produces a better end result, more free, or has better features. And GNU Privacy Guard meets a few of these requirements, just like bzip2 does...
    ---
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    According to this article [mediafilter.org], the NSA and the German intelligence service (the Bundesnachrichtendienst) have in the past convinced large and reputable makers of cryptographic products to introduce secret backdoors in their products.

    Could this donation come with strings attached? :-)

  • Sometimes I wish taxpayers had the right to tell the government to stop wasting their money.
    The irony of this statement floored me, and I hope you were being sarcastic. Ideally, the government _is_ the taxpayers, and we have every right to do so.

    What scares me is that I didn't find that statement sarcastic at all - until you mentioned it. I've pretty much concluded that the US government as a whole doesn't really care about the needs of "average" individual citizens, except maybe for Public Relations purposes - their focus is on large organizations, companies & people with lots of money. The system has been set up to be very resistant to efforts to change it.

  • ..when you think of the effect Microsoft must have on the balance of trade of most developed nations.

    Nice to see Germany supporting an Open Source project. With any luck, next they'll adopt a form of Linux/*BSD as the official OS of the government [SuSE perhaps ?]

  • If only the US government spent one tenth of the amount of money they are currently spending to fight encryption to instead promote it. Then projects like this would have ample funding for the next 100 years.

    Sometimes I wish taxpayers had the right to tell the government to stop wasting their money.
  • It helps that half of Germany has been through strong communist rule (with all the secret spying and interference in business that that includes). From that kind of perspective, you can see that they would value their freedom more than many Americans who don't remember living under tyrany.

    - Michael T. Babcock <homepage [linuxsupportline.com]>
  • I hope other countries like Austria, where Enfopol has been supported by some politicians, will take this as a sign to protect human rights
    there has something to change, especially when the chancellor of Austria has studied computer science(although it is a very long time ago...)
    probably he understands but he is a politician too...
    let's hope the best
  • You probably mean the EPIC report [epic.org] "Cryptography and Liberty 1999 - An International Survey of Encryption Policy".

    Germany is rated [epic.org] GREEN for 1998 and 1999 which "signifies that the country promotes or has expressed support for a policy that allows for unhindered legal use of cryptography, such as adopting the OECD Guidelines." The US [epic.org] ratings, for comparison, are YELLOW/RED (1998) and YELLOW (1999).
  • by grappler ( 14976 ) on Monday November 15, 1999 @08:11AM (#1531965) Homepage
    Here in the US our government is trying as hard as it can to keep encryption out of common use and especially strong encryption.

    And in Germany, the government is DONATING MONEY to an open effort working on strong encryption.

    That makes a statement all right. I hope (because I am naieve) that our government will take note.

    --
    grappler
  • I have a file called "test.file" in my homedir. It is 10Mb out of /dev/random:

    dd if=/dev/random of=test.file bs=1k count=10240

    I can honestly maintain that this is random binary data. However if I do have something to hide, I'll put it in there.

    I recommend that everyone creates a 10Mb "test.file", just to test the Linux random number generator....

    When any one of us gets forced to give up the key to that file (wether there is stuff in there or not), just shout for help on slashdot, and you'll quickly have a few bunch of people who've had a "test.file" on their harddisk just like you, proving that they are just testfiles.....

    Roger.
  • You see how this comment was moderated down just for being a response to a -1 thread? Worse yet, it actually contained some info.

    Expecting the same here, too...
  • But the US is the best country in the world! People are begging to get in. Nobody wants to leave because the rest of the world is full of backwords people who not only don't have flush toilets, but they dump their waste out the window onto whatever passerby happens to be their.

    All goverments other then the US goverment are repressive and corrupt. They won't do anything unless you bribe them, and then only if they are tired of beating/raping their women. Speaking of women, they have even less rights then the average person, it is a right of passage for all young men to rape three girls in one night.

    Rumor has it there is a country north of the US that doesn't have a repressize govermetn, but that is WRONG! The WONDERFUL USA controls ALL of America, that area to the north doesn't ahve enough population to become a state yet, but we keep them around because the fishing is so good for God's own people, the AMERICANS!

    And beware, Some communists have put this place called South america on some maps. They are lieing, such a place doesn't exist, because the US doesn't controll it, and the great USA controls ALL of America. Thats why America is in our name, may it forever be blessed.

"It's the best thing since professional golfers on 'ludes." -- Rick Obidiah

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