NSA leaks mean Germans no longer trust their own government's online services

NSA leaks mean Germans no longer trust their own government's online services

Summary: In wake of the Snowden leaks, concerns about data security and privacy have risen sharply.

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TOPICS: Security, Government, EU
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In Germany, concerns about data security have led some people to be increasingly sceptical of using online government services, according to recent research.

The study by the Institute for Public Information Management found that 67 percent of those surveyed in Germany said that "lack of data security" directly discouraged their use of e-government services, such as filing their tax returns online. This represents a sharp increase from last year, when only four percent of respondents in the country had the same concern.

The study’s authors cite an increasing awareness of NSA surveillance as a prime reason for the shift.

"Privacy scandals like the current NSA surveillance scandal, and the passing of user data from social networks and other online services have certainly contributed significantly to raising public awareness," the report said.

These concerns, combined with a general level of unhappiness over the services offered, have led to a drop in e-government usage in the country: 36 percent of those surveyed in Germany used said that they were using e-government services, down from 45 percent in last year's survey.

The report, which surveyed more than 6,000 people in six countries, found a varying rate of e-government usage across countries: about 24 percent were currently using egovernment services in the US, while 53 percent used them in Sweden.

Cornelia Rogall-Grothe, Germany's commissioner for information technology, said that the NSA leaks have fuelled privacy concerns among those who would use e-government services.

"The events surrounding the publications by Edward Snowden have created a sharp decline of trust in online services," she said.

"Therefore, cybersecurity and privacy measures in e-government will need to be significantly strengthened in order to recover lost ground."

However, it's not clear what Germany could do to effectively mitigate these concerns. Other privacy initiatives taken in the country in the past few years have presented their own range of security concerns, and in any case have not caught on with a majority of those surveyed in the recent study.

For example, only 27 percent of those surveyed had electronic ID cards, which store biometric data and can serve as electronic signatures for government documents.

Likewise, only 10 percent said that they had a 'De-Mail' account, a domestic email service that was introduced in 2009 and can be used to transmit legal documents over the internet.

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Topics: Security, Government, EU

Michael Filtz

About Michael Filtz

From the day he brought home a modem and dialed in to a local BBS in 1991, Michael has been obsessed with technology and how it enables collaboration. He has a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, and has worked in and around the technology start-up scenes in San Francisco and Berlin.

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3 comments
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  • NSA "IS" spying to the MAX!!

    DUH!!! Go Figure! And we're supposed to trust OUR Government HealthCare website?? RIIGGGHHHHTTTTT!

    NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Disgruntled_MS_User
  • The backlash continues...

    ...and should. But in the end, it's their country and their government. If Germans are dissatisfied with the services their federal, state, and local governments provide, then they can use their influence to try to make things better. It might not work, but if citizens are passive, then failure is guaranteed.

    And the same goes for the rest of us. We need many more citizens in this world and many fewer subjects. The difference is that citizens take responsibility for the well being of their communities, nations, and world to the extent they can do so; subjects don't.
    John L. Ries
  • german spying

    The Snowden leaks are causing people to question how free they are from snooping, and NOT just from American snooping. The various governments of the world got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. The US stepped over the line and hopefully as more and more leaks come (as they will) we will see some more push back.
    garyfizer@...