In Germany, taming the web

[smartplanet] As early as 2004, Markus Beckedahl sensed a hole in German public discourse about the internet.

His blog Netzpolitik.org along with Spreeblick.com counted among the first big blogs in Germany, serving as hubs for heated discussions on internet politics, technology and culture. But their mainstream contemporaries weren’t catching on.
U.S.-based companies such as Google and Facebook have come under fire in Europe for multiple privacy and intellectual property rights violations over the past few years, which ignited swift public and political response.

As Germans and other Europeans become more vocal about their concerns and values, the big players have responded. Google funded the opening of the Berlin-based Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society with €4.5 million ($5.8 million) last year. Meanwhile, the company has funded a number of other forums on the subject of privacy including an installment of its Big Tent series this week.

Google also recently opened an official Berlin office, which houses much of its lobbying operations in Germany. Soon to follow in 2013 is the opening of the Factory, a Google-run hub for local upstart companies, with some of Berlin’s biggest success stories such as 6wunderkinder and SoundCloud already slated to take part.

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