Friday 20 April 2018

Now Germany's criticising us for not breaking the rules – huh?

The Punt has always regarded rules as rules. In this, we feel a kinship with our German friends, known as upholders of discipline for the good of all.

So it was with a sense of confusion that we watched Sunday's debate between the leaders of Germany's two main political parties where Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) referenced Ireland in a critical way – not, as one would imagine, for breaking rules, but for following them.

The subject under discussion was the protection of citizens' online data in the context of the whistle-blower Edward Snowden and the US intelligence-gathering system, Prism.

Germany, which is zealously opposed to dilution of its citizens' privacy, aggressively pursues an activist policy in fighting companies such as Facebook and Google in this regard.

Ireland, by contrast, sticks to what is written down in the statute books. That means the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, when asked about what he will do about the Snowden/ Prism revelations, says that there is nothing in law he can do. In other words, he is sticking to the rules.

Ironically, this is not a popular position in Germany, which prefers an activist approach to protecting privacy, regardless of treaties or existing legislation.

The Punt wonders whether this is the first time that the Germans have had a problem with us because we stick too closely to what is set down on paper.

Irish Independent

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