Last week Sigmar Gabriel vice president of Germany and leader of the social democrats met with Eric Schmidt executive chairman of Google in Berlin to talk about digitalization. I read about it in detail in the blog of Christoph Keese executive vice president of Axel Springer SE and my personnel counterpart concerning lobbying around the ancillary rights.
Keese is gushing over the – in his eyes – brilliant preparation and the repartee of Garbiel – seeing him as winner on points of most sequences of the dialog. What leads to his example: data protection.
Gabriel: “You recently made proudly public that you caught someone with child pornography. Now everybody would say – thank God! Such people should get caught and their actions prohibited. But in Germany we would say that this is not the duty of a private company. We would rather say that the law – and now I’m talk the old fashioned term – the breach of the law which protects post and distance communication is part of the state monopoly on legitimate violence for the prosecution of such people. If it’s true that you don’t read the mails, how could you know that this person is trading with child pornography? There are two souls dwelling in our breast. We are glad on one hand that this guy is brought to court. But on the other hand we are only guessing what else are you reading?”
Eric Schmidt: “So again. I understand the concerns. If someone says us that someone is doing something illegal, we will deal with that. So in child porn someone would say that there was child pornography. We don’t know how to look with a computer for that. So what happens – someone tells us and then we report it to the authorities and they do what they do.”
So I’m wondering about the claim of Keese. It seems that he is not willing to recognize the response of Schmidt. But perhaps he has his reasons also by closing his piece with a hind on reasonable regulation which now can be expected from Gabriel’s house according to his oppinion.
What puzzles me is that Gabriel is seriously using prosecution of child pornography as it is known that he himself didn’t give much on the juristic procedures – especially the separation of powers. Earlier this year the social democrats where facing a case of child pornography in their own ranks. Gabriel and his party used knowledge of the ascertainments given by the former Interior Minister to take personnel decisions. Otherwise – according to Gabriel – the party would have taken decisions which would be regretted by them heavily and likely.
And it’s not clear how a politician – dealing with child pornography, who can likely expect a higher position in a ministry – reacts on not being considered during personnel decisions. That someone is on the scent and that it’s time to get rid of any evidence is not odd.
So I’m doubting, if Gabriel is in the position to argue like he did. While Google is trying to support the authorities, it’s not proven that Gabriel’s actions were not an obstruction of justice. In addition Gabriel dismissed any political consequences concerning this case. Is this reasonable?