Netzpolitik.org is the widest read German political weblog. The authors, foremost Markus Beckedahl, always take a clear position for privacy, freedom and transparency and against public surveillance, strict copyright laws and security-instead-of-freedom politics. In the German internet sphere they are the strongest voice for open source, creative commons, knowledge sharing, free culture and freedom of expression.
The authors try to raise public interest and awareness for the dangers of surveillance and data collection and the importance of privacy, not only by the police and other executive institutions but foremost by private companies. In Germany, many examples of private data and surveillance abuse have been published in German media recently: customer data by Deutsche Telekom (or T-Com) was sold, Telekom, Lufthansa and Post top managers have been surveilling employees and customers, German retailer Lidl hired private investigators to spy on their employees. These are only a few examples to stress the importance of the said issues.
On saturday, January 31st, Beckedahl published the summary of a conversation between the Berlin data protection officer and Deutsche Bahn top executives reporting about the methods of Network Deutschland, the company hired to spy on employees and customers. This memo was written by the data protection office and anonymously sent to Netzpolitik. The memo is actually pretty boring, Spiegel has way more exciting facts and talks about more than 170 000 people who have been spied on by Deutsche Bahn.
What makes this case exciting is that Deutsche Bahn tries to legally threaten Netzpolitik for making this memo public. A memo which has been cited many times by other media already. Funny enough, the reactions in the blogosphere and by other media in only one day make this memo famous.
And not only bloggers, but basically all citizens, politicians, architects, police men, journalists hope that Bahn CEO Hartmut Mehdorn now will have to go for good. If not for the blogger threat than at least for the spying scandal.