Berlin Day One: Parliment

After the train ride from Paderborn (in which some of us were in an Air Conditioned car and others were not) We headed off to one of the Parliamentary conference rooms where we met with Thomas Jarzombek, a representative from Westphalia who is also the head of the Digital Agenda Committee and an influential member of the leading political party in Berlin.  Thomas meets regularly with Angela Merkel the German Chancellor and in fact we started late because his meeting with her ran late :-)

He  is a member of the  Parliamentary subcommittee  on “new media” and the Enquete Commission on ” Internet and Digital Society ” He told us about some of the USK ratings (Similar to our ESRB) and Federal restrictions on games (no swastikas, limits on excessive violence and the killing of “civilians” in games, etc).  Games are not “Art” in Germany and therefore do not have the same type of protections that they do in the US under the first amendment.

Much of his current focus is on Data Usage and limitations for the EU.  Currently EU countires each have there own.  Ireland has a very loose “User must opt out” of s company making use of their information, which is one of the reasons that companies like Google have headquarters there.  Germany currently has a very strict “Opt In” standard, requiring social networks and live games to ask users for permission each time they implement a new feature or feature upgrade that touches the user data.  Thomas is among those looking for a middle ground standard that can be adopted by all EU countries.

Tona and I told him about the IGM degrees and the MAGIC lab and he was interested to learn about these particular models.  Jorg pointed to the benefits of collaborations with academic exchange and research programs like these between the two countries.

After Thomas left with Jorg for a committee meeting, his Chief Legislative assistant, Hagen stay and continued the Q and A for another fifteen minutes or so.  He also helped us ease through the gates for the tour of the Parliament on Wednesday morning.


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