Tag: Germany

Social networking marketing might be illegal


thumb-mark-zuckerberg-facebook-pro-4566Using social media
to market products might end up being illegal, according to a German court.

The German courts have looked dimly on a  feature that encourages Amazon customers to share links to products of the online shop with their contacts. The Amazon “share” feature invites customers to share a product via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Pintrest and really it could be part of any consumer marketing operation.

The court said that sharing by e-mail without approval of the recipient was illegal. It is “unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment,” the regional court in Hamm said, confirming the ruling of a lower court in Arnsberg.

The case was brought against one of Amazon’s resellers by a competitor.

The ruling comes after Germany’s highest court ruled earlier this month that a similar feature that encourages Facebook users to market the social media network to their contacts as unlawful.

At the time, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), which brought the Facebook case to court, had said the ruling would have implications for other services in Germany which use similar forms of advertising.

Germany bans not quite Uber alles

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 16.23.53A German court has ordered taxi service Uber to stop operating commercial services and threatened severe fines if the company breaches any transport laws.

A Frankfurt regional court said that if Uber broke the order, it would be fined 250,000 Euro, according to Reuters.

The Frankfurt court hasn’t stopped Uber from operating its service for taxis and limos.

Uber said it will appeal against the decision with its German general manager saying it regretted the decision the court made.

Aber will continue to offer its UberBLACK and UberTAXI services in Germany.

A company called Taxi Deutschland filed the suit against Uber because it would replace qualified taxi driers with unlicensed casual workers.

The judges appear to believe that Uber doesn’t just violate German laws, but European laws too.

 

Amazon expands in EU

FireOnTheAmazonPosterOnline bookseller Amazon has created 6,000 new full-time positions in Europe in 2014 to respond to booming demand.

The company said that it now employed 32,000 permanent staff in the European Union, with the new jobs created in logistics centres, customer service, software development, supply chain management and design.

Amazon vice president for EU retail Xavier Garambois said the company was still investing and will be hiring even more in in 2015.

He said that customer demand in Europe was bigger than ever.

Amazon said around 1,200 of the new jobs were in Germany, its second-biggest market after the United States where it employs 10,000 warehouse staff plus more than 10,000 seasonal workers. Britain had the next most new positions with the rest spread around other countries.

It does not seem that Amazon is particularly concerned about the increased union militancy of its staff in Germany. Last year Amazon was been hit in Germany by a series of strikes over pay and working conditions.

Trade union Verdi has organized frequent strikes since May 2013 to try to force the retailer to raise pay for warehouse workers in accordance with collective bargaining agreements across Germany’s mail order and retail industry.

So far these issues have not been resolved and Amazon insists that its warehouse staff are logistics workers and that they receive above-average pay by the standards of that industry.

 

German government sites hacked

wargames-hackerA number of official Gernan government sites have been hacked by a group that claims affinity with the Russian government’s moves in Ukraine.
According to Reuters, the websites hacked include the pages of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A spokesman for Merkel told reporters that her site was inaccessible from around 09:00 GMT today.
The data centre that hosts the page had come under attack from hackers who are in sympathy with Russia’s views on Ukraine.
A group that described itself as CyberBerkut claimed responsibility for the hacks.
In addition to attacking Merkel’s site, the group also said that it had attacked Bundestag websites too.
Angela Merkel is in London this afternoon to meet British prime minister David Cameron.

 

Hacker clones fingerprints

Ursula von der Leyen - Wikimedia CommonsA German hacker said he cloned the thumb print of defence minister Ursula von der Leyen using little more than an ordinary digital camera.

The BBC said Jan Krissler grabbed several photographs of von der Leyen’s thumb at different angles during a press conference last October.

Although fingerprint recognition is not considered particularly secure, some vendors use them to access devices.

Back in the 2000s, some Japanese banks adopted fingerprints as a chief biometric to access ATMs, but abandoned them after gangsters demonstrated that one way to circumvent security was to chop off peoples’ index fingers and use them to get money from the hole in the wall.

Companies are experimenting with other biometrics such as vein recognition and iris recognition.

Amazon faces strike action

Amazon-Cloud-OutageGerman workers at Amazon warehouses have staged a three day strike – starting today.

They want better pay and conditions and are being backed by trade union Verdi. Reuters said the union expected 2,000 workers to walk out with five of Amazon’s nine distribution centres in Germany affected.

But Amazon claims only a tiny number of workers had taken strike action and 19,000 people in Germany continue to pack their boxes, ahead of the Christmas holidays.

The trade union has staged previous strikes because it wants Amazon to up pay along with collective bargaining agreements in Germany, Reuters said.

But Amazon claims that the people working in warehouses earn more than average pay compared to other people packing boxes and shifting stuff around the massive warehouses.

Germany is Amazon’s second biggest market after the USA.

Amazon invests in German datacentres

amazonsMany people might think that Amazon is where you buy your books, your Hue lights and your CDs but behind the scenes it is  becoming a major player in the datacentre business.

And now, according to the Financial Times, Amazon will build several datacentres in Frankfurt in a bid to allay customers’ fears that their data is housed in places where security and privacy are not as high a priority as in Germany.

The FT reports that the EU has much stricter data protection laws than other territories.  And, of the EU countries, Germany has the best privacy control.

A senior VP of Amazon Web Services told the FT that many of its German customers would prefer to have their data held locally. Although a figure hasn’t been placed on the German infrastructure investment, it’s believed that such a project will require a multimillion dollar investment.

US providers like Google, Rackspace and others compete with Amazon but are based in the USA.  Amazon is believed to generate revenues from its cloud business amounting to over $5 billion during 2014.

Computacenter says “stumble in Germany” resulted in profit loss

poundsComputacenter has reported a four percent profit loss for the full year claiming it “stumbled in Germany”.

The British company said its profits stood at £71.3 million in 2012, compared to £74.2 million in 2011.

It blamed the loss on higher costs from new contracts, which bled into margins in the services business in Germany, its second-largest market by revenue.

And 2013 doesn’t look to be an easy road with the company claiming that this year would be dependant on the speed of recovery from the “problem contracts” in Germany, which it said was unpredictable.

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom with the company reporting group revenues jumping 2.2 percent to £2.91 billion  compared to 2011’s  £2.85 billion.

Mike Norris, Chief Executive of the company said: “We expect 2013 to be a year of progress for Computacenter. While the Group financial outcome for 2013 will be dependent on the in-year performance of Germany and the speed at which we recover from our problem contracts, which is unpredictable, we are confident that these contracts will improve.

“More importantly, winning, contracting and taking on new contracts successfully, is more fundamental to the long-term growth of the business and its strategic development. This will be underpinned by our new Group operating model, which has taken effect in the UK and Germany, since the start of 2013.”