The CeBIT trade fair, one of the world’s biggest annual electronics events, opened its doors Tuesday in the German city of Hanover with growing signs of a gulf between the digital industry and many European politicians.
The event, which nowadays focuses on corporate buyers hunting software for jobs such as calculating taxes, finding legal records and keeping out hackers, has adopted as its 2010 slogan: “Connected Worlds.” New software is inventing ways to connect work, travel, education and leisure as vast stores of data become accessible by the internet.
But some of those connections are alarming politicians and other leaders, who see them as a threat to privacy.
Germany’s constitutional court prohibited Tuesday a connection between phone companies and the police, ordering times and destinations of phone calls to be deleted so police could not use the data for anti-terrorism and other inquiries.
Before the event, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged concerned Germans to protest to U.S. search company Google against its panorama photos of German streets for its Street View web service.
Other European leaders have also opposed some of the new internet services from Google.
August-Wilhelm Scheer, head of the German digital industry federation Bitkom and patron of CeBIT, responded with a call to educate politicians, saying they had “not fully grasped” what the internet was about.
He said Monday the German government did not have a clear information technology policy.
Ms. Merkel was touring German stands at the event on Tuesday. The event has about 4,150 exhibitors this year, only half as many as in 2001. Public attendance is also expected to be halved.