Like many government officials appointed to oversee digital technology initiatives, the EU’s new commissioner designate for digital economy and society is being criticized for his apparent lack of knowledge about tech.
Günther Oettinger, the former EU energy commissioner, was appointed to the new role by European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker on Sept. 10. Since then European parliament members have been calling him a “misappointment” and saying things like, “I cannot expect much from Oettinger. He hasn’t previously demonstrated any expertise in the area.”
Oettinger himself said that in the new role, his 16-year-old son “would become my honorary adviser, I expect.”
Though he may not know the turf well, by his own admission, he still has plenty to say.
If someone is stupid enough as a celebrity to take a nude photo of themselves and put it online, they surely can’t expect us to protect them. Stupidity is something you can only partly save people from. ...We can mitigate or even eliminate some risks. But like with any technology, you can’t exclude all risks.
First of all, Oettinger doesn't seem to get that the celebrities whose nude photos were recently leaked from iCloud were maliciously hacked—they weren’t just using “1234567” or “password” as their passwords. Second of all, it’s problematic that Oettinger seems to think that only very intelligent people deserve privacy protection. And finally, storing private photos in a private storage service isn’t exactly the same as “putting it online.” This wasn’t a Weinergate-type mistake.
Parliament member Jan Philipp Albrecht told the Guardian, “He revealed that he still hasn’t understood the real problem behind these leaked pictures. Serious questions need to be asked about the security of cloud systems ...[which] is very much part of the job remit of the next EU commissioner for digital society.”
Oettinger’s office said Tuesday, “Everyone has the right to privacy. The European commission called for a European cloud strategy in 2012 and continues to campaign for safe cloud computing.”