Eurotechnopanic

Eurotechnopanic by Jeff Jarvis.

From the post:

I worry about Germany and technology. I fear that protectionism from institutions that have been threatened by the internet — mainly media giants and government — and the perception of a rising tide of technopanic in the culture will lead to bad law, unnecessary regulation, dangerous precedents, and a hostile environment that will make technologists, investors, and partners wary of investing and working in Germany.

I worry, too, about Europe and technology. Germany’s antiprogress movement is spreading to the EU — see its court’s decision creating a so-called right to be forgotten — as well as to members of the EU — see Spain’s link tax.

I worry mostly about damage to the internet, its freedoms and its future, limiting the opportunities an open net presents to anyone anywhere. Three forces are at work endangering the net: control, protectionism, and technopanic.

Jeff pens a wonderful essay and lingers the longest on protectionism and eurotechnopanic. His essay is filled with examples both contemporary and from history. Except for EU officials who are too deep into full panic to listen, it is very persuasive.

Jeff proposes a four-part plan for Google to overcome eurotechnopanic:

  • Address eurotechnopanic at a cultural and political level
  • Invest in innovation in German startups
  • Teach and explain the benefits of sharing information
  • Share the excitement of the net and technology

I would like to second all of those points, but Jeff forgets that German economic and social stability are the antithesis of the genetic makeup of Google.

Take one of Jeff’s recommendations: Invest in innovation in German startups.

Really? Show of hands. How many people have known German startups with incompetent staff who could not be fired?

Doubtful on that score?

Terminating Employees in Germany is extremely complicated and subject to a myriad of formal and substantive requirements. Except for small businesses, employers as generally required to show cause and are not free to select whom to terminate. Social criteria such as seniority, age, and number of dependants must be considered. Termination of employees belonging to certain classes such as pregnant women and people with disabilities requires prior involvement of and approval from government agencies. If a workers’ council has been established, it must be heard prior to terminating an employee in most instances. It is good practice to involve counsel already in the preparation of any termination or layoff. Any termination or layoff will most likely trigger a lawsuit. Most judges are employee friendly and most employees have insurance to cover their attorney fees. SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW advises employers on all issues regarding termination of employment and alternative buyout strategies in Germany.

Notice Requirements: Even if the employer can show cause, the employee must be given notice. Notice periods under German law, which can be found in statutes and collective bargaining agreements, vary depending on seniority and can be more than six months long.

Firing Employees in Germany: Employees can be fired for good cause under extraordinary circumstances. Counsel should be involved immediately since the right to fire an employee is waived if the employer does not act within two weeks. SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW has the experience and expertise to evaluate the circumstances of your case, develop a strategy, and make sure all formal requirements are timely met. [None of this is legal advice. Drawn from: http://www.siegwart-law.com/Sgal-en/lawyer-german-employment-law-germany.html]

That’s just not the world Google lives in. Not to say innovative work doesn’t happen in Germany and the EU because it does. But that innovative work is despite the government and not fostered by it.

Google should address eurotechnopanic by relocating bright Europeans to other countries that are startup and innovation friendly. Not necessarily to the United States. The future economic stars are said to be India, China, Korea, all places with innovative spirits and good work ethics.

Eventually citizens of the EU and the German people in particular will realize they have been betrayed by people seeking to further their own careers at the expense of their citizens.

PS: I wonder how long German banking would survive if the ISPs and Telcos decided enough was enough? Parochialism isn’t something that should be long tolerated.

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