A storm is brewing over the Atlantic Ocean, and much of it centers around a cell phone.
The Edward Snowden NSA scandal seems to have fallen out of the news cycle in the US (for the time being), but Germans have not forgotten. It was major news in this country when it was revealed that the US government bugged the cell phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Insiders here say Merkel was not at all surprised by the news, but publicly she was outraged. For many Germans it was the final straw in a snowballing bail of digital privacy concerns.
This week we met with Jürgen Hardt, the newly-appointed coordinator of US-German relations at Germany's foreign ministry. He said the scandal remains one of the main points of contention between our countries, even saying that German companies could begin to shy away from American software and technology if privacy standards are not set in place. Their worry is that their data will end up stored on US servers, left vulnerable to attacks or breaches. A "cyber dialogue" conference to hammer out possible international standards for digital privacy is in the works.
In the mean time, some Germans are rushing to take advantage of a landmark court ruling by the European Union that orders Google to remove obsolete personal information from their servers. It will be interesting to see who ends up policing this new frontier.
Despite this dust up, many argue that the America remains Germany's most important ally for a number of reasons. This storm too shall pass, but not before sending down a healthy shower of anti-American sentiment.
Maybe a little ice cream would bring both sides together.
One of my favorite treats here is Spaghettieis (easy translation: Spaghetti ice cream). Sure, it may sound like an oxymoronic recipe for a stomach ache, but it's quite the opposite! Vanilla ice cream is squeezed through a noodle press onto a bed of whipped cream, then topped with "marinara (strawberry) sauce" and "Parmesan (white chocolate) flakes." The finished product looks like a dish straight out of an Italian trattoria, but trust me, your taste buds won't mind the confusion.