10 alfaview rooms for 30 days, free of charge.
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Securing Germany as a technology nation is a top priority for the German government. Nevertheless, it has been evident for years that the leading innovations in the IT sector are predominantly coming from Silicon Valley.It is reasonable and right to work together worldwide and to further advance globalization – but all this must take place within the legal framework that corresponds to our European and democratic standards.
In Germany, it is currently socially acceptable to use systems from so-called third countries (such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex), even though the ECJ ruled more than two years ago that the use of US systems within the European Union is in general not legally possible.
How can it be that systems from US providers can be used in Germany by companies, state governments, ministries and other public institutions, even though they transfer sensitive data to countries that have a different legal interpretation than Germany and the European Union? Are laws or regulations binding if a deliberate decision is made to use US systems in Germany despite the legal provisions?
We kindly ask you to respond to this question: Are public institutions, companies and schools in Germany allowed to use systems where data is processed in third countries with no comparable level of data protection?
In Germany, personal data is protected by laws such as the German Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG) or the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Data from companies or public institutions also enjoy special protection in Germany, for example under the Unfair Competition Act (UWG) or the Trade Secrets Protection Act (GeschGehG). However, not all countries have comparable legal standards. If IT systems are used in Germany or the European Union by institutions or companies from so-called third countries (e.g., the USA), they must comply with European legal requirements.
The key issue here is that a "data subject/entity" is entitled to information about the whereabouts of the data and must also have the opportunity to take legal action. The GDPR ensures this within the European Union. However, the situation is quite different when companies or public institutions use systems that are not from the EU and that transfer data to countries that the European Union has not concluded mutual legal assistance agreements or other treaties with in order to ensure European data protection standards.
With the CLOUD Act, a law was adopted under the administration Trump that forces US companies to disclose any data from companies, institutions and their users to intelligence agencies – even if the subsidiary is located in Germany. In almost all cases, access to the data happens under secrecy to the data subject/entity. This eliminates any possibility of legal remedy against such access. There is no mutual legal assistance agreement between the EU and the USA under the CLOUD Act. The CLOUD Act does not only affect personal data, though: Trade secrets or other sensitive data of companies and public institutions are also not protected during a transfer to a third country and can be accessed by US intelligence services and even transferred through the USA to other third countries.
With the CJEU ruling (Schrems II), a transfer of personal data to the US was officially declared unlawful. As a result, the use of US platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex is no longer legally permissible in Germany. Companies, public institutions, government agencies, schools and universities may therefore only use systems whose provider is located in the EU and ensures that US authorities cannot access the data.
This also applies if the respective servers are located within the European Union. If the parent company is located in Silicon Valley, for example, the CLOUD Act automatically applies, and the company is obligated to disclose the data under US law upon request by a US authority, even if the server is located in Germany.
Nevertheless, many companies, law firms and also public institutions still use products from US providers and thus generally violate data protection laws – even though performant and professional SaaS providers such as alfaview exist in the EU. If schools or public institutions use US systems, then no legitimate data transfer can take place, even with consent of the data subject. In most cases, users have no real choice and are forced to use the provided system. This is particularly critical when schools use US systems, as the users are often underage, school-age pupils or students who would otherwise not be able to continue attending classes. Voluntary consent, as a prerequisite for legally effective consent, would not be given in this case.
We therefore appeal with the utmost urgency to demand the consistent implementation of legal standards such as the GDPR. In order to protect Germany as a technology nation, personal data of individuals and also business secrets of companies from Germany must remain in Europe! Under the administration of Angela Merkel, it became obvious that " interception among friends" is happening – with the CLOUD Act, the United States have granted themselves extensive possibilities to access the data of EU citizens stored at providers owned by a US corporation (e.g. Google Cloud, AWS (Amazon), Microsoft Azure). How serious are Berlin and Brussels that we need our own digital strategies and products when hundreds of millions of euros are going to Silicon Valley? Money that is needed to make our own products even stronger. alfaview is a provider from Germany that has developed the world's most powerful GDPR-compliant video conferencing system on the market: alfaview is infinitely scalable, does not crash, is always available – no matter how many participants turn on the camera during a meeting.
This September, our group acquired EML Speech Technology GmbH, a Heidelberg-based research and development company in the field of automatic speech recognition founded by Klaus Tschira, a physicist and co-founder of SAP. In collaboration with EML, alfaview is developing artificial intelligence and machine learning tools based on the latest techniques and algorithms. While US providers use tools that transfer data of European users to the United States or other third countries, alfaview focuses on the expansion of its own family of companies and, with the acquisition of EML, creates the basis for comprehensive AI language technologies in compliance with the GDPR – made and hosted in Germany.
Self-hosted BigBlueButton servers are not stable
In some German states, some data protection officers have already taken an official stance and banned Microsoft Teams from being used in schools. However, instead of looking for a high-performance cloud platform from the European Union or Germany, each federal state has started to set up decentralized, individual and expensive systems on its own.
Currently, many schools in Germany have to use video conferencing systems provided by the state, even if they cannot conduct stable classes due to the technology used. It is unclear why, despite the experience with BigBlueButton, some states still rely on unstable open-source applications that have to be set up and managed cost-intensively by system houses and IT consulting firms instead of using high-performance systems such as alfaview.
alfaview is a German provider operating in the highly professional field of software development in the technology nation Germany. Why does Germany not deliberately rely on providers that comply with the legal conditions of our legal area and that operate high-quality, high-performance platforms?
BigBlueButton, Jitsi Meet and other solely browser-based solutions often lack the required performance and stability due to the technology used and are not comparable to a highly available, stable and lip-synchronous software like alfaview.
Open Source Software (OOS) such as BigBlueButton requires expensive and labor-intensive setup and operation by system houses, and is thus in no way cost-free. In addition, the continuous development of the application is not automatically guaranteed. A highly professionalized SaaS service such as alfaview only costs a fraction – it is therefore highly questionable on which consulting basis states rely on OSS products implemented by system houses. IT and consulting houses make profit from selling and operating open source products. It is often not in the best interest of system houses to recommend high-performance, high-availability video conferencing systems such as alfaview, which cost only a fraction of the BigBlueButton instances they set up. Tax funds would be better used to provide students with devices and better internet.
Whoever has such consultants should not be surprised that digitization in Germany is years behind. It is not the GDPR that is holding back digitization, but the fixation on Silicon Valley, the lack of courage to rethink, to rely on one's own strength and to act disruptively.
Airbus did not become a global player and did not become Boeing's main competitor because every EU country decided to go it alone. You don't win in the global market with small, decentralized projects. With the alfaview video conferencing software, there is a powerful communication platform that complies with the GDPR and has the potential to become a global player because it has far higher qualities than its market competitors.
The principal of the Carl-Friedrich-Gauß-Gymnasium Hockenheim commented on the use of video conferencing systems in schools in the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper when the pandemic began: she confirmed that alfaview runs more stably than the BigBlueButton system provided by the state, is easy for students to use, and fully complies with data protection guidelines.
We urge you to critically question the recommendations made by system houses. Currently, the ministries rely on companies that have a commercial interest in earning money by setting up products that are supposedly free of charge – at the expense of all users.
Video conferencing systems by US providers are no alternative.
alfaview has no sponsors or investors. It is financed solely by its users. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all schools, universities, other educational institutions, small and large companies, public institutions, cities and municipalities that make this free promotion for schools possible by booking alfaview for a fee. (References).
alfaview Video Conferencing Systems – 100 % compliant with the GDPR
alfaview is a German video conferencing provider that is 100 % compliant with the GDPR and guarantees compliance with German and EU legislation. alfaview operates according to defined quality standards (e.g. current recommendations of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI)) and is certified under ISO 27001. Only data centers certified ISO 27001, which are located and have their headquarters in Germany are used to provide the services. The video and audio streams as well as the server hard drives are encrypted according to current standards (TLS) and in compliance with the latest BSI guidelines. alfaview runs stably and without latencies on all common platforms (Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, iPadOS and Android), regardless of the number of participants, and can thus be used for stable video conferences or digital teaching with standard Internet bandwidth on PCs, tablets or smartphones with a wide range of class sizes. The reliability of alfaview has been 99.99 % since 2016. The management of alfaview is certified under ISO 9001:2015.
In its review of various video conferencing providers, Berlin’s Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information singles out alfaview as one of the few providers earning the maximum number of four green traffic lights. The State Commissioner of Baden-Württemberg for Data Protection and Freedom of Information also lists alfaview as one of the few data protection-compliant video conferencing providers in its guide.
alfaview is not a product of the pandemic
alfaview was developed in 2010 by the Karlsruhe based education company alfatraining Bildungszentrum GmbH (www.alfatraining.de). In 2016, alfatraining made the video conferencing software available to the open market at the request of SAP's training department and other companies that wanted to implement their own digital training courses.
As a German SaaS provider, we are investing considerable resources to establish a highly available, secure, and privacy-compliant platform on the market. Why do people turn a blind eye to existing alternatives from Germany and use US products? Why does every state build its own unstable systems instead of using the long-standing and well-founded know-how of a professional provider?
Being a company strictly adhering to the legal principles and recommendations of the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), we are surprised time and time again that criteria are defined in public tenders that correspond exactly to the features of US products. In the end, even questionable procurement decisions are made, although it has actually been clear for a long time within the scope of Schrems II that data protection-compliant use of US providers in Germany is not possible.
We cannot understand why hundreds of millions of tax funds are going to Silicon Valley instead of supporting German or European providers. Only by consistently implementing our standards we can develop high-availability, high-performance IT platforms in the European Union that are better than the products from Silicon Valley. Ultimately, German and European companies will need these funds to position themselves as global players on the market.
In Germany, everyone should help to prevent market monopolies by US companies. With Twitter, Elon Musk is currently showing how problematic it can be when even "social" media are controlled due to the market-dominating position of a company. However, there can be no talk of "social" here, because the only goal is to tap the personal data of users and market it commercially. Amazon, Meta and Musk are also currently showing how "hire" and above all "fire" works in the United States without any relevant opposition.
We should act now and enforce in practice that video communication systems that do not operate on the basis of our legal system may no longer be used in Germany and the European Union.
We gladly present alfaview to you in person and show you that there is a powerful, highly available and data-secure alternative to US products from Germany that complies with the GDPR. We have done our homework. Now all state institutions are called upon to do their part.
Please contact our team or call me personally. I look forward to surprising you with the world's most powerful and GDPR-compliant video conferencing software from Karlsruhe, Germany. In any case, Heidi Klum was excited about the quality and stability of alfaview bringing 500 viewers live into the studio for the Germany’s Next Topmodel finale in 2021.