back to article Franco-German cloud framework floated to protect European's data from foreign tech firms slurpage

The Economy Ministers of Germany and France, Peter Altmaier and Bruno Le Maire, held a media event on Thursday to talk up GAIA-X, an EU data infrastructure initiative aiming to take on Silicon Valley and Chinese behemoths to protect data. "We are wholeheartedly convinced that the final success of this digital moonshot will be …

  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    No global social network

    At least wethey've got something right.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: No global social network

      Wethey have got global social [sic] networks. It's getting rid of them that's going to take work.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google cloud Europe?

      Given the attacks against press and medics in Minneapolis–St Paul. Medic tent attacked with rubber bullets, police slashing car tyres, police confiscating camera equipment and press ID badges and then arresting press men.

      We know this because we have access to video on Youtube and twitter.

      https://www.motherjones.com/anti-racism-police-protest/2020/06/videos-show-cops-slashing-car-tires-at-protests-in-minneapolis/

      YouTube and Facebook AS A MATTER OF URGENCY should move their data to Europe and the control over that data to their European staff.

      If they're attacking press, then they're trying to create a false narrative. And Youtube and Facebook will be next, because the video footage undermines that false narrative.

      You see Republican Senators claiming the troops should shoot and kill the protestors? Do you think they're joking? They are definitely not joking.

      What stops this situation going south quickly is not Trump, or Barr, or laws that Barr won't obey, ITS THE VIDEO EVIDENCE.

      You will see telecoms companies used to block Internet access in protest areas. When you see that, video everything that happens, swap out and hide SD cards and backups, try to get copies of the video out of the control area on physical media.

      Republicans gave Barr powers to monitor all internet connections very recently, so he'll be spying on press and politicians. Beware the US based cloud service you use has Barr controlled FBI on the other end journalists! Find and use European or non-US based services, journos! (Qwant for searches! All US based search engines are Barr compromized)

      https://www.thedailybeast.com/mitch-mcconnell-moves-to-expand-bill-barrs-surveillance-powers

      "“Under the McConnell amendment, Barr gets to look through the web browsing history of any American—including journalists, politicians, and political rivals—without a warrant, just by saying it is relevant to an investigation,”

  3. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
    Windows

    GAIA-X

    That name makes me cringe and the image "Architectural concept ..." makes my head hurt, I have seen marketing material that made more sense. But there is that X-shape in the diagram, so everything ist wunderbar!

    1. jvf

      Looks like they got their copy from here

      https://www.bullshitgenerator.com/

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: GAIA-X

      My first thought was Captain Planet...

    3. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: GAIA-X

      And not a 'cyber-' in sight.

  4. IGotOut Silver badge

    OVH?

    Hmmm, an ISP on my challenge / response list due to the number of attacks on my site from their clients and a complete lack of interest on dealing with them.

    Fills me with confidence.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OVH?

      I came here to say the same thing!

      There was thousands of sites that had been hacked to include some hex-filled script that took mobile browsers to free gift card scams, fake virus warnings and dubious app downloads that were all being hosted from OVH France.

      Doing a quick web search for similar scams pulled up this aqrticle about browser lockers that also mentions AS16276:

      https://www.redpacketsecurity.com/woof-locker-unmasking-the-browser-locker-behind-a-stealthy-tech-support-scam-operation/

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: OVH?

        Indicative of the problem, there is no good eu cloud provider.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here maps is a big success

    Here maps is a big European success.

    I've never heard of Qwant before this article, but "Lindsey Graham Gay" pulls up articles from 2010 which does not seem very timely. Their crawl could be improved!

    Their maps and video sections is really nice. Their engine is heavily censored though. No porn.

    Interesting.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Here maps is a big success

      I use qwant as my default search engine. It is not bad at all for my own interests/concerns in comparison to competitors.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yeh, I've switched it

        Yeh, I've just switch to Qwant from duckduckgo too. It looks good.

        Yandex is my goto for porn anyway. It's a compromise I'll live with for the moment.

        None of them really work, "lindsey Graham rent boy" searches, on Qwant pulls up a spam site. Duckduckgo pulls up the same site. Google does not show the spam site, but does pull up an 'voices' (maybe comment spam) article related to the topic on Washingtonpost.

        None of them really pull up the article I was expecting to see, the recent male prostitute allegations against Lindsey Graham. They do pull up a lot of older claims, I didn't know about.

        They're all a bit 'meh'.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Here maps is a big success

      "Their engine is heavily censored though. No porn."

      So, about half the internet blocked from being indexed. That should speed up the search and improve the relevance of results significantly. Unless it's porn you are looking for. It'd probably be lightning fast if they could block all the kitten sites from the index too :-)

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Here maps is a big success

      "Their engine is heavily censored though."

      Just tried it. I'm having a few issues since I pulled my SSD from the old laptop and put it in the new one. FreeBSD + Intel gfx drivers not quite right. Entered "freebsd intel graphics" into Qwant. No results in "web". Trimmed down to just "freebsd". Still no results at all in the Web section. I don't think it's going to be my default search engine anytime soon.

      (If anyone is interested, and waaay off topic, the old Tosh laptop failed and I moved the SSD "as is" into a newer Tosh laptop. Everything just worked after telling the OS the name of the newly detected ethernet hardware but some GFX acceleration is not working and causes the apps trying to use the features to seg fault, but it's still a far more successful move than for the Windows partition.)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Here maps is a big success

        "Entered "freebsd intel graphics" into Qwant. No results in "web".

        Oops, sorry all. For some reason I ended up at lite.qwant.com and for some reason that page doesn't work well from here. Changed to https://qwant.com and all is well with the world again.

    4. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

      Re: Here maps is a big success

      Qwant is a front end for Bing, mostly...

      Perhaps the "no porn" is an added feature?

  6. steamnut

    How will they build it?

    Assuming that the EU finally settle on a design and a location; and that could be many expensive years away, how are they going to build it without hardware from non-EU countries. China, America and Taiwan are already major suppliers of the essential chips and components. India is joining the supplier party too.

    It is a typical EU project that it attempting to create an EU monopoly. And, like the failed EU patent project, it will just burn Euros and time with no final result. That said, there will be lots of consultancy fees and expenses in the trough.....

    1. Roo
      Windows

      Re: How will they build it?

      They can start small and scale up across many sites, and they can license build CPUs if they want to. Key point is they don't need to do everything all at once... The world has moved on from Wintel SMP boxes. :)

    2. smalldot

      Re: How will they build it?

      No doubt it will be a bloated and costly project. But the indirect cost of surrendering our data to the US and China is probably higher. There's a reason why those countries don't allow any foreign cloud business to grow on their own ground.

      1. robidy Silver badge

        Re: How will they build it?

        We've aleady had the surrender, just waiting for Johnson, Cummings and Gove to tell us.

    3. Tomato42 Silver badge

      Re: How will they build it?

      GlobalFoundries is able to operate a silicon foundry in Dresden so it's not like chipset manufacturing isn't commercially viable in EU

    4. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: How will they build it?

      No need for hardware to be independent. The data is the concern. If Microsoft hold your data even physically in the UK, the NSA can get access to it thru the US courts.

      Could be cheaper than the US by using huawei kit, lol.

      1. phogan

        Re: How will they build it?

        It's no secret Huawei benefits from subsides from the Chinese government as part of 2025 plan to be a global tech leader. If you are going down the sovereignty route you may as well help EU hardware makers be at least competitive with cheaper foreign gear so GAIA X benefits them as well.

        Of course all the back end software to run this needs to be licensed or developed.

    5. naive

      Re: How will they build it?

      They build it with the help of some US based consultancy company like Booze Allen and Hamilton and SSL certificates supplied by an US based company all communicating using US designed and Chinese build networking equipment. The SAN's they use have a direct call home to their US based manufacturers.

      It will be very successful since it is going to cost 5 times more than AWS, because Merkel wants the data centers to be powered by windmills so it is CO2 neutral.

    6. Lars Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: How will they build it?

      " how are they going to build it without hardware from non-EU countries.".

      Silly boy, why would they do that.

  7. LDS Silver badge

    After the CLOUD Act it was inevitable

    The US Congress maybe one day will understand their fears will damage US economy more than any advantage in fighting crime through bullying laws. Cooperation with allies is a far better way.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: After the CLOUD Act it was inevitable

      > Cooperation with allies is a far better way

      Nah, sucking the marrow out of the allies' bones is far more profitable. When they're finished you throw them away and choose new ones to exploit: There is a long list of politicians who would like US help to stay in business, in exchange of whatever valuables their country might have.

      (sarcasm)

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: After the CLOUD Act it was inevitable

      Cooperation with allies is a far better way.

      They do believe in cooperation: "We tell you what we want, you cooperate.".

      1. Woza

        Re: After the CLOUD Act it was inevitable

        Yes, Prime Minister. Your wish is my cooperation.

        -- Bernard Woolley

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: After the CLOUD Act it was inevitable

      Having skimmed through the PDF I'm a little less hopeful. Amongst the usual suspects contributors are Google, Oracle, HPE and Cisco. Admittedly it's the German branches of these but it makes it look a little less than European.

    4. phogan

      Re: After the CLOUD Act it was inevitable

      It's not really bullying. It say U.S companies must produce any relevant data they hold when presented a warrant even if that data is held outside the U.S. In order to issue a warrant the target(s), for whom the data is being sought, have to have sufficient connection with the U.S to establish jurisdiction. It's basically the U.S formerly claiming data under it's jurisdiction even if it eventually gets scattered all over the world.

      If the U.S wants data on foreign people it has no jurisdiction over it's either going to use law enforcement assistance treaties or it's going to do so under the guise of foreign intelligence. If you are worried about U.S access the Cloud Act isn't what you need to focus on. Long standing broad foreign intelligence powers however...

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        I'm sorry, but you don't seem to realize the true extent of the Cloud Act.

        It means that a US judge can force a US company to turn over any data it has on anyone, irrespective of where that data is held and who the person is, as long as the server is managed by said US company.

        There isn't even a need for a warrant. The judge says "jump", and the company can only say "how high ?".

        1. phogan

          There is nothing in the Cloud Act the relieves the U.S government of it's need to get a warrant or subpoena. In the case of executive agreements, access is according to each countries own domestic procedures and prohibits both U.S and any country it has agreement with from using the agreement to target each other citizens or those of other countries.

          Besides if they wanted to go on a fishing expeditions through the data of people outside the U.S they have the FISA court and much loser requirements. It's orders are classified and there is a lengthy procedure for those served if they want to even reveal the existence of an order.

  8. RM Myers Bronze badge
    Coat

    Free Trade

    Everyone believes in free trade - until they don't. Seems to be a worldwide trend.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Free Trade

      Having a second or third technological power would actually benefit trade, not harm it. This is not an us versus them matter, it is about providing balance and a degree of mutual non-dependence.

      As a bonus, it would also open a competitive space addressing the various markets targeted by the sanctions the US so liberally puts in place, which would make unilateral action less attractive and therefore promote negotiation, hopefully making it less common for a certain actor to barge in like a drunk elephant in a china shop.

      If we have a better balance, we all win.

      1. aks Bronze badge

        Re: Free Trade

        This seems to be designed to benefit France and Germany. The other 25 will get crumbs.

        France have clearly insisted that this must be based in a French speaking country (Belgium) as they did when setting up Brussels + Strasbourg as headquarters of the EEC/EC/EU.

        I can't see Poland being given a look-in but they'll be forced to comply and to pay.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Free Trade

          Although a part of Europe, Poland is very much in America's back pocket.

          Franco/German ideas tend to stay centred where they begin.

          1. teknopaul Silver badge

            Re: Free Trade

            I'm with AC. Everyone benefits.

        2. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Free Trade

          "I can't see Poland being given a look-in".

          Why would anybody been given a look-in. Either you take part or you don't, there are lots of projects within the EU where some countries take part and others don't.

          But allow me to smile at the "pay" in relation to Poland.

          Poland is like Britain when Britain joined the EU, the economy was then below that of Italy and Britain received help from countries like France, Germany and Italy in the hope the country would rise and become a new net contributor, which also happened and there is that same hope regarding Poland too today.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is a small step in the right direction

    …but the truth of the matter is that the EU's way of doing things is not a great fit for the problem at hand. Think sending in an army when what you need is a guerrilla war.

    If you can stop every successful startup founder from having to sod off to the States to get their projects funded, half the race is won.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: It is a small step in the right direction

      Yeah, the whole culture of high roller VC gamblers just doesn't seem to exist in the EU/UK.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: It is a small step in the right direction

        You say that like it's a bad thing

  10. HildyJ Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Maybe?

    Is it doable in theory? Sure, given enough time and money any company (or, for that matter, many ElReg denizens) can build their own cloud with access and query restrictions.

    Should they try? Why not, it's only government money and to the extent that the money goes to EU companies and citizens it can be considered as a stimulus package.

    Can the EU, accomplish it? Maybe. This is t big question; their track record is not the best.

    But the name needs to be changed. I suggest EuroCloud.

  11. Another User

    Megalomaniacal Europeans try to rule the World: GAIA means Earth (mother)

    Hearing ‘GAIA’ makes me cringe. It is not only a European attempt but an attempt to rule the World. This is not something unintentionally as if they didn’t know that GAIA means Earth (mother). Minister Altmaier is explicitly comparing it to GDRP which he sees as an example the world has to follow.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Megalomaniacal Europeans try to rule the World: GAIA means Earth (mother)

      Not sure how you got from one of those acronyms which can be pronounced as a word to an attempt to rule the world, but each to their own.

      1. Another User

        Re: Megalomaniacal Europeans try to rule the World: GAIA means Earth (mother)

        You are mistaken. The name is not an acronym. The project Initiators chose a name. Then they thought about an acronym but decided against. Here is some information

        https://www.cloudcomputing-insider.de/was-ist-das-projekt-gaia-x-a-881800/

        “Der Projektname GAIA-X bezieht sich auf die griechische Erdgöttin. Dem Vernehmen nach haben die Projektgründer zunächst über ein entsprechendes Akronym nachgedacht, Begriffe wie „General Artificial Intelligence Architecture“ schließlich jedoch verworfen.”

        Google translate gives:

        “ The project name GAIA-X refers to the Greek earth goddess. According to reports, the project founders initially thought about an appropriate acronym, but finally rejected terms such as "General Artificial Intelligence Architecture".”

      2. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Megalomaniacal Europeans try to rule the World: GAIA means Earth (mother)

        Not sure how OPs mind linked Gaia with megalomania, when I hear Gaia I think intelligent mum. Or perhaps drippy hippy.

        1. Another User

          Re: Megalomaniacal Europeans try to rule the World: GAIA means Earth (mother)

          I do not think it is worth to spend too much energy on this one. So far this project has produced a lot of documents without too much content. Without massive funding it will not make an impact.

          So I completely understand the ‘Bingo’ comparison.

          Gaia is also used for different projects like ESA’s Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics.

          There clearly the acronym was chosen later. This spacecraft is looking at the Milky Way.

          Here I looked at the statements of the politicians and why they chose a project name.

  12. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Linux

    "Europe has no notable operating system developers"

    Poor Linus, ignored again. Sorry mate, have a virtual hug from me.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "Europe has no notable operating system developers"

      He left Finland in 1997 so was only an EU resident for less than 2 years (Finland joined the EU in 1995). He's a US citizen and has been for 10 years now. I'm not sure the EU can lay much claim to Linus as an OS dev.

      On the other hand, there are a lot of devs in the EU working on all sorts of stuff, some of which are OS projects.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: "Europe has no notable operating system developers"

        TFA said Europe?

    2. fuzzie

      Re: "Europe has no notable operating system developers"

      They seem to have also forgotten the other plucky ones: Symbian and SailfishOS. Though, yes, to be fair... Europe does come up with good tech, they just appear to lack the multinational take-over-the-world drive/ambition which the US startups have as Gene 0. Also, Europe can't market/hype itself out of a wet paper bag which makes it hard to compete with any US company where PR/marketing appears to be second nature.

      What would be great is if Gaia-X styled itself on the GSMA, i.e. provide the broad technical standards and such that would allow smaller/niche players to build compatible offerings, e.g. a small company might specialise in niche compute offerings like FPGA/GPU/OpenCL/etc. And if the platform allows accounts, services, data to be truly portable, think SIM-card, mobile number portability, "roaming" and single-bill, they could be onto something.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Europe has no notable operating system developers"

      Isn't he a US citizen now. However large open source projects aren't the product of single countries. Developers are world-wide.

      Amongst Linux distros there's SuSE which seems to have done the rounds: originally German, bought by Novell (US) then AttachMate (US), then MicroFocus (UK) then Blitz GmbH (German again) a subsidiary of EQT partners (head office Sweden).

      Document Foundation (LibreOffice) and NextCloud are also based in Germany.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Europe has no notable operating system developers"

        Und KDE e.V. (Berlin) und soon the Apache Foundation (Belgium)

  13. The man in the pub
    Unhappy

    Cliqz

    Nicely timed as Cliqz the German security based browser closes. Shame, as I quite liked it.

  14. iron Silver badge
    Pirate

    Do NOT install Quant browser extension!

    Quant publish a browser extension for Firefox which claims to add thier search engine, which it does, but it also acts like malware and takes over your browser. It changes your home page, prevents you changing it back without removing the extension and takes control of tracking protection. Installing Quant REDUCED my privacy by turning off some of Firefox's built in tracking protection. There is no need for this behaviour just to add a search engine, avoid this malware!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do NOT install Quant browser extension!

      It would be helpful if you provided a link to the add-on that you are talking about. A quick search suggests that there are a large number of Qwant (not Quant!) related add-ons, not all of which are by Qwant.

      Quite aside from this, there is zero need to use an add-on, just visit https://qwant.com/ (or whichever other site) and add the site to your search preferences via the OpenSearch mechanism.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do NOT install Quant browser extension!

      You mean this one:

      https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/qwantcom-for-firefox/?src=search

      Description: "Qwant is the European search engine that does not track you. This extension makes Qwant your default search engine and homepage as well as allowing you to easily extend Firefox Tracking Protection to the whole Web."

      And you're saying it set Qwant as the default search engine, set the homepage to Qwant and change the tracking protection to its own?

      So it does exactly what it says it does???

      @"There is no need for this behaviour just to add a search engine, avoid this malware!"

      Agreed true, goto Qwant.com, click on the search bar and click "add qwant to search engines". You don't need to have their home page and tracking protection.

      Playing with Qwant maps, I would much prefer them to use Here maps (maps.here.com). I wonder if they can cross license? Here maps has better points of interest data, better satellite maps and better detail display.

      I have to say I've only played with it for a couple of days, but it does seem impressive. But the maps though, full of the same bad choices Google made. Google stripped off as much details as possible in their maps, the resulting map is totally f*ing useless for finding anything, but it is very aesthetic pleasing as a piece of artwork.

      Both openstreetmaps and maps.Here.com make a more usable map.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do NOT install Quant browser extension!

        > I have to say I've only played with it for a couple of days, but it does seem impressive. But the maps though, full of the same bad choices Google made.

        Minus one: Unlike Google's, Qwant Maps is open source. If you don't like it, change it!

        Interestingly, I learned the other day that the name of their front-end application is not Austro-Bavarian for "potato" (which I admit confused me), but something else entirely.

  15. phogan

    In any case it will be interesting to see if government bureaucracy and design by committee can produce something competitive.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      @phogan

      Glad I am not the only one thinking this. Will we ever hear of this project again? We will see.

  16. Robert Grant Silver badge

    I thought T-Systems were doing an EU cloud venture with OpenStack. What happened to that?

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