Scars of the Gestapo: the Origins of German Privacy Concerns
41 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2023
Date Written: January 18, 2023
We study the origins of Germans’ stringent attitude towards privacy. Our main hypothesis is that the culture of Holocaust remembrance (Erinnerungskultur) focuses Germans’ attention on the risks associated with private data ending up in the wrong hands. One example of this culture of remembrance are the Stolpersteine, plaques on the sidewalk signalling that a victim of Nazi persecution lived on a given address. We use a detailed street level imagery dataset of Berlin to relate the location of the Stolpersteine to a novel geolocated measure of privacy concerns: whether a person asks for their building to be blurred on a street-level imagery provider. We show that there exists a positive relationship between the amount of Stolpersteine near a person’s house or workplace, and the probability that this person will ask the imagery provider to blur the front of their house. This relationship is very localized, as most of the effect concentrates on Stolpersteine that are less than 10 meters away.
Keywords: privacy concerns, Stolpersteine, culture of remembrance, Germany
JEL Classification: N44, N94, R23, R52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation