Guttenberg as Net Activist

I’ve been enjoying the latest installment from Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. Defence minister and rising star, he was forced out of office this spring, when a cluster of online activists discovered that he had plagiarised his PhD thesis.

Now he’s attempting a low-level comeback, advising the EU’s internet commissioner on online freedom. In particular, he’ll be looking at how the EU can support bloggers and online activists in authoritarian regimes.

Netzpolitik has mostly been having fun with all this (“

More Guttenplag-wikis for dictatorships?


But they also home in on the more important point — the inanity of separating “internet freedom in authoritarian states” (Guttenberg’s beat to be) from internet freedom in the EU. Telling others to be free while cracking down at home — it does have the kind of arrogance which Guttenberg does so well, but that surely doesn’t mean he should do it.

On the other hand, I do have a grudging admiration for Gutenberg’s willingness to accept humiliation. He’s chosen to go straight back to the world which saw through him, rather than the one overawed by his smooth rich-boy background. Perhaps also, over fading away into a world of business or conference-speaking, the usual stamping-grounds of the disgraced politician.

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