Well, YouTube has restored the episode of The Private Citizen they’ve blocked yesterday. Apparently, I’m not a liar or incredibly bad at my job or whatever they were alleging with their unjustified claim of a TOS violation. They say in an email:

After taking another look, we can confirm that your content does not
violate our Community Guidelines.

Thanks for your patience while we reviewed this appeal. Our goal is to make
sure content doesn’t violate our Community Guidelines so that YouTube can
be a safe place for all – and sometimes we make mistakes trying to get it
right. We’re sorry for any frustration our mistake caused you, and we
appreciate you letting us know.

I guess that’s admitting that they fucked up. No explanation of how such an incredibly dumb mistake could have happened to such a supposedly very smart company, though.

I am still awaiting a response from their press office with a proper explanation. In my opinion, this automated email is a very sorry excuse for supressing important journalistic work. I will continue my research into what options journalists have to prevent overblocking like this.


You probably know that I record a weekly podcast on privacy, security, civil rights and other policy issues. You might also know that I record each episode live on Twitch and later upload it to my YouTube channel. Today, YouTube informed me that one of my videos had been blocked for a TOS violation for the first time.

They have removed the video for episode 74 of The Private Citizen because it allegedly contains “medical misinformation” with regards to COVID-19. This is a ludicrous claim and obviously bogus – that should be clear to anyone who listens to the episode (which is of course still available in podcast form). It was probably an automatic decision and YouTube is not providing any information on why they think I violated their TOS at all.

Now, it happens that I am not just some random YouTuber. I am a journalist and this video was made with my usual journalistic standards (see my previous work and the ethical guidelines for journalists in the German press codex , which I follow to the letter to the best of my abilities). As such I regard this kind of unsubstantiated claim as a grave insult to my work ethics. And I will fight this tooth and nail – my professional reputation is on the line here.

I have disputed the claim and contacted Google’s press office to provide me with information on why they think I violated their TOS, i.e. detailed justification as to where exactly my video contradicts expert guidance from the WHO and/or RKI. I will also take up this matter with my trade union, the DJV, as I consider this kind of behaviour by YouTube to be a threat to press freedom, especially of independent freelance journalists, here in Germany. I will keep you informed about Google’s response and my further steps in the matter.

Funnily enough, I pretty much predicted that something like this might happen on the podcast only last week when talking about YouTube, upload filters, journalism and free speech: The Private Citizen 73: A Great Time to Be a Podcaster.


What’s Been Going On?

An update on what’s happening in my life and why I haven’t been around as much.
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When I went to my PO box between Christmas and New Year’s, I found a pleasant surprise waiting for me. I would like to thank Terile from my Discord community for gifting me a copy of How Spies Think: Ten Lessons in Intelligence by David Omand. A very thoughtful gift! I am sure it will come in handy for my work, especially on The Private Citizen.

On a side note: That is one clever book cover!


I wish all of you a Happy New Year! May 2021 prove to be better than what we experienced in 2020. For everyone!

I’ve been hard at work all though the holidays and you’ll hopefully be able to see and read some of the things that I’ve been working on in the new year. Whatever else happens, I promise you there will be more stories here on the blog, in my newsletter and elsewhere for you to read. And there will be even more podcasts and probably more streams, too, than you’ve got in 2020. I promise I won’t slow down in 2021, so let’s go! Let’s make it an awesome year!


This photo was taken in Isernhagen, in November of 2016. The last time we had proper snow. I wish we had this kind of weather today. It’s my preferred mood for Christmas Eve, which is when the main Christmas celebration happens here in Germany.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Whatever you celebrate – or don’t – I hope you have a good time with your loved ones over the next few days.


The Great Discord Reorg of 2020

I’m reorganising my Discord servers. Please read this if you are part of the fab.industries or Private Citizen servers.
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It’s been ages since I had a fixed IRC channel to hang out in and I was kind of missing it. Just hanging out in botnet C&C channels gets boring after a while. Therefore, on a whim, I’ve created #fabindustries on Freenode. Feel free to drop by if you want to chat about the stuff I’m doing day-to-day.


Back to Work

After recharging my batteries for ten days in Norway, I’m ready to once again bury myself in work.
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I’ve switched over to using Buttondown for delivery services for my daily tech newsletter. Their service is exactly what I was looking for. It’s simple, I can write the content in Markdown (just like I do for the site), I can switch the tracking off and they’re a small, independent operation and not a startup backed by venture capitalists. Seems pretty perfect for me!