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Documentaries, society, technology

Who Wields the Power Online?

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part )43 minutes)  |  SOURCE: DW


China is far ahead of the field when it comes to digitization. In 2013, Germany’s Chancellor called the Internet “uncharted territory.” What does it mean for the economy when platforms become increasingly powerful and data more valuable? Thomas Derksen was once a savings bank employee in Cologne. Now, he is an Internet star in China, where he advertises German products and millions follow him online. His life there is very different to his life in Germany. Payments, pensions and bills – he only needs his mobile phone to organize his daily life. He says, “Digitization is a real revolution. And I don’t think you can choose whether you want it or not, you have to go along with it.” German online fashion retailer Zalando wants to catch up and become a platform as well. This documentary looks behind the scenes at the rapidly growing digital company. It explains how Zalando is using customer data to improve its fashion range. But how can you monitor the power of online platforms? The Chinese government has long been experimenting with facial recognition and social scoring systems. A visiting German business delegation discovers that new developments back home have long been old hat in cities like Shanghai and Hangzhou. The Chinese government is pushing ahead with digitization at high speed. As the camera follows the delegation into the interior of the powerful Alibaba platform, one German marvels at the unbelievable openness to new technology. In China, digitization means a lucrative future and a piece of global domination all rolled into one. Meanwhile, Dorothee Bär, Germany’s Minister for Digitization, talks to the filmmakers in an exclusive interview and talks about her work and her plans for taking Germany into the “Digital Age.”

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