The form generator helps people to easily opt out at their registration offices. Here I’d like to write some words about the hows and whys that led to the final web app…

Data Economy at Registration Offices

Internationally, Germany is often referred to as a country full of strong privacy groups and citizens having some kind of a generic bias against all kinds of post privacy and private data liberality. Nevertheless, there is a huge lack of privacy thinking in one of Germany’s official laws: The compulsory registration and the communal system of registration!

The problem I see is that registration offices in Germany often sell the private datasets of their citizens to address traders and political parties, companies or further interested parties. In my eyes that’s in fact a scandal!

Opt-Out at Registration Offices

However, the Federal Republic of Germany wouldn’t be a democratic republic without any chance of raising an objection. In fact, German citizens are legally allowed to opt out at their local, communal registration offices, but of course this (for some people) is quite an obstacle.

To simplify the process and the flatten possible obstacles, I created Inspired by Chaos Computer Club Mainz/ Wiesbaden and their post on the principle of data economy, I started working on this project during the international Open Data Hackday 2013 in Berlin.

Python, Django, Tastypie

After discussing several possible ways of implementing such an form generator, I came up with a somehow classic technology stack using the Django web-framework for Python, Tastypie for a clean and simple API and Bootstrap for the frontend.

In the end, the entire technology thing was not the central problem. Much harder was to find, scrape, combine and clean the required data about zip-codes and registration office addresses. The reason for that is, that there (still) are no central/ offical platforms in Germany providing all official addresses or datasets about the n2m relations between zip-codes and municipalities.

Working on showed me that there’s a strong need of open governmental data in Germany. So hands on and free data!

Jan Brennenstuhl

Jan is a software engineer, web security enthusiast & clean code artist. He lives in Berlin, is currently working for Zalando SE and loves his bonsai trees, coffee & road cycling.

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