If your group has a mission, we got your IT... and your back!
You work for the common good and in the public interest to voice a concern or even hold wrongdoers to justice? Then we have a lot in common, because: so do we.
And from years of working in consumer protection as a watchdog agency, we know just as good as you to: workflow and internal organisation is often as big a challenge as fighting our adversaries. A reliable IT backbone and a working back office are real issues and often it is also a great concern for your members and supporters.
Being both a subsidiary to a consumer protection agency/qualified entity under directive 2009/22/EC and a not-for-profit company ourselves, we know the weights you carry and the hurdles you need to jump across every bit as well as you do.
After three and a half years, we had a workflow in place that would…
- meet all legal requirements, including GDPR requirements as well as
- the expectations of your staff and your members or stakeholders,
- while dealing with limited resources of an NGO.
Most jurisdictions in the EU do offer some sort of collective redress nowadays, but it is still often very difficult (and sometimes risky) to take a case to court even if the case seems crystal clear.
If you need to undertake the enterprise to bring collective redress charges against a company we also have the tools and advice you need to
- keep a record of the charges and you plaintiffs
- keep track of the cases
- keep have an eye on what your lawyers are doing (or don’t do or should rather not be doing).
Or maybe you wonder if LegalTech might be more suitable to solve your task for everyone talks about some magic LegalTech trick nowadays anyway, right? Maybe… and maybe not!
Our experts have been working to design and run trailblazing LegalTech solutions, including one cutting edge compensation solution for air travellers’ compensation. Now they work for and with us to provide you with an experts’ opinion on which solution will be the right for you and the consumers that entrust you with their rights. Telling which way is the right way is often the chellange nobody sees, before chellange that has all eyes on it. Not to mention the fact that ongoing jurisdiction and policy-making makes collective redress and mass compensation a moving target.
We can offer in-depth advice from a real insider’s perspective. From the legal roadmap via the technical backbone to all administrative processes, they know what’s ahead like the back of our hands not only from the cases our experts handled but also from the cases we turned down.
A charitable company with the common good in focus For our digital operations we set up a dedicated company, that could focus on delivering just the kind of services, that a watchdog organization would require, including LegalTech solutions. So we founded Deutscher Konsumentenbund gGmbH with exactly that in mind.
Solutions that empower your organisation
After a long and sometimes painful period of trial, error and adaption we came up with solutions that exactly fit our needs and that come especially handy when the global pandemic. We took a long way trailblazing so you can have a short cut. We took a long way trailblazing so your work can take a short cut.
- your future server infrastructure that can grow (or shrink) with your demand.
- your private cloud solutions that serves your workgroups and legal teams, that offers a lot more than storage and is there for you, no matter where you are.
- cutting edge paper handling and archiving including OCR not just for the so-called “procedural languages” (Euro-English, German and French), but for all 24 languages of the European Union languages (including most minority languages). So how does a common mail-administrating centre for all your branches sound?
- a scalable VPN infrastructure that not only works for the road warrior setup but connects multiple offices. (How does a single common mail-administrating centre for all your branches sound?)
- VoIP telephone and fax solutions that adapt to your needs as easy as 1-2-3
- membership administration tools to keep track of all memberships, membership fees and non-monetary contributions, including newsletter and mailing.
- A Zero-Trust Infrastructure enables you to scale up (or down) your operation and work in granular units oder even fully remote while saving on cost for energy and operation in the mean time.
Zero Trust Computing
Many Ransomware Attacks are based on the common misconception that all data inside your network is safe if you have a potent firewall system up and running. But when only one device is connected to the internet, the concepts of “in you network” and “outside your networks” don’t really mean much anymore. After all, if one device in your network is connected to the internet, all of them are.
Introducing: Zero Trust Computing
Until a few years ago, almost every business or organisation thought that security measures can be more relaxed when you are on premise and behind a firewall. Very few saw a need to secure ports or encrypt traffic inside your own network. Unencrypted login data and passwords, files that are conveniently stored on a Samba or Windows-Share with the “guest=ok” option on, what could possibly go wrong. A deluge of ransomware attacks proved everybody wrong and many companies woke up to a hard reality where data was locked away or even tunneled out to criminals that used it to blackmail their victims.
We have long struggled to accept the line that you cannot simply trust your “own” network, but over the course of the pandemic we quickly realized that “our own network” is a very blurred concept. Is the road-warrior or the remote office staff now “on our network” and if they are actually on our network, are their children, too?
As much as we trust our staff, we don’t trust the integrity of IT all too much. So we came up with a few new rules, that would – though being relatively short and simple would transform the way our IT works:
- minimal privileged for users and systems
- all network traffic between our system (regardless of where the machines are physically located) would be either encrypted or it would have to disappear by mid-2020. A target we matched.
- all backups will be encrypted when being created or inmediatly thereafter.
- no unencrypted or publicly accessible file shares of any kind (including backups).
- If a data transfer cannot be encrypted by on board means or the encryption does not meat our standards, it needs to be tunneled (usually using ssh). If this cannot be achieved, the process needed to be replaced by mid-2020
- backups are never ‘pushed to’ a system, but only ‘pulled from’ a system, so a compromised machine will not be able spread an infection to neighboring systems by knowing login credentials to the backup server.
- always use well designed standard tools like rsync, ssh or wire-guard.
- no local data saving (or as little as possible).
This concept is being called “zero trust” and at the and of this transition process, we could not only swap or initially deploy new hardware using minimal resources, due to the use of standard tools, that for example come with every modern Linux distribution or MacOS system. We can now also scale our operation up and down (though mostly up) in a flexible and cost efficient way … and within days or sometimes hours, reducing overhead. So as we set up every device on our network to not have to trust any other device, we could finally start to trust our networking again.
And our staff loves it! No matter where they are: in one of the offices, remote in a camper van at the shores of the North-sea or the Adriatic Sea, at a conference in North America, backpacking through Thailand, at a roadhouse or in a tent: everyone connects to the internet via any connection available and work just like they were sitting in the office next door. Including their personal VoIP, fax (it is still a thing in Germany) and video chat. They switch on their computers and there’s everything right there.
A Zero-Trust Infrastructure enabled us to scale our operation and work in granular units or even fully remote while saving on cost for office-space, energy, operation in general and boosting up staff satisfaction.
By fall 2022 there is not a single person on our staff that works in an office full-time and around 20 % are even completely on a remote plan.
In the beginning, there was quite a fight within our member base over a software donation we had received from Microsoft. Some of our members were not too pleased with it (to put it mildly), while we had been unaware of any issues that might arise from it. Still a significant portion of our member base were frankly up in arms to really teach us a lesson about Closed Source Software. And it was lesson they made us learn well. Eventually, we became converts to the idea of Open Source Software and after a multi-year and sometimes painful period that included cutting loose from Microsoft and other closed source solutions, we finally emerged with a solutions that exactly met our demands and that came especially handy when a global pandemic hit every part of our lives:
Within days all the years of austerity and tons of nerd work, paid off when we had all our staff on remote within two to three days and all workflows were up and running as usual within a week after lockdown without any two people being in the same office at the same time… ever. And that (belief us) included a ton of postal and paperwork.
If you happen to be a qualified entity yourself, you probably know this: you have this rather large case and people are pressuring you to take it to court, but you are stuck, because you don’t know how to make your case or even who to ask for advice.
You can sure pick a lawfirm and some tech company to assist you from some list of experts, but you know, they are all making money with enterprises just like the one your are planning to go after. And sure enough they will answer your call and won’t turn you down right away, but, just as surly they will present you a cost estimate or terms of compensation that you can never even dream to be able to compensate and slowly you realize, that this is the way they are saying “no”, without acutally saying “no”. So you feel like you are asking permission from the man to chellange the man.
But even if eventually you find some lawyers that have the right attitude and the right expertise to take the case, you wonder: do they also have the infrastructure it takes to propperly handle the case, so they can really do the heavy lifting.
We know all this, because we walked down this very road many times before until we build our own infrastructure to tackle every issue on the way. And we are certain, that we can help you a great deal, because we offer:
- smart tools for consumers and members to report and document an infringement of the law
- reporting and tracking tool to not lose a single report or poi
- annual reporting to your local government authority that also gives you an insight into every case you handled or simply create statistics for a summery.
- almost all solutions utilize free and open-source software or are compatible with it, so you can say bye-bye to that Microsoft service that – to be honest – you maybe never really trusted in the first place.
- if you undertake the enterprise to bring collective redress charges against a company we also have the tools and the expertise you need to
- keep a record of the charges and your plaintiffs
- keep your cases on track
- constantly keep an eye on what your lawyers do (or don’t do) in your cases.
We would love to talk about your cases…
so let’s get in touch!
Deutscher Konsumentenbund gGmbH
Karthäuserstraße 7-9, 34117 Kassel