Germany demands privacy charter from Google, rivals

Sep 20, 2010
Picture taken on March 2010 shows the camera of a street-view car, used to photograph whole streets, on the Google street-view stand at the CeBIT fair in Hanover. The German government told Google and its competitors in online map services Monday to come up with their own guidelines on data protection by December or face new regulations on the market.

The German government told Google and its competitors in online map services Monday to come up with their own guidelines on data protection by December or face new regulations on the market.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said after a meeting between German officials and Internet executives that they had one last chance to adopt voluntary measures or Berlin would draw up legislation to protect consumers.

"We need a charter guarding private geographical data and we need it drafted... by December 7," de Maiziere told reporters.

"A charter could, and I mean could, make regulation superfluous."

The companies involved did not attend the press conference.

The announcement came at the end of five hours of talks between de Maiziere, the federal justice and consumer protection ministers, data protection authorities and managers from firms specialising in online navigation services.

The German government had called the meeting following public uproar over Google's plans to roll out images from 20 German cities on its online .

Street View, launched in 2007, features panoramic images from more than 20 cities around the world taken at street level by a fleet of cars equipped with special cameras.

Germany is particularly sensitive to privacy concerns due to the gross abuses under the Nazi and communist regimes.

In response to the outcry, the Internet giant has made Germany the only country where tenants and owners can prevent images of their homes or businesses from being visible on Street View before they are published.

According to media reports that has declined to confirm or deny, hundreds of thousands of people have already opted out ahead of an October 15 deadline.

But Berlin had warned that such measures did not go far enough and threatened new legislation to allay privacy and security concerns.

De Maiziere said the industry charter should be hammered out with data protection authorities and require Internet firms to allow users to easily see how their privacy rights are affected by services provided by the company.

But he dismissed consumer advocates' calls for the industry to follow a strict "opt in" policy.

"We need geo-services for environmental policy, preventing natural disasters, searching for a home, planning our holidays -- all of that must still be possible in the future," he said.

De Maiziere said he would back legislation defining "red lines that must not be crossed" to ensure, for example, that Internet users' whereabouts are not revealed online.

But he said such a law would not affect any of the companies at the meeting based on the services they currently provide.

Explore further: Facebook 'newspaper' spells trouble for media

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

German gov't considers 'Street View' concerns

Aug 18, 2010

(AP) -- The German government will consider new rules to address the privacy implications of Internet services such as Google's "Street View," and plans a meeting next month with the California-based company and others, ...

Google, Germany bury hatchet over 'Street View'

Apr 30, 2010

Germany said Friday that Google had agreed to address thorny privacy concerns before launching its Street View navigation service in the country, ending a row between the firm and Berlin.

German ministers told to avoid BlackBerrys, iPhones

Aug 09, 2010

The German government said Monday ministers and senior civil servants have been told not to use iPhone and BlackBerry mobile devices as the interior minister warned a "dramatic" rise in cyber attacks.

Germany to prevent Facebook checks

Aug 25, 2010

(AP) -- Ever thought twice about posting a party picture on Facebook, fearing it could someday hurt your chance at a dream job? A new German law is supposed to solve the problem by making it illegal for prospective ...

Recommended for you

YouTube goes online for second Music Awards

Nov 20, 2014

The YouTube Music Awards are undergoing an overhaul for their second edition next year, scrapping a star-studded gala and instead looking at videos' online buzz.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.