Germany demands privacy charter from Google, competitors
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.
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 Street View online mapping service.
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 home or business from being visible on Street View before they are published.
According to media reports Google 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.
© 2010 AFP