Google faces legal action in Germany over Street View

Jeremy Phillips

Above: some forms of Street View are more popular than others, it seems

Press reports indicate that Google faces penalties if it fails to amend its Street View service so as to comply with German law. Johannes Caspar, head of the data protection agency in Hamburg, listed 12 areas in which he claimed that Street View was in breach of domestic German privacy law. Most of these breaches related to the photography of people or their property without consent and to the handling of recorded data.

Dietmar Mueller, on behalf of the German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Bonn, said the agency in Hamburg was able to issue fines of over 100,000 euros and that, additionally, individuals could take Google to court for breaches of privacy. This latest complaint means that now the data protection administrators of all 16 German states have objected to Street View.

Datonomy notes that, while in principle data protection has been harmonised throughout the European Union, there is no harmonisation of domestic privacy laws — an area in which norms of what constitutes acceptable conduct can vary considerably from one country to another.

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