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Germany seeks privacy code for online mapping

Germany: The government of Germany has called on Google Inc. and other providers of online navigation services to create a set of voluntary data protection guidelines for services such as Google’s “Street View” by the end of the year.

Failure to do so would result in the imposition of new market regulations to protect consumers, said Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. The comment came after a five-hour meeting with Internet executives, Germany’s federal justice, consumer protection ministers and various data protection authorities.

“We need a charter guarding private geographical data and we need it drafted by December 7, 2010,” AFP quoted de Maiziere as saying. “A charter could, and I mean could, make regulation superfluous,” he added.

Berlin had called the meeting following public outrage over Google’s plan to display images from 20 German cities as part of its Street View online mapping service.

“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,” De Maiziere continued. Instead, he would support legislation defining “red lines that must not be crossed.” Among other things, this would guarantee that users’ whereabouts are not exposed online, he said.

Google appeared to embrace the opportunity to help develop the new rules. The Internet search giant said it would “welcome the proposal for self-regulation,” and was “happy to contribute to it in a constructive way.”

“Online mapping and geographical tools are becoming ever more important for citizens, authorities and companies – a trend which is only set to increase through the tremendous growth of the mobile Internet,” a Google spokesperson said.

“Any future legislation must make sure that in addition to the requirements of data protection, the development of innovative business opportunities and modern technology is allowed to flourish.”

Source: redOrbit