German Privacy Regulators Still Concerned about Google Street View


Google plans to launch Street View mapping in Germany by the end of this year, according to The New York Times, despite new concerns recently raised by the country's privacy regulators.


Street View has already been accepted in France and Britain, but Germany and Switzerland have stricter privacy laws, it seems. German authorities only agreed to approve Street View if Google agreed to remove property from their photos completely if the owner requested it. Moreover, Google agreed to mask identifying details like faces and license plates, not to mention house numbers.


But just last week, German privacy regulators learned that the search giant is using its cameras to record the locations of wireless routers in the country. Google maintains collecting the information is perfectly legal and something that other organizations -- even within Germany -- already do because the information is in the public domain. The German officials, however, say that Google misled them by not disclosing its activities with wireless routers when the Street View proposal was still under consideration.


Google's defense, of course, is that the wireless local access network data collection is not part of the Street View program, but the regulators aren't satisfied. Hamburg's data protection chief, Johannes Caspar, says he wants to know what Google plans to do with the information it's collecting and that he will inspect the company's "camera cars" soon.


Elected officials in the same city have indicated they will introduce legislation designed to fine Google for every instance in which the company fails to remove the information of property owners who have opted out of the Street View program from its data stores.