Germany: Google Eyes Cologne
Google plans to introduce its “Street View” mapping system to Germany’s 20 largest cities by the end of 2010.
However, Germany’s data protection commissioner says it will be closely monitored by the government.
[Peter Schaar, German Government Data Protection Commissioner]:
„I am happy that Google finally makes it possible for people to decide against (having their homes on Street View). At the same time, for us data protection commissioners the announcement to set off the tool in just a few days came as somewhat of a surprise. So we don’t know yet exactly what will happen to the data and whether the suggested procedure really is acceptable.“
In the western German city of Cologne, with amost one million inhabitants, the local customer service center put up lists where residents can remove their homes from Street View.
Gottfried Breidenbach is one Cologne resident who signed the list. He also protested to Google „some time ago“ by fax.
[Gottfried Breidenbach, Cologne Resident]:
„Google then sent us a form from Hamburg with a deliberate lie. They claimed that so far, no buildings are on the Internet in Germany. That is wrong.“
Senior Cologne city official Guido Kahlen is outraged.
[Guido Kahlen, Senior Cologne City Official]:
„I am surprised and I am appalled. We had a clear deal: Google agreed with Consumer Minister (Ilse) Aigner to complete all complaints and only then will they put the revised version on the Internet … from my point of view, it is not just consumer unfriendly, it is illegal if facts are being created which ignore personal rights.“
In a country wary of surveillance due to the Nazis‘ Gestapo and East Germany’s Stasi secret police, the response to Street View has been overwhelmingly negative, even though Germans got assurances they can have images of their homes kept out.