19 Nov Google Getting Hung Up In Privacy Issues
WebProNews, KY, By Abby Johnson, November 18, 2008
Google has a significant presence in Europe with large offices in Dublin, Zurich, and London, and smaller centers in Denmark, Russia, and Poland. The giant search company has been well received up to this point, but is now being forced to fight privacy laws. Google Street View, which has been very popular in the U.S., is not getting the same approval abroad. Switzerland officials are trying to discourage Google from introducing Street View since their law forbids the illicit use of personal images or property. Nelson Mattos is the vice president of Google’s twelve engineering centers in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He said Street View would be added in Switzerland “at some point” but did not specify when. Street View is not available in Germany either and their law does not even allow photographs to be taken for the service. Marit Hansen, the deputy director of the Unabhangiges Landeszentrum fur Datenschutz in Schleswig-Holstein, said: “What Google is doing with Street View violates German law. It’s not enough that Google’s Street View is not yet available in Germany. The simple photographing is in itself a violation.” German officials are making threats to fine Google and are offering homeowners stickers that advise Google to not take pictures of their property. Street View isn’t the only area that Google is receiving criticism from either. Advisors to the European Commission inBrussels have concern over the amount of time the search engines keep user logs (a history of each user’s search queries). Regulators are pushing that the search engines dispose of the records after six months. However, Google claims it needs the information for nine months in order for the search engine to properly register data and trends related to news and events. European officials are trying to convince the search engines to meet their terms and delete user logs after six months. If the engines do not comply, the officials have indicated asking the European Commission to step in.