Germany court rules Google Street View legal

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[JURIST] A Berlin high court has ruled [judgment, in German; press release, in German] that Google’s Street View mapping service is legal in Germany. Last year, a woman sued Google [corporate website; JURIST news archive] alleging that photos posted on Google Street View of the woman, her family and the front of her house violated her property and privacy rights. The court held last week that, because the photos were taken from the street, Google did not violate her property rights. Furthermore, the court found no further violations because Germans can opt out of the service, and Google blurs faces and license plates in the posted images. The ruling was narrowly focused on property rights [DW report], ignoring larger data protection issues the company is currently confronting. The high court’s ruling cannot be appealed.

Google has recently faced a number of allegations from the international community related to violating privacy laws by capturing personal data through Google Street View cars, used for its Google Maps service. Most recently, the French National Commission of Information Technology and Liberty (CNIL) [official website, in French] fined Google 100,000 euros (USD $141,300) this week for violating French data privacy laws [press release, in French; JURIST report]. In November, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office [official website] found that Google had committed a “significant breach” [JURIST report] of the Data Protection Act [text] and required that Google delete the payload data it collected in the UK and implement employee training on privacy principles, security awareness and the Data Protection Act. Other countries, including Canada, Australia and Spain [JURIST reports], have launched similar investigations into the privacy breach. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] ended its inquiry [JURIST report] into Google’s data collection through Street View cars after Google assured the FTC that it did not use any of the collected data and announced that it was committed to compliance with privacy laws [text], instituting new training on privacy principles and appointing a new director of privacy.

Read more detail on JURIST – Paper Chase

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