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Google gestures German pullout on privacy principles

Anonymity ist verboten

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Google is threatening to close the German version of Gmail if the Bundestag goes through with new laws to ban anonymous email accounts.

The federal internet surveillance legislation, which comes into force next year, could compel email providers to verify real names and physical addresses in the name of fighting terrorism. Google reckons the regulations are anti-privacy and that volk will just turn to servers outside the country.

German outlets report Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer said: "Many users around the globe make use of this anonymity to defend themselves from spam, or government repression of free speech."

He added that if the laws have the expected impact, Google Mail will simply be "switched off" in Germany.

It's probably worth noting that Google is currently engaged in a PR battle in Europe to convince the EU and public that it is not a threat to privacy itself. Taking a stand - or saying it might take a stand - in Germany could be valuable to the firm's image makers.®

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