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German gov gives Google Street View privacy deadline

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German officials have given Google until December 7 to set acceptable privacy standards for its Street View service.

Other tech firms including Apple have also been asked to collaborate on a voluntary privacy charter for geographical services, under threat of legislation.

Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere summoned industry representatives yesterday amid public concern over the imminent German launch of Street View.

"A charter could, and I mean could, make regulation superfluous," he told a press conference.

In a departure from its privacy policies in all other territories, Google has allowed German home owners to remove their property out of the service before launch. "Hundreds of thousands" have taken up the offer before the October 15 deadline, according to the news magazine Der Spiegel.

The German government has indicated it does not believe the measure goes far enough, however de Maiziere said an opt-in only system is not necessary.

Privacy is a very sensitive subject in Germany, for obvious historical reasons. Earlier this year regulators there were instrumental in forcing Google to admit its Street View fleet had intercepted wireless data around the world. ®

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