On Wednesday, a German Data Protection office called on Google to modify its practice of handing out personal information. This is another episode in the fight between the American Internet giant and authorities in several European countries. The Data Protection Authority in Hamburg has asked Google “to take the steps necessary to use the data on its German customers in an acceptable legal fashion”, according to a press release.
The Authority is against the way the company draws up user profiles which contain data like age and family situation without the user’s permission. The President of the Authority, Johannes Caspar is on the frontline in the fight against Google. The Authority is the competent authority as Google Germany is based in Hamburg, and its actions are valid for the whole of Germany. It submitted an administrative order in September to force Google to change its practices – practices it started in 2012. However, Google submitted an appeal, which has been examined over the last few months. When the appeal finished, “some of the points raised by Google were accepted, and the order edited as a consequence. But the overall appeal was rejected”, according to a press release.
If Google does not respect the order, it could face a fine for each infraction. The company has a month to decide whether to go before an Administrative tribunal. Defying Google has become very important in Germany, where the respect of private life is highly regarded for historic reasons. The group’s introduction of Streetview, a database containing photos of town’s streets and buildings, also ruffled feathers. Lots of German press editors are currently in open conflict with the company about author rights.