EC Quizzes Google Over Street View Privacy

MarketingRegulation

The European Commission has been debating the effectiveness of the protection of personal data in services such as Google Street View

The EC has organised a conference this week to discuss how businesses and consumers should react to the challenges poised to protecting personal information.

The conference in Brussels, held on Tuesday and Wednesday, will examine the use, exchange and protection of personal data in the EU.

“I consider that our existing general principles for the protection of personal data are more than ever necessary and of timeliness. These principles form undeniably a solid base which has proved its worth in all Member States and has served as inspiration to numerous third countries,” said vice-president Jacques Barrot, commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security. “However, the time has come now to look at new challenges so that Europe and its much-admired model for the protection of personal data continues to provide the necessary protection – not only in today’s world but also in tomorrow’s world.”

Speakers at the event included Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer who was quizzed about Google’s controversial Street View camera-car. He was asked by a delegate from Luxembourg why Google does not flag up when its camera vehicles are visiting a city.

“I fully sign up to the principle that citizens in these cities should have a way of finding this information – there is a list on the internet of places we will visit,” he said. “Can we do more and can we do better? We are constantly trying to perfect systems but we we will never live in a perfect world where each and ever citizen will have a perfect time-table of when this kind of filming will happen. We will have to use the miedia to let people know where we will be which we are trying to do.”

Google Maps and its Street View feature, in which users can see a locale at eye level, has been given a hostile reception in some town and cities. In April a group of British villagers formed a human chain to turn away a car shooting images for Street View. The minor disagreement over online privacy issues arose last week in Broughton, a hamlet in Southern England that was already on alert for “suspicious activity” after a recent spate of burglaries, according to the London Times Website.

Earlier this month, EU commissioner Viviane Reding said that Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) should become fully privatised and accountable to a G12 style council of countries rather than just the US.