The government of Germany has called on Google Inc. and other providers of online navigation services to create a set of voluntary data protection guidelines for services such as Google’s “Street View” by the end of the year.
Failure to do so would result in the imposition of new market regulations to protect consumers, said Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Monday.
De Maizier’s comments came after a five-hour meeting with Internet executives, Germany’s federal justice, consumer protection ministers and various data protection authorities.
"We need a charter guarding private geographical data and we need it drafted... by December 7," the AFP quoted de Maiziere as saying.
"A charter could, and I mean could, make regulation superfluous,” he told reporters during a press conference.
Berlin had called the meeting following public outrage over Google’s plan to display images from 20 German cities as part of its Street View online mapping service.
Launched in 2007, the service includes panoramic images from scores of cities throughout the world taken at street level by vehicles with specialized cameras.
Due to Germany’s history of privacy abuses under both the Nazi and communist governments, the nation is particularly sensitive to potential privacy violations.
In response to Germany’s strong public protest, Google has made the country the only one in which citizens can prevent images of their homes or businesses from being displayed on Street View.
Hundreds of thousands of people have already opted out ahead of an October 15 deadline, the AFP news agency reported, citing media reports that Google would neither confirm nor deny.