Google's Street View will not resume its activities in the Czech Republic

By EDRi · September 22, 2010

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Deutsch: [Keine Wiederaufnahme von Google Street View in Tschechien |]

For the second time, the Czech data protection authority (UOOU) rejected
Google’s application to resume its data collection through its Street View
system. The Czech data agency had already rejected a similar request from
Google in December 2009. However, Street View photographs taken prior to
October 2009 will remain online.

Hana Stepankova, a spokesman for UOOU said they had concerns over the
legality of Google’s service. “We do not have complete certainty the
information (collected) is being processed according to law,” she said.

Google representatives have expressed their disappointment and their belief
that Street View is legal in the Czech Republic. “We have in place robust
procedures to protect privacy, such as face and number plate blurring and a
removals tool. We’ll continue to engage in dialogue with the (data
protection authority) to answer any other questions they have,” wrote Lena
Wagner, Google spokesperson, in an e-mail to Deutsche Welle.

She expressed Google’s confidence that the agency would grant the company
permission to resume data collection, provided the process could be done
legally. Stepankova also confirmed the intention of the Czech authorities to
continue the dialogue with Google in this matter.

In Germany, several hundred thousand people have chosen to opt-out from
Google StreetView’s service; the Germans have been given the possibility to
opt-out by 15 October 2010 in case they did not want their homes or
businesses to be included in the service.

In the light of the debate over Google Street View service, the German
government has decided to consider new laws on online data protection. On 20
September, a high-level meeting took place in Berlin, chaired by Interior
Minister Thomas de Maiziere, with representatives of the IT industry to
discuss the chances, risks and restrictions of publishing private data on
the Internet.

In an e-mail sent to Deutsche Welle, Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, an Austrian
professor and the director of the Information and Innovation Policy Research
Center at the National University of Singapore expressed his opinion that
Google will continue to face problems in several European countries having
in view the different approaches in the implementation and interpretation
of the data protection directive.

“It is conceivable that capturing license plates and building facades
through Street View is legal in the UK, but illegal in the Czech Republic.
Especially nations with a surveillance past (like Eastern and Central
Europe) often have tough privacy laws. It will take a long time and much
effort for Google to navigate this thicket of information privacy laws,”
said the expert.

However, Google has recently been cleared in the UK by the Information
Commissioner, as it has been found that Street View vehicles had
not collected “significant” personal details but the company it is still
under investigation by the Metropolitan police.

In the meantime, the company continues to extend its Street View service
into Europe and stated in August they would send their Street View cars to

Czech Republic stops Google from further Street View photography

Czechs halt Google Street View (15.09.2010)

Strong German opposition to Google Street View: report (19.09.2010)

EDRi-gram: Google Street View faces citizens’ reservation in EU (25.08.2010)