Hamburg threatens sanctions over Google Street View

The city of Hamburg, Germany, is threatening to impose sanctions on Google if it doesn't bring its Street View program in line with the country's privacy laws, The New York Times reports.Johannes Caspar, the data protection regulator for the German city-state of Hamburg, told the Times there are 12 points of disagreement on how Google operates Street View in Germany.

The city of Hamburg, Germany, is threatening to impose sanctions on Google if it doesn't bring its Street View program in line with the country's privacy laws, The New York Times reports.

Johannes Caspar, the data protection regulator for the German city-state of Hamburg, told the Times there are 12 points of disagreement on how Google operates Street View in Germany. First and foremost, he wants Google to stop its unauthorized filming of private property. He also wants better assurances on how Google handles the photos it collects and removes after complaints.

“I have asked for written guarantees on 12 points,” Mr. Caspar said, “and if Google doesn’t deliver the guarantees by the deadline, we will be forced to investigate the possibility of sanctions.” He declined to specify what the other 10 points were or what sanctions were contemplated.

Google's spokesman in Hamburg, Stefan Keuchel, says the company will definitely respond by the deadline but didn't say if it will agree to all 12 demands.

Google, Mr. Keuchel said, agreed at the meeting, in Schwerin, to give Germans the right to opt out of Street View filming in advance by visiting a Web site. Also, property owners can contact Google after Street View goes online and have their property or images removed or made unintelligible by pixelation.

But Mr. Keuchel declined to say whether Google would accede to all the German objections, which a confidentiality agreement prevented him from detailing.

It's a problem for Google in many places, such as Japan, Greece and Britain.