Politicians call for ‘geotagging’ laws ahead of data summit

German politicians on Monday called for comprehensive data protection regulations ahead of a summit in Berlin on handling hot-button issues such as geotagging and the controversial online mapping service Google Street View.

Politicians call for 'geotagging' laws ahead of data summit
Photo: DPA

“The rights of users and those whose data is being dragged along with them must be simply and clearly strengthened,” Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk, adding that geographical data services such as Google Street View are only a small aspect of the problem.

The government must conduct talks with service providers to find out how they gather their data in order to better protect the rights of those involved, she added.

“How to define exactly what personal data is and which details should not be used should also be discussed,” the pro-business Free Democrat said, explaining that she hoped to create a law to allow user anonymity.

In addition to a user’s right to data disclosure from the service provider, they should also be able to have information deleted and file complaints, she told daily Passauer Neue Presse in another interview on Monday.

Each day people leave behind countless digital traces which, while likely harmless on their own, could be gathered to create questionable personal profiles, she said.

Meanwhile telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom encouraged clear legal guidelines for internet service providers.

“We are all in agreement that data security and trust are extremely important topics,” head of the company’s T-Systems division, Reinhard Clemens, told daily Der Tagesspiegel. “I hope that government policy works more quickly and strictly so that we have some clarity and transparency.”

Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner, who will also attend the summit in Berlin, agreed that new data protection laws on geotagging, which adds locational information to photos and online applications, were necessary.

“A voluntary agreement in the industry is not sufficient in my opinion,” she said.

Germany’s data protection commissioner Peter Schaar said he hoped the summit would yield solid results.

“It can’t just remain about talking,” he told news agency DPA. “There must also be conclusions.“


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