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Social network site to photograph thousands of German schools

The Local · 3 Oct 2010, 13:32

Published: 03 Oct 2010 13:32 GMT+02:00

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The site's co-founder Oliver Thiel told German news magazine Der Spiegel that Stayfriends was pursuing plans to photograph some 20,000 schools around Germany, saying the company would request authorization of the images from school administrators later on.

Such photographs are permitted under current privacy laws in Germany, as long as individuals at the schools are not photographed and the pictures are not taken from school property.

Google Street View, a service that involves panoramic still photos taken at street level, has already sparked a heated privacy debate in Germany, with politicians demanding a review of data protection regulations.

Despite the technical legality of the company's plans, Stayfriends has also drawn criticism from school circles.

"If you want to be reputable and co-operate with the schools, then this approach is questionable," said Ulf Rödde, spokesman for the Education and Science Workers' Union (GEW).

Stayfriends also acknowledged a recent incident, in which a teacher at a Münster school was allegedly threatened for writing down the license plate number of a car belonging to a Stayfriends photographer. The company said it regretted the "misconduct."

Earlier this year, German consumer watchdog Stiftung Warentest criticised the website's approach to privacy issues.

A subsidiary of US company Classmates Online, Stayfriends has nearly 11 million registered members.

Story continues below…

The Local/arp

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:27 October 3, 2010 by ovbg
Hmmm, wanting to photograph a building of a school, not including any images of the children and taken from the public street... and this becomes both news and a contentious issue?

Is it really a good thing to feed on the paranoia of some people? To not only allow them to indulge in their illness but to support it?

What problem could possibly arise from this? Is it possible that a paedophile would suddenly realize that a school is an institution where children congregate from a photo which just shows a building?
06:54 October 4, 2010 by wood artist
Gee, I took a few pictures of a school in Berlin a couple years ago. It's a very famous school, where lots of terrible things happened. I was, however, standing across the street (Grosse Hamburger Strasse) on the public sidewalk. I hope I didn't violate any laws.

Personally, although I'm not sure what the motivation is here, I'm finding this whole thing of "don't take pictures of anything the public can see by walking by" really strange. I understand the Nazi/Stasi sensitivity, but this is just really out of hand.

08:18 October 4, 2010 by JohnPaul44
OK, so now I get it! The Local is actually a humor magazine, and all these stories are made up as jokes!
09:33 October 4, 2010 by frankiep
lol.........and people here say that Americans are paranoid.....
10:49 October 4, 2010 by moistvelvet
"Such photographs are permitted under current privacy laws in Germany, as long as individuals at the schools are not photographed and the pictures are not taken from school property"


And so why didn't Google simply say to the German government to get stuffed and release Street View anyway, why do they have to use this opt-out system if the law says what they did was legal! Whatever happened to "parliament makes the decisions, not the people" referring to the Stuttgart 21 project, why are these morons allowed to steal oxygen, protest about things they don't understand and then get them changed?
23:13 October 14, 2010 by grazhdanin
right, what's the problem with taking pictures of public buildings anyway? sorry, I don't get it...
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