This week a joint investigation by radio station NDR Info and Die Welt newspaper discovered internal Schufa papers about tasking a research group with working out how to link information found on the internet with other details about personal credit rating.
Although the research institute – the private Hasso-Plattner Institute in Potsdam – said on Friday it was pulling out of the project because it had been “misunderstood” – the question remains of what information could reasonably be used by Schufa in making a credit rating.
The idea was to use profiles on services such as Facebook, Xing and Twitter in order to get addresses, as well as gleaning information from property rental and sale sites such as immoscout24 or mobile.de.
This kind of talk always touches a nerve in Germany, where people are notoriously sensitive to data protection rules - as can be seen in the trail of legal wrangles with sites like Facebook and Google Street View. Germany successfully fought a battle to allow people to have their hones pixellated out on the latter.
The country's consumer protection and data protection groups are furious about the new intervention. “There is always a reason behind such research projects. If Schufa actually uses such data, it would be a completely new dimension,” said Thilo Weichert, data protection commissioner for the state of Schleswig-Holstein.
But what do you think? Are the Germans just being paranoid, or do the credit bureaux have the right to use whatever means necessary to provide accurate credit ratings, even of private individuals? How would you feel if you knew that Schufa was scanning your Facebook profile?
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