• Germany's news in English

Europcar fined for tracking rental customers

The Local · 18 Jul 2012, 12:18

Published: 18 Jul 2012 12:18 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Europcar has been tracking its customers' journeys for eight years using the satellite navigation systems installed in their cars, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Tuesday.

The GPS systems were installed in 1,300 cars in the car hire giant’s premium category, which includes Mercedes E class, BMW 5 series and Audi Q7.

"The secret tracking of rented vehicles and the secret monitoring of the customers is a serious infringement of the right to privacy," wrote Johannes Caspar, Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information in a press release on the authority website.

"The car hire company is in a position to create movement profiles of their customers. With the help of the location technology, they only have to reconstruct who went where when, who drove at a particular time at what speed."

The Hamburg authority said they first realised what was happening when a complaint was filed to their office this January. They confronted Europcar at the end of March and ordered them to stop the tracking.

The car hire company said they had to track the cars to ensure their customers kept within the confines of the rental agreement, which forbids driving in certain countries. That was why, they insisted, surveillance was only activated when vehicles were driven into particular areas.

However the company promised the data protection authority it would to stop the practice, a spokesman told the magazine.

But when officials returned in April to check, they found that not only were customers still being tracked - but that their location was being determined every 48 hours, regardless of where the vehicle was.

Also, said the authority, the company was automatically informed when the car was driven in certain port areas, and that the date, time and the speed of travel were also being recorded, wrote the paper.

Europcar must now pay €54,000 in fines for "irregular collection and storage of personal data."

Story continues below…

The magazine said Europcar had stopped checking on the cars’ location regularly – but had altered the rental agreements to include a statement saying the customer agrees to being tracked in certain countries.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

17:31 July 18, 2012 by whiteriver
54 k eur in fines doesn't sound much to a company. This would fall in the "don't care if caught again" pile.
21:30 July 18, 2012 by Landmine
Who cares? I bet if the captured data was used to nab a crook who rented a car, no one would have much to whine about...
22:03 July 18, 2012 by lucksi
54k fine? BWAHAHAHA, that'll teach 'em

And hey, it's in the rental agreements somewhere. And you are totally being given time to read all 6 pages of very small print in hardly understandable lawyertalk when you rent a car.
23:58 July 18, 2012 by yourkeau
I don't understand why they do this? If the renter breaks the agreement and drives in forbidden countries, then all the insurances automatically become invalid, and the renter is then fully responsible for possible theft/damage.
07:50 July 19, 2012 by wood artist
In the US the only "restrictions" of this sort (the reason cited for tracking) is whether you're taking the car into another state, or having someone other than the renter driving. Both are usually legal but you're supposed to disclose that, any present the license of anyone else who might drive. Younger drivers might trigger a higher insurance cost, but that's not automatic.

By tracking to specific areas, are they assuming that maybe you're going there to conduct a drug deal or something? Seems a bit odd.

13:01 July 20, 2012 by rosebudnv
I totally disagree with the court's decision. The car belongs to the company and they have the right to know where it is. Car theft is so prevalent, and many are stolen, packed into containers and shipped overseas. Who is being protected here?
00:36 July 21, 2012 by Paul Felix Schott
Anyone with a cell phone that has it on them and if the battery is in it can be tracked. The Law Enforcement has been able to do this years ago, and even do more now.

If you want to really worry about something worry about what are Lord GOD will see and hear you doing. Judgment Day will come for all. Do the Lord's work and help others in our Lord's Name Jesus Christ.

The Lord's Little Helper

Paul Felix Schott
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd