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Google Threatens To Shut German Google Mail; Blames Germany’s Own Privacy Laws

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Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer has warned the company may have to close its Google Mail service in Germany – because new government legislation does not afford citizens freedom of speech. It’s audacious – Google this month agreed to curtail the length of time it keeps users’ search records after concerns from an EU data protection watchdog that last week announced it would expand its inquiry. Schooled partly in Munich, Fleischer spoke out on proposed justice department laws, designed to combat terrorism, that would compel services to identify users by matching data to names (see Wirtschafts Woche). But his comment appears to drive a wedge between the EU and one of its key member states: “Many users around the globe make use of this anonymity to defend themselves from spam, or government repression of free speech … If the web community won

3 Responses to “Google Threatens To Shut German Google Mail; Blames Germany’s Own Privacy Laws”

  1. Matt Bennett

    I found your post to be very interesting regarding Google’s bold reaction to Germany’s proposed law to match Internet data to names, and how Google has taken this opportunity to pretend that it is very concerned about protecting its users’ privacy.

    My organization the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) recently explored the privacy and security concerns associated with data retention mandates in its online newsletter. The newsletter shares the views of Hance Haney, a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and Peter Swire, a professor of law at the Ohio State University and a fellow at the Center for American Progress.

    Here are the key points that they make:

    Haney concluded that collecting users’ IP addresses would not stop criminals from connecting to public Wi-Fi access points as anonymous users. Even if these public hotspots required users to register, Haney explained that criminals would use residential wireless networks that are “frequently unsecured.”

    Swire concluded that the US should continue to use the current data preservation law and not adopt a nationwide data retention mandate. Swire, however, said that the data preservation system must be improved to ensure that any sensitive government data collected by ISPs would not end up in the wrong hands and threaten our national security.