- Associated Press - Monday, September 20, 2010

BERLIN (AP) - Germany’s government urged the Internet industry on Monday to produce a voluntary data protection code to cover services like Google Inc.’s “Street View” mapping service.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere met with representatives of Google and Apple Inc. among others after Google’s plans to introduce “Street View” in Germany ignited concerns in the privacy-conscious country over the extent to which people’s personal data are accessible on the Internet.

De Maiziere said he proposed that the industry draw up a data protection code by Dec. 7, and “this met with approval.”

The industry should commit to “data protection-friendly basic settings” and give information “in a user-friendly way” about the gathering and intended use of data, the minister said.

A voluntary code could “make special legislative regulations unnecessary, at least in part,” de Maiziere said, although he conceded that Germany’s Cabinet has yet to reach a final agreement on the extent to which regulation is needed.

The justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, said she could envision a mixture of a voluntary code and legislation.

In an e-mailed statement, Google said: “The legislator must make sure that in addition to the requirements of data protection, the development of innovative business opportunities and modern technology are allowed to flourish.”

It added, “We therefore welcome the proposal for self-regulation and are happy to contribute to it in a constructive way.”

Previously, the company said it has committed itself to extensive measures to protect people’s privacy in Germany, where it allowed people eight weeks to request that images of their homes be deleted from “Street View.”

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