Legislation drafted by Germany's Federal Ministry of Justice is being considered by the German Parliament. If passed, it would require telecommunications providers to collect and keep private information on their German customers for six months, in an effort to help with criminal surveillance. ISPs and providers of e-mail service would be required to collect and store information on users' mailing and internet habits and to do so in such a way as to identify individual web users.
Search giant Google, often criticized for their privacy policies and recently labeled as “hostile to privacy" in a report by Privacy International, is threatening to pull the plug on Gmail in Germany – known locally as Google Mail due to a trademark conflict – if the parliament passes the proposed law:
"Many users around the globe make use of this anonymity to defend themselves from spam, or government repression of free speech," said Peter Fleischer, Google's Global Privacy Counsel, to the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche. "If the Web community won't trust us with handling their data with great care, we'll go down in no time." As an emergency measure, he said -- rather than change the product -- "we would shut off Google Mail in Germany."
The move puts Google on the side of user confidentiality, and they are prepared to stop offering the service to German users rather than allowing co-operation with the new law, that would further harm their reputation concerning privacy issues.