Google threatens to shutdown Google Mail in Germany

By on June 26, 2007, 4:14 PM
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.

User Comments: 3

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cfitzarl said:
Huh, seems like google doesn't like it when the government snoops around ;) .
peterblaise said:
I'd rather see Google fight than run. (a) The government makes no equivalent demand on the post office (or any other business) to keep 6 months of private information on the content of it's transactions, so this is definitely a competition smashing scheme, making it easier for the post office to do their (much less) work.(b) The government wants private industry to pre-collect socalled potential "evidence" that the government *may* want someday just in case a crime *might* be committed that would be resolvable *only* by this information, as if the government wants Google to absolve the Police of doing their own work, again, making it easy for the Police to do their (much less) work.So, Germany is dropping democratic capitalism in favor of bureaucratic socialism, eh? Everything old is new again! Heil!C'mon, everyone in Germany, join Google Mail now, but join as pseudonyms using the same names as those blithering ****** in German government who thought up this "make work" idea, and then visit porn/spam sites to get loads of trash under those government official's names![Edited by peterblaise on 2007-06-27 06:48:57]
peterblaise said:
> cfitzarl said: Huh, seems like google doesn't > like it when the government snoops around.Peter Blaise responds: I think "government" snooping is not the issue. At least there's some kind of control where they need a legitimate court order, one crime at a time, after a judge has vetted out the appropriateness of collecting particular relevant "evidence" in a particular case. This makes sense, protects the legitimate interests of everyone concerned, and is the norm throughout the world, and has been even before the Internet. The mind boggling challenge here is the demand that email providers run their business a certain, government-designed way, and NOT for customer service, but to serve the Police, and have the private business act as an unsupervised, unchaperoned, unelected, PRIVATE extension of the Police. The Police are held to certain standards with government and public oversight. Not so private industry. So, Germany is asking private industry to spy on their own people, and do it in a way with no government or public scrutiny. Cool! It's even worse than I thought - that's "communism by edict", and sub-contracted at that! The people in German government have become their own enemies! I'm being too kind when I call them "blithering ******". Too kind. Hello, Germany: Bush is a BAD example, do NOT do as he does! :-(
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