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Google, Nokia, And Microsoft Give Privacy In German A Chance

Three of technology's biggest names have signed up to an initiative to increase Internet privacy in Germany. Verein Selbstregulierung Informationswirtschaft—what you and I might call the Association for Self-Regulation In IT—allows users to sign up and then blur or remove views of their homes, cars, or even themselves.

"The companies' self-governance is the right way to go," says the president of IT association Bitkom Dieter Kempf, who also hoped that the new measures would increase the firms' confidence for rolling out new products without worrying about the legal implications. "It is sad that innovative and widely used services are being slowed down in Germany. We don't need a new law for every online service."

Internet privacy has long been a hot potato in Germany. Almost 250,000 Germans had opted out of Street View before its launch back in 2010, the data protection authorities being especially concerned by what information the Google cars were actually harvesting.