German Privacy Laws Threaten Gmail Service

Facing new data rules, firm would rather switch than fight
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2007 11:27 AM CDT
German Privacy Laws Threaten Gmail Service
Exhibitors of the Google company work on laptop computers in front of an illuminated sign of the Google logo at the industrial fair Hannover Messe in Hanover, Germany,in this April 17, 2007 file photo. Google Inc.'s privacy practices are the worst among the Internet's top destinations, according to...   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – Google will halt Gmail service in Germany next year if the country enacts aggressive surveillance legislation pending in the Bundestag. The law, which reflects EU regs on data retention, would compel telecom companies to keep records of Internet and phone activity for 6 months, Der Spiegel reports. A company consultant calls the measure a "heavy blow against the private sphere."

Gmail doesn’t earn the highest scores from pro-privacy groups, but it does offer anonymous accounts and has been lauded for withholding information from government inspection. Google calls shutting out German users an emergency move, intended to demonstrate its support for consumers as they battle big and small concerns—namely, political repression and spam. (Read more online privacy stories.)

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