Criticism of Google Inc.’s Street View mapping service in some European countries shows that the European Union’s data protection system is in need of an overhaul, forcing companies in the future to apply the same policy across the region, the EU’s justice minister said.
Under current rules, “even when there is only one European issue, there is not always one European response,” said Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner, at a conference in Brussels today. The example of Google Street View “and the collection of snippets of personal information from unsecured WiFi networks” led to varying responses from data protection authorities and from the company across Europe, she said.
Google’s Street View plans have triggered probes from data- protection regulators in Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the Czech Republic over the the so-called payload data the Street View cars had collected while photographing roadsides. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission last month ended its probe when Mountain View, California-based Google said it would improve privacy safeguards.
The European Commission, the 27 nation EU’s executive agency, earlier this month unveiled plans for stricter and more harmonized data protection rules that would make it easier for people to get personal data corrected, deleted or blocked and may also introduce criminal penalties across the region.
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