Europe's Privacy Cops

The EU wants others to protect electronic data as it does

Germany's data police, the Datenschutz, considers itself a kind of anti-Gestapo. Whereas Hitler's secret police used files on German citizens as tools of terror and control, the Datenschutz protects people's personal data. Inspectors trek from Berlin to Sioux City, S.D., to Citigroup's giant data-processing center, where computers store financial information about millions of German credit-card holders. The Germans, says Stefan Walz, a Datenschutz commissioner, pay regular visits "to make sure that the data are being handled according to [German] law."

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