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June 25, 2007

Google Would Shut Down German Gmail Than Compromise User Privacy

Google is threatening to shut down Gmail in Germany due to a proposed law that probably makes our own Attorney General Alberto Gonzales salivate.  The law would require telecoms to keep connection data on all German citizens including Internet trails, phone call information, and text messages for 6 months.  Anonymity would not be possible under the law.  Google offers anonymous email accounts.  There is no vote scheduled as of yet in the German Parliament.

Google is concerned that complying with the law would affect their reputation with their customers.  They would rather turn off the email product than submit to the law's conditions.  It's a pretty drastic step to leave a major European market to competitors.  Yahoo and Microsoft are sure to trot out the same lines about complying with the laws of a country to do business there.  Yes, even Google resorted to that one with the China market.  While Google and its competitors bow to China's censorship demands, Google has not been linked with turning over user data to the Chinese government.  It would be interesting to see how Google would handle that situation.

The closure, if it happens, could be to Google's advantage, however.  That, with its stand against turning data over to the U.S. government in the COPA trial could convince skeptical users that it's serious about protecting user privacy.  We'll see how this plays out.

Details are in Business Week, and Forbes.

June 25, 2007 | Permalink

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