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Google May Close Gmail Germany Over Privacy Law 368

Matt writes "Google is threatening to shut down the German version of its Gmail service if the German Bundestag passes it's new Internet surveillance law. Peter Fleischer, Google's German privacy representative says the new law would be a severe blow against privacy and would go against Google's practice of also offering anonymous e-mail accounts. If the law is passed then starting 2008, any connection data concerning the internet, phone calls (With position data when cell phones are used), SMS etc. of any German citizen will be saved for 6 months, anonymizing services like Tor will be made illegal."
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Google May Close Gmail Germany Over Privacy Law

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  • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Halo1 ( 136547 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @11:59AM (#19628207)
    Unlike what the summary suggests, this is not specific to Germany. It's the implementation of a European directive [edri.org] on data retention. And FWIW, the US is indeed less invasive than the EU [edri.org] at this point concerning data retention.
  • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Informative)

    by moronoxyd ( 1000371 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:35PM (#19628437)

    Outlawing Tor is very much specific to Germany.

    Tor will not be outlawed, but anybody who runs a Tor server from within Germany has to log the connection data, which pretty much goes against the idea of Tor.
    But running or using Tor in general will not be illegal (from what I unterstand).

  • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Informative)

    by vidarh ( 309115 ) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:37PM (#19628447) Homepage Journal
    Funny. You do realize that they can't push through the new treaty without the agreement of the member states government, don't you?

    Furthermore, that one of the real points of contention is that the UK is trying it's best to prevent the treaty from making a charter of fundamental rights for EU's citizens legally binding.

    So for once, rather than complaining about the EU in general and Germany in particular, those of us living in the UK should instead be complaining about how our government at every turn tries to prevent from being bound to give it's citizens any form of protection against it's government.

  • Info... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Raven737 ( 1084619 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:47PM (#19628499)
    Here the original Spiegel Article [spiegel.de](in German, of course).

    Information about the draft law and what people can do to prevent it from being passed can be found at the following site:
    http://www.vorratsdatenspeicherung.de/ [vorratsdat...cherung.de] (also in German)
    What's scary is the range of people that are supposed to get access to the collected information,
    it's not just the police but also "Nachrichtendienste" (news agencies!?) and "ausländische Staaten" (other countries, apparently any that ask)

    I'm guessing this is caused by some lobby/bribe action of organizations like the RIAA/MPAA.
    I can't think of one good reason of why this might be good for anyone,
    criminals will just use bot proxies or other means to bypass the tracking/collection and in the end
    it will just be the honest people that get f#cked because with general government incompetence
    the the data will end up in the criminal's hand's and used for who knows what.
  • Re:China (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:05PM (#19628587)
    Good point, except that... Google *has* disabled email in China, hasn't it?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/25/technology/25goo gle.html?ex=1295845200&en=2678138bc51a41b6&ei=5090 &partner=rssuserland&emc=rss [nytimes.com]
  • Re:Phew! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardpriceNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:20PM (#19628665)
    The European Council consists of heads of state and government of the EU. The members therefor are, by default, elected by each countries populace. The European Council also has no legislative powers.

    The European Parliament consists of ministers elected by the populace of member states every five years, last elections held in 2004. The parliament has legislative powers.

    The Council of the European Union consists of ministers from each member state, and is transitory in that which minister attending depends on the matter at hand. By default, these ministers are elected as they are a member of their elected government. The council has legislative powers.

    Which unelected council are you referring to?
  • Re:Minimum Flare (Score:3, Informative)

    by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) * on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:33PM (#19628737)
    It's "flair" BTW.

    And we don't have to wear it - yet, BUT we have to *always* carry our passports or other state ID with us at all time.

    "Papers please" is not that far off, and some religious minority WAS forced to wear yellow pieces of flair once upon a time in German history...

    I think the EU is becoming worse than the USSR in maybe a decade. Thank God "rogue" states like Poland are bombarding and vetoing every decision the EU makes, so even the lowest common man is starting to realize what's happening at the EU helm. But that superstate is not going down fast and it's not going down silently. Expect riots...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:43PM (#19628809)
    These vans are a (widespread) urban legend. I live in Germany and I know a lot of people who don't pay those dues, despite having a radio and/or a tv. Actually, I have a radio and a TV-Card and don't pay them myself. They really come and knock on my door from time to time (like once a year...) and ask me wether I have devices I want to register, but so what? I just say "no" and I don't have to let them in.
  • by dunkelfalke ( 91624 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:58PM (#19628909)
    the GEZ vans are an urban legend [rundfunkge...nzahler.de]
  • by cpghost ( 719344 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:18PM (#19629051) Homepage

    That's not the solution. Germany has jurisdiction over DeNIC, the .de registry. So they could have them pull the DNS records for any reasons. The solution is for privacy-aware Germans to use a generic gTLD domain like, say, .net, .org or .com.

    If Google closed shop in Germany, so what? All what Germans need to do is to use google.com, over which Germany has no influence whatsoever. Actually, it's Google that's pushing Germans to google.de and force them use googlemail.com instead of gmail.com for GMail, with some kind of geo-based IP detection, even if they go to google.com. Crazy! Now would be good time for Google to stop this country-specific nonsense and let users choose (without forcing them to set cookies, use proxies to sign up for gmail.com addresses and what not).

  • Re:Minimum Flare (Score:4, Informative)

    by mjbkinx ( 800231 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:31PM (#19629115)

    we have to *always* carry our passports or other state ID with us at all time

    I think you're misunderstanding "Ausweispflicht". We are required to possess a national ID card or a passport, not to carry it with us (which would be "Mitführpflicht"). There is a Mitführpflicht for drivers licenses, but only while driving.
  • by crazyjimmy ( 927974 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:48PM (#19629213)
    Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I was under the impression that Google has refused to provide any functions other than search in China. They don't host their gmail servers or any of their info that contains user info. They don't want the government using them to track its users, and that's the same here as it is in China.

    Or has something changed that I hadn't heard about?
  • Re:Phew! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Halo1 ( 136547 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:53PM (#19629243)

    There wouldn't be such a directive if Germany hadn't pushed this forward the whole way.

    I doubt it, since this was mainly pushed through by the UK Presidency. And pretty much the only fundamental opposition came from Ireland. But guess what: not because they're against data retention (in fact, a framework decision on this topic was approved under Ireland's presidency of the Council), but because they don't think it's a third pillar [wikipedia.org] competence (the data retention directive was a codecision procedure).

    That's how you bypass national legislature in Europe nowadays.

    I'll be the last [ffii.org] to argue that the the EU Council of Ministers is working well according to democratic standards, but at the same time I don't see anything Germany-specific about this particular directive or law.

  • by HALsaves ( 859179 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @03:09PM (#19629327)
    That is exactly right. Google does not offer gmail in China for this exact reason. They are not being hypocritical at all.
  • Re:China (Score:2, Informative)

    by rentmej ( 775047 ) <rentmej@gm a i l . com> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @05:28PM (#19630117) Homepage

    Ahh - Close. Did you even RTFA that you linked to?

    Actually it was Yahoo that was outing anonymous users in China.

    Google actually has a good record of protecting people's anonymity in China (Per your article), they just doesn't give them all of the web. Which is kind of funny since you now have people who are realizing that their government is censoring.

    US search Tienanmen's square [google.com] Vs China search Tienanmen's square [google.cn]

    So how many people in China really think that those are the only pictures out there?

  • Re:Phew! (Score:2, Informative)

    by djasbestos ( 1035410 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:53AM (#19636749)
    Ah, the wonderful Political Compass [politicalcompass.org]

    I tend to agree, though...the cartesian -10,-10 has never been tried except maybe by Roddenberry. And using the two dimensional system can also show the vast differences between the Republican candidates for president this go around...they're all "right wing / conservative" in traditional 1-dimensional measures, but they aren't even close in two dimensions (Tancredo being probably 6,10 (fascist) and Ron Paul being 10,-7 (libertarian) and Romney about 9,4 (douchebag)).

Usage: fortune -P [] -a [xsz] [Q: [file]] [rKe9] -v6[+] dataspec ... inputdir