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Watchdog calls for stricter data protection

Federal data protection commissioner Hanspeter Thür says new rules are needed to regulate internet services like Google that that deal with sensitive personal data.

Speaking in the Sonntag newspaper, Thür also said that said that applications and services that could pose a potential privacy problem should obtain special authorisation.

Asked if this meant that a kind of "Google law" was required, Thür said: "Yes. A change in legislation is needed not just for Google, but for all IT applications. Everyone that offers applications on the market that could harm personal rights must be certified."

He added in comments published on Sunday that the service provider would have to show that they “offered the best possible protection of privacy”.

The commissioner is already taking Google to court in a dispute over privacy protection in Google’s Street View picture map. An interim agreement between the two means that no pictures will be added to Street View or other applications until the Federal Administrative Court has given its decision.

It emerged this month that Google had also collected unprotected personal information from Swiss – and other European - private wireless Internet networks while taking pictures for Street View. Google has said that this was done in error and that the information had not been used in any way.

Thür said he had made contact with his European counterparts on the issue. Countries such as Germany, France and Italy have, like Switzerland, requested that the collected data is not destroyed, it has been reported. Others, such as Austria, have called for the information to be deleted. and agencies


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