(Hunton & Williams LLP) On December 1, 2010, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (the “BMI”) issued a paper entitled “Data Protection on the Internet,” which contains a draft law to protect against particularly serious violations of privacy rights online. In its paper, the BMI rejects the adoption of a specific law to regulate services such as Google Street View. The BMI believes that, to the extent service providers implement sufficient technical and organizational measures to protect data, statutory regulation is not necessary.
The Ministry does, however, see a need for certain statutory rules to protect individuals from serious violations of their Persönlichkeitsrecht or “personality rights.” In particular, the paper mentions Internet services such as facial recognition, search engine profiling and location-based services based on location information. According to the paper, the publication of comprehensive data of this nature, or data that describes an individual in a defamatory way, should be published online or made publicly available only if (1) there is a legal justification for the publication, (2) the individual in question consents to the publication, or (3) there is an overriding policy interest in publication of the data.