If you can't kill it, bill it: German city charges Google Street View by the kilometre

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[Germany] We Germans are very picky when it comes to online privacy. Not only is Google Analytics in danger of being banned for storing user data on ‘foreign servers’, Facebook apps are probably illegal because they pass too much private information to third parties. Also Google Street View is a constant bone of contention. Several mayors of cities and villages like Molfsee or Pfaffenhofen have already tried to ban Google’s camera cars from their streets, until someone told them there was no law against driving around taking pictures.

A study from Ingolstadt even recommends installing specific Street View prohibition signs on private properties. Although local politicians apparently don’t like it, they can’t make the photo service illegal. Every single house owner has to ask Google themselves to get their removed from Street View. A complete ban would violate article 12 of Germany’s constitution which protects the freedom of occupation.

Google Street View car

Therefore the city of Ratingen yesterday took an interesting decision: If you can’t kill it, then bill it. The finance committee ruled with 12 to 7 votes that Google has to pay €20 per kilometer to take pictures of the city. The head of Ratingen’s law department, Dirk Tratzig, had found out that a photographical capturing of the entire town is a “special usage” as defined in article 18 of the streets law of the province of Northrine Westfalia. Thus Google can be charged.

Ratingen’s streets consist of only 309 kilometers, so the fee is just €6,180 and quite easy to swallow for Google. But the city’s aim is not getting the money, but “to make it at least a little more uncomfortable” for Google, as city speaker Ulrike Elschenbroich put it. If other German cities follow the example, and maybe they impose higher fees, it could spell trouble – even for the Google.

Nuremberg is already considering similar charges for “special usage”.

The CIA World Factbook estimates that our country has 644,480 kilometers of roads. At €20 per kilometer, Google would have to pay €12,889,600 for Germany alone and the entire world would cost more than €640,000,000.

  • http://www.ktolis.gr ktolis

    That is a rather cheap price considering the resolution they detail they are able to capture and the monetization of the data that will come after this effort.

    The only way I’d let them keep the data is that they allow to use the ORIGINAL data captured through the high resolution cameras directly by anyone. And even in that case to allow every citizen to mark content as private at will.

  • chris meidinger

    the unfortunate bit is that this almost certainly costs less that the street view project is going to cost them as-is

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  • http://legaltechtoday.globaledd.com/2009/12/16/if-you-can%e2%80%99t-kill-it-bill-it-german-city-charges-google-street-view-by-the-kilometre/ If you can’t kill it, bill it: German city charges Google Street View by the kilometre | Legal Technology Today

    […] via If you can’t kill it, bill it: German city charges Google Street View by the kilometre. […]

  • http://www.mundivideo.com monoldo

    United States is more great than Germany and is Street View full cover.


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