Code for Geodata Services
The Data Protection Code for Geodata Services defines a set of rules to ensure a high degree of data privacy in the area of geodata services and in particular panoramic street services (e.g., Google Street View). Such services are highly relevant for many consumers; they provide a useful tool in their private life, for instance, for house hunting or planning a holiday. However, they are also used in working life and by the German industrial and business sectors.
Nonetheless, with concerns over the use of such services, prominent companies in the IT and telecommunications sectors have decided to introduce and implement an effective Code of Conduct to help strengthen consumer rights in this area and reinforce the consumers’ trust in street view services. The Code of Conduct appropriately balances the interests of those individuals affected and the users and providers of geodata services.
Use of Street View Services
The services regulated under the Code of Conduct strengthen the freedom of information. They are not only highly practical in the social and commercial areas, but enjoy a broad acceptance among consumers within Germany and abroad.
Irrespective of the above, these new forms of services have given rise to concerns and triggered discussions of possible violations of personal rights. Personal rights must be comprehensibly protected, yet also have to be harmonised with the general public’s interest in information.
The Code of Conduct’s objectives
The Code of Conduct seeks to foster informational self-determination, and in this way promote the acceptance of panoramic street views and other geodata services. It sets out principles for data protection that create an appropriate balance between the interests of those individuals affected and the users and providers of geodata services. By voluntarily undertaking to adhere to the Code of Conduct and implement the independent self-regulation through SRIW which this entails, service providers ensure that both the rights to data protection of those affected are guaranteed as well as the general public’s right to free access to information.
Area of Application
The Code of Conduct’s area of application covers the provision of street-side images recorded in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Code of Conduct specifically deals with street view services (e.g. Google Street View), comprehensively regulating the duties of companies and the rights of those affected in this area. Should you have issues with any other geodata services, such as mapping services (incl. satellite images, e.g., Google Maps, HERE Maps or Microsoft Bing Maps), we would ask you to contact the particular service provider directly.
An on-going assessment process facilitates the changes needed to ensure that the Code of Conduct is constantly aligned with social and technical developments.
Signatories to the Code of Conduct are obliged to:
- provide the greatest possible transparency of their services,
- establish a main information and appeals centre,
- ensure that a data protection statement is easily accessible on their website,
- include in a prominent position on their website the details of a contact for exercising the rights granted in the Code of Conduct,
- provide a simple language version of their services on their own website,
- give the general public advance warning of any planned streetside recordings in cities, towns and rural districts by issuing an announcement at least two weeks in advance on their own services website,
- inform the general public on their own services website in which cities, towns and rural districts geodata recordings have already taken place and whether the images are already available online,
- grant those entitled the unlimited possibility of requesting that the images of property, car license plates or faces are treated, in part or completely, so they are unrecognisable (Appeal),
- the blurring of images to make them unrecognisable also applies to the so-called ’raw data’. i.e. the data records which form the basis for the image material accessed online.
Signatories of the Data-Protection Code for Geodata Service are:
- Cyclomedia Deutschland GmbH
Friedrich-List-Str. 31, 35398 Gießen
- Deutsche Telekom AG
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 140, 53113 Bonn
- Deutsche Post DHL AG
Charles-de-Gaulle-Str. 20, 53113 Bonn
- Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043
- Map & Route GmbH & Co. KG
Pretzfelder Str. 7-11, 90425 Nürnberg
Should a SRIW member infringe against a Code of Conduct issued by the association, a complaint can be lodged. You can learn more about the complaints process and submit your complaint online (German).
Please note that appealing against the publication of image material is not part of the complaint procedure. Details on appealing against the publication of image material can be found on the Code of Conduct’s webpage.
Persons entitled to submit complaints
All natural persons resident in Germany as well as consumer protection organisations based in Germany are entitled to take part in the complaint procedure.
Admissibility of complaints
A complaint may be submitted where a signatory of the Code of Conduct has infringed the Code’s regulations.
Submitting the complaint
The complaint can be submitted in writing using our complaint form (German). The complaints submitted are initially screened by the SRIW main for relevance
Complaints submitted anonymously are screened out and not processed further.
Manifestly ill-founded complaints will be returned to the person submitting the complaint.
In the case of a justified complaint, the SRIW main office seeks to achieve an amicable solution between the complainant and the signatory concerned. If no amicable agreement can be reached within the space of two weeks, the main office presents the complaint to the Chair of the Complaints Committee. The period allowed for an amicable agreement can be extended by the complainant or the signatory concerned where reasons for such an extension are presented to the main office.
A complaints agency monitors adherence to the Data Protection Code for Geodata Services and the GeoBusiness Code of Conduct. To this end, the independent SRIW Complaints Committee was constituted, and the following appointed to it:
- Professor Niko Härting (attorney-at-law and honorary professor at the HWR Berlin)
- Dr. Thomas Lapp (attorney-at-law and mediator)
- Dr. Stefan Ricke (attorney-at-law specialised in IT law)
- Thomas Stadler (attorney-at-law specialised in IT law and commercial legal protection)
Dr. Thomas Lapp was elected Chair of the Committee.
On 21 January 2013, the general assembly of SRIW members resolved only to appoint independent experts to the Complaints Committee.
The Complaints Committee examines infringements of the Code of Conduct and is entitled to take decisions to remedy the infringements and impose sanctions.
The members of the Complaints Committee act independently and are subject to the statutory laws, the association’s statutes, the particular Code of Conduct, and the regulations governing the complaints procedure.
Would you like to establish legal certainty for yourself, your customers and those affected, and create trust in the street view services you offer?
The Data Protection Code for Geodata Services as implemented by the non-profit association SRIW offers you a unique, cost-effective solution without requiring the complex adaptation of your business processes.
Membership of our non-profit association also offers other advantages:
- advice on and support in current issues in consumer protection, data protection, and corporate social responsibility (CSR),
- PR activities to heighten an awareness of social commitment,
- image benefits through cooperative solutions and the development of joint approaches in enhancing the profile of social responsibility,
- political advocacy to promote effective and credible co-regulation nationally and on the EU level as a supplementary policy instrument for the information and media economy.
If you are interested in becoming a signatory to the Code of Conduct and an association member or require further details about the Code of Conduct, contact our main office:
Selbstregulierung Informationswirtschaft e.V.