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Privacy first

June 24, 2010

Germany's justice ministers have agreed to support a legal initiative by several of the German states to strengthen data protection versus technologies like that featured in Google Street View.

car with cameras on top on autobahn
Privacy come first for many Germans where Google Street View is concernedImage: picture-alliance/dpa

The justice ministers of Germany's 16 states have agreed to propose making mandatory the obscuring of car license plates as well as individuals captured on film for Internet search giant Google, which provides the Street View service, a street-level panoramic views along streets all over the world.

"Every citizen has the right to a veto, to say I don't want my house to show up in the street view service," Till Steffen, justice minister in Hamburg state, told a news conference on Thursday.

"We're planning a law to back that up, and there will be sanctions, for instance fines."

The justice ministers have also agreed to support the introduction of a compulsory quota for women in executive positions in public companies.

More women at the top

"Voluntary arrangements to boost women in executive positions have not been very successful," Steffen said.

A recent study by the German Economic Research Institute found fewer than one percent of chief executives at Germany's top 100 companies were women.

women on phone in office
Women in top managerial positions are still rareImage: BilderBox

The states of Hamburg and Bavaria had proposed committing large firms listed on the stock exchange to fill an initial 20 percent of executive and board positions with women, and gradually raise that quota to at least 40 percent.

"Ankle bracelets are no cure-all"

The ministers also discussed the introduction of ankle bracelets to electronically monitor dangerous criminals after they've served their sentences - an alternative to putting them in preventive detention, which is a practice that has come under fire from the European Court of Human Rights.

But ankle bracelets are no cure-all, said federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.

"We agreed it is best to not to expect too much of this option. The use of ankle bracelets would have to be clearly defined."

A proposal by the state of Lower Saxony of suspending a criminal's driver's license as a form of punishment for petty crimes failed to win a majority at the ministers' gathering.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger had previously dismissed such a temporary ban. It wouldn't be a fitting penalty for people who do not even own a car, she said, while on the other hand, it would be too harsh a penalty for people who depend on their car to make a living.

Author: Dagmar Breitenbach (dpa/AFP/AP)
Editor: Andreas Illmer