Geo-data services offer great opportunities for individuals, corporations, and public institutions: While citizens are, for example, enabled to simplify their searches for flats or holiday venues, insurance companies and fire services can more easily assess risks. Local authorities use geo-data to optimize road networks and to plan repair works of public venues. There are innumerous more opportunities the use of digital geo-data has to offer - but there are also concerns regarding personal rights and data protection issues.

This is why a number of well-known companies - as for example Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Post, Google Deutschland, Microsoft Deutschland, and HERE - developed and implemented the Code of Conduct on Data Protection for Geo-Data-Services in 2011. This code of conduct aims at enhancing the public acceptance of geo-data services and at supporting the right to informational self-determination. By defining basic rules for the use of panoramic picture material, the interests of different groups of people and actors involved are balanced by ensuring a high level of transparency and data protection. The signees committed themselves to

  • provide transparency regarding their services

  • establish a central information and objection platform

  • place easy to find information on privacy and data protection on their website

  • place easy to find contact information on their website to ensure that consumer rights enshrined in the code of conduct can easily be exercised

  • inform about new photo shootings to collect street panorama material at least one month in advance

  • inform about cities and regions where pictures have already been taken and if they are currently available in the internet

  • automatically blur faces and license plates in the picture material before publication

  • give affected citizens the right to object against the publication of picture material including individual faces, license plate numbers and houses.

The code of conduct will be evaluated regularly to safeguard the adequacy in the light of new societal and technological developments. 

The code of conduct was implemented by the association Self-Regulation Information Economy (German: Selbstregulierung Informationswirtschaft e.V. - SRIW), that is also responsible for the correct application of the code. The non-profit-organization generally serves as a platform for the development, implementation, enforcement, and evaluation of various codes of conduct related to consumer and data protection. By doing so members of SRIW jointly fulfill their corporate social responsibility, demonstrate that industry self-regulation works effectively and promote it as a preferred tool of internet governance.