Google threatens to drop Gmail in Germany

Google Inc. is unhappy with proposed German legislation to ban anonymous e-mail accounts and may consider dropping the German version of its Gmail service.

"This whole initiative is a bad idea," a spokesman for Google in Germany said Monday.

The draft bill would require ISPs (Internet service providers) and providers of e-mail service to collect and store customer data that security officials could access if necessary.

In an interview with the German weekly business magazine Wirtschaftswoche, Google's Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer was quoted saying that if the German government passes its proposed Internet surveillance legislation into law, "if need be, we will switch off Google Mail in Germany."

Fleischer could not be reached and the Google spokesman declined to comment on Fleischer's statement about possibly switching off Gmail in Germany.

In the interview, Fleischer urged the German government to drop its plans and warned that a German scheme to monitor e-mail was pointless, given that users could easily turn to foreign e-mail addresses.

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