UK internet users need protecting against companies like Google, which may be impinging on their privacy, according to a British MP.
Robert Halfon is scheduled to open a debate in the House of Commons Thursday about internet privacy, and has written a column in The Guardian as an introduction. He explained that ministers are concerned about incidents like Google's Street View cars gathering personal and identifiable user data.
"The Google Street View episode is starting to look very serious indeed. The first rumours came earlier this year, when Google admitted that 'fragmentary' data had been picked up by some patrol cars. This was an innocent mistake, it said, but it wasn't the whole truth," Halfon noted.
"The news prompted me to request a debate in the House of Commons. Thanks to a backbench parliamentary committee, my debate is finally to be held today. For the first time, MPs will hold Google and other internet companies to account."
Google has gone too far and is "violating people's right to privacy", Halfon said. He added that the UK "risks sleepwalking into a privatised surveillance society", harking back to a 2004 warning from previous Information Commissioner Richard Thomas that the UK was "sleepwalking into a surveillance society".
The search company has trampled over user rights in a way that could set a dangerous precedent, according to Halfon, who suggested that Google should face the full weight of the law to avoid worse incidents in the future.
"Google might have honourable intentions. But if we permit this invasion of privacy today, what might it be used for tomorrow?" he asked.
Halfon pointed out that Google's offices in South Korea had been raided, and that Street View is banned in Greece and the Czech Republic.
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