Google Sued By British Street Mapping Service

Steetmap suit claiming Google uses "uncompetitive" practices follows announcement by six data protection authorities that they will sanction search giant for privacy noncompliance.
Google Nexus 7, Take Two: What To Expect
Google Nexus 7, Take Two: What To Expect
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British online mapping company Streetmap has launched a court battle against Google, alleging that Google promotes its own maps over those of competitors like itself.

Google's actions have made Streetmap's products "harder to find," the Milton Keynes-based company says -- and that its charges reflect on-going European Union antitrust probes into whether Google favors its own services over competitors in search results.

"We have had to take this action in an effort to protect our business and attract attention to those that, like us, have started their own technology businesses, only to find them damaged by Google's cynical manipulation of search results," Kate Sutton, commercial director of Streetmap, told the Bloomberg news service Thursday. Details of the firm’s complaint were lodged in mid-March in a London court but are only now being made public.

[ Google is no stranger to privacy kerfuffles stateside. Read Google Preps $7 Million "Wi-Spy" Case Settlement. ]

Streetmap says it is a privately owned company with the owners managing and developing the business and that all its technology is self-created and managed, "from massive multi parallel software that powers the web engine to the high performance secure data centers that are used to deliver the mapping services."

The news comes during a rough period for Google in Europe. Last week, six European data protection agencies, in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the U.K., said they were contemplating legal action over Google's approach to privacy. The agencies say legal action is necessary because Google has refused to comply with a four-month deadline they set for it to change its internal data protection structures.

According to France's data watchdog agency, CNIL, which spearheaded the probe, Google did not change course despite a warning in a mid-March meeting with representatives of all six bodies. The U.K.'s Information Commissioner confirmed it was looking at Google's policy but said it could not add further comment because the investigation was ongoing.

The European privacy scrutiny began when a Brussels working party found Google's privacy policy did not meet Commission standards on data protection and that the American company ought to do more to let users check what information was held about them. In a statement sent to the official French news agency AFP, Google defended its privacy policy as respecting European law and allowing it to "create simpler, more effective services."

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