German Privacy Chiefs Have Cloud Computing Concerns

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By Jabeen Bhatti

Oct. 5 — German data protection commissioners recently issued a resolution saying that manufacturers of cloud-based operating systems whose default settings automatically allow for the storage and transfer of users' personal data may face swift action to minimize data protection risks.

The 90th Conference of German Federal and State Data Protection Commissioners—a voluntary association of national and state German data protection regulators—said in an Oct. 1 statement that the group is concerned about cloud-based operating systems, such as those developed by Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., that automatically store users' personal data on devices and transfer it to system operators and manufacturers.

Because users don't peruse default settings “in detail” consumers are consequently “forced” by manufacturers “to become active themselves” to prevent the pre-programmed storage and flow of their data, the commissioners said.

Privacy Defaults 

The conference called on manufacturers to abolish the practice of automatic collection and transmission of personal data by installing “privacy-friendly” default settings in their software. Manufacturers should ensure that end users are “continuously informed” about when their data is transferred, the conditions of use and purpose, the statement said.

Conference members have been involved in ongoing trialogue negotiations for a European Union-wide proposed data protection regulation and its recommendations “should” be adopted, it said.

“Only then would a self-determined choice by users be possible,” the conference said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jabeen Bhatti in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald G. Aplin at

The resolution is available at