Jun 092012
 June 9, 2012  Posted by  Non-U.S., Online

This wouldn’t necessarily be news or surprising in the U.S., but it’s made news in Germany:

Germany’s biggest credit bureau Schufa plans to tap social networks such as Facebook and Google Street View in a huge data trawl for personal information to use in deciding whether a person is credit-worthy.

A joint investigation by radio station NDR Info and Die Welt newspaper unearthed internal papers about the establishment of a “Schufa Lab” research group to work out how to link information found on the Internet with other details about personal credit rating.

Read more on The Local. Given how privacy protective Germany has been, I was surprised to read that the credit bureau could even do this. Based on The Local’s coverage, apparently some data protection commissioners might also question the legality, but it’s not clear to me whether the issue would be one of data collection or processing (use), or both:

Consumer protection and data protection groups are furious. “There is always a reason behind such research projects. If Schufa actually uses such data, it would be a completely new dimension,” said Thilo Weichert, data protection commissioner for Schleswig Holstein state.

“People who are on Facebook do not think that what they say there could one day be influential in their credit status. That crosses a line,” said Edda Castelló, data protection commissioner in Hamburg.

BlottR also reports on the plan and includes this quote:

The German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner warned Schufa not to make hasty decisions: “Schufa must not become the Big Brother of the economy,” she said. “Social networks should not be systematically examined and scrutinized for data and then used for credit ratings,” she added. “This would be a violation of the constitutional right to informational self-determination.”

So apparently, there would be some legal issues, but we’ll have to wait to see how this gets played out.

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