"Lithuania should not close itself off, like North Korea does. Many European countries, our neighbors, allow putting street views on the Internet, and the ban by our institutions to do so seems strange and overly strict. We cannot be among laggards and ignore information technology progress," the minister said in a press release.
A special car was to take photographs for Google Maps' Street View service to provide panoramic views of streets and offer a virtual tour of Lithuania.
The State Data Protection Inspectorate decided that the project might violate people's right to privacy, because it would involve handling of personal data, such as photographs of passers-by and cars.
Google's Street View service has given rise to legal disputes in some countries, including Britain, Germany, and Switzerland.
The service now covers more than 30 countries.
Lithuania’s State Data Protection Inspectorate has advised Google to establish a representative office in Lithuania for the Street View project of the US Internet search giant saying that otherwise the implementation of such a project in Lithuania would be hindered by legal obstacles.
“The problem is that Google should have a representative office in Lithuania, which would be responsible for that collection of personal data. They had chosen a law firm as their authorized representative, which is not quite possible in legal terms,” Aurelija Grikinaitė, the authority’s spokeswoman, told BNS.
The problem was being solved, she said adding that the authority’s representatives would soon meet with Simon Meehan, a Google’s representative from the UK who is responsible for public policy and relations with the governments. Google’s opinion on the establishment of a representative office was still unknown, Grikinaitė said.
“There were several meetings and they were advised to establish a representative office, then they could work legally,” she said.
Early in May law firm Borenius submitted documentation on Google’s activities in Lithuania to the inspectorate. The authority decided that Google Inc. and its authorized representative, i.e. a law firm, did not comply with the data manager status as set forth in the Law on Legal Protection of Personal Data.
In line with legislation in effect in Lithuania, a company, which is established and active outside the European Union (EU), may only handle personal data in Lithuania through a representative, which should be a branch or a representative office. The inspectorate pointed out that Google in this case was established in the US.