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Car Rental Company fined for spying on clients

Car hire company Europcar has been fined nearly 45,000 for tracking customers who rented luxury vehicles in the city of Hamburg.

Data protection officials have called the practice "a serious breach of the right to privacy."

Europcar tracked its customers' journeys for eight years using the sat-nav systems installed in their cars.

The GPS systems were installed in vehicles like the Mercedes E class, BMW 5 series and Audi Q7.

"The secret tracking of rented vehicles and the secret monitoring of customers is a serious infringement of the right to privacy," said Johannes Caspar, Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information.

"The car hire company is in a position to create movement profiles of their customers. With the help of the location technology, they only have to reconstruct who went where when, who drove at a particular time at what speed." The practice was discovered after a complaint filed earlier this year.

The car hire company said it had to track the cars to "ensure customers kept within the confines of the rental agreement, which forbids driving in certain countries."

That was why, they insisted, surveillance was only activated when vehicles were driven into particular areas.

German Herald

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