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Germany

German minister urges Google to disclose opt-out numbers

German Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner is urging the Internet giant Google to disclose the number of people who have chosen to opt out of its Street View service. She has demanded "more transparency" on the issue.

A street view camera car in Hannover

The Street View service is already available in 20 other countries

Germany's consumer affairs minister, who has been sharply criticizing US company Google for months over its Street View service, has urged the Internet giant to reveal the number of Germans who are opting out of the online photo gallery.

"For months, the opt-outs have been piling up," Aigner told the German newspaper Rheinische Post. "But we are still not being told how many letters from the citizens of Germany have been delivered to Google so far."

Google has announced an eight-week period to allow Germans to request exterior images of their houses be blurred before the Street View service goes live.

Street View allows Internet users to see panoramic images of street frontages and take a virtual walk through maps. It has already been introduced in more than 20 other countries with little fuss.

Similar services are already available in Germany on websites like Bing.

German press campaigned for opt-out

However, the German media have been hostile to Google, suggesting the images could be used by burglars.

Google rejected the criticism, with the head of Google's European operations, Philipp Schindler, insisting there is nothing to fear.

Ilse Aigner at a press conference

Ilse Aigner wants Google to show more transparency

"We pay close attention to people's privacy," he told the mass-market Bild newspaper. "But there is nothing more public than the front of your house."

Consumer affairs minister Aigner said it would be simple for Google to count the number of opt-outs it has received so far.

"Google has this ambition to make the world more transparent. So I would welcome it if the company would show more transparency itself," she said.

Author: Joanna Impey (AFP/dpa)
Editor: Kyle James

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