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Science

Google extends Street View exemption period

The California company said it will give German residents eight weeks to request the removal of pictures of their homes from its mapping service prior to the images going online. Privacy officials applauded the move.

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Google has said it will launch Street View in Germany before the end of the year

Google will double the amount of time that German residents have to file requests blocking images of their home on the company's Street View service prior to their being published on the Internet, the company wrote on its blog Thursday.

Last week, when Google announced that it would begin its Street View service for the 20 largest cities in Germany sometime before the end of the year. At the time it provided residents four weeks to file a request for removal.

"We have decided to extend the removal deadline for the 20 largest cities in the Internet from four to eight weeks," wrote Philipp Schindler, the company's president for northern and central Europe, in the blog post. "We want to give citizens sufficient time to oppose including their homes or flats in Street View. You can now submit requests until October 15, 2010."

Privacy officials satisfied

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Merkel said she would allow her residence to be photographed

In a separate press release, also released Thursday, Google confirmed new privacy policies in accordance with one of its strongest critics, Johannes Caspar, the data protection commissioner for the city-state of Hamburg.

Google said it will securely transmit and store the data collected by the company from people wishing to remove their home from the Street View service. Further, that data would only be used for the purpose of editing the site and then will eventually be destroyed in accordance with German privacy laws.

Google and the office of the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information agreed that the office's representatives could verify any stage of this procedure, in-person, at any time.

"Google has confirmed to me that the data will be handled carefully and that it is not kept longer than necessary," Caspar said in the same statement distributed by Google. "I very much welcome that we succeeded in extending the objection deadline for citizens by four weeks after discussions with Google."

The move comes at a time when many German government officials remain skeptical of Google's behavior when it comes to privacy. Google advertised in German publications, including the popular tabloid newspaper Bild, and the news magazine Der Spiegel, briefly outlining what exactly Google Street View is and why Germans shouldn't see it as a threat.

The Street View feature on Google Maps currently exists in 20 countries worldwide, including many European countries. The company also said last week that 1 million Germans use the Street View service daily to check out places outside Germany.

Author: Cyrus Farivar

Editor: Sean Sinico

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