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Google Street View resumes photography in the Czech Republic

Czech privacy authorities have imposed new restrictions on Google Street View, including lower camera height. The company has agreed to respond to queries within 48 hours, and to avoid schools during busy hours.

Google car

Google must now lower its cameras in the Czech Republic

Google resumed its deployment of Street View vehicles across the Czech Republic late last month, following the acceptance of its new application by the Czech Office for Personal Data Protection, which is also known by its Czech acronym, UOOU.

This move comes at a time when Google is also expanding services into Bulgaria. Recently, it sent representatives from Google offices in Ireland and the Czech Republic to meet with the Bulgarian data protection authority in Sofia.

Google camera

Google has agreed to respond to all Street View-related questions in the Czech Republic within 48 hours

In September 2010, Google was denied permission to collect images by the Czech authorities, largely on the grounds that Google's vehicle-mounted cameras were too high. In the company's April 2011 application, new cameras have been lowered from 2.7 meters (8.8 feet) to 2.3 meters (7.5 feet).

The UOOU also has imposed new restrictions to make sure that the Californian company complies with Czech privacy and data protection law.

Prague imposes new policies

"This company shall be fully responsible for ensuring that collection of personal data in the Czech Republic and processing of the data in data centers is carried out in compliance with the Czech legal regulations on personal data protection," wrote Hana Stepankova, a UOOU spokesperson, in an English-language statement posted to the agency's website.

"This company may be contacted at any time, for example, with complaints, queries or requests for deletion of a particular photograph. These submissions will be given immediate consideration within a deadline of 48 hours. Czech citizens may communicate with the company in Czech."

Google has also agreed to change its usual policy - its drivers in the Czech Republic must undergo special training, where they will learn how to avoid schools are particularly busy times.

Google continues to expand Street View

Google continues to expand Street View across Europe, despite legal challenges

In addition, Google is now also required to alert Czech regional, municipal and tourism authorities when they will be deploying the Street View vehicles.

"The general public will be informed that photographs are being taken via the media, an advertising campaign and the Street View web pages, which will be available in Czech," Stepankova added.

Last year, following the initial forced stoppage by the UOOU, a Google spokesperson based in Germany told Deutsche Welle that the company was optimistic about resuming services in the Czech Republic.

"Street View has proved a popular and useful tool for consumers and businesses around the world," she wrote in an e-mail at the time. "We look forward to finding a solution to bring additional imagery to people in Czech Republic."

Europe continues to clash with Google

Google Street View has been met with a bevy of controversy in Europe as the service has spread across Europe over the last few years.

Most recently, in April, the Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland found that Google had not made a sufficient effort to blur cars' license plates or people's faces. The following month, Google said it would appeal that decision.

However, in March, a Berlin state court ruled that it is legal to take photographs from street level, rejecting the plaintiff's argument in a civil suit that Google was trying to take unauthorized pictures.

Author: Cyrus Farivar
Editor: Nicole Goebel

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