Greece bans Google from expanding its Street View service | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 14.05.2009
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Greece bans Google from expanding its Street View service

US Internet giant Google has been banned from gathering images from Greece for its Street View service until it provides more privacy guarantees.

A Google car recording street scenes in Berlin for Street View

Greek authorities have put the brakes on Google Street View

Google's current proposal is that it will blur faces and vehicle license plates that appear in its Street View service, which gives a real-life view of streets.

However, the Greek data protection agency wants Google to also specify how long it intends to keep its images online and what measures the search engine intends to take to inform residents who may be photographed of their rights.

The service, launched in the US two years ago, now covers nine countries, including Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Spain. Google has said that it wants to expand its service to cover all of Europe.

Street View provides users a 360-degree view of the urban landscape via an icon on Google Maps.

Users are given the option of zooming in to a given location in Google Maps and can then drag the icon located above the zoom bar to a given street.

Upon zooming, users are given a picture view of the street and a 360-degree view of the area.

Germany: tough opposition

Street View is not yet available for Germany. Google's Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer recently told the magazine Focus that "public opposition to Google Street View in Germany, though not hysterical, had been tougher than in any country."

Fleischer said, however, that specific privacy tools will be developed for the German launch, which Google is hoping will happen later this year. The option to have specific images removed would also apply for locations in Germany.

Google has faced complaints, similar to those in Greece, in Japan. They led to the company agreeing to re-shoot all images in Japan for Street View.

Google Japan announced in a statement Wednesday that it would lower cameras, installed on a car roof, after complaints that images were captured over fences and thus violated privacy.

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