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Google extends opt-out deadline for Street View

AFP · 19 Aug 2010, 18:45

Published: 19 Aug 2010 18:45 GMT+02:00

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The move is part of an effort to calm a virulent debate over privacy concerns with the service, which allows users to view online panoramic still photos taken at street level using specially equipped vehicles in cities around the world.

The internet giant presented plans last week to roll out images from 20 German cities on Street View later this year.

Uniquely for Germany, Google launched a campaign giving citizens concerned about safety or privacy four weeks to tell the company to have pictures of their homes or businesses pixelled out before they are published.

But after critics complained that the deadline was too short, particularly as many Germans are still away on their summer holidays, the company is now offering to double the reply period to eight weeks, running out on October 15.

After that, photographs can be pulled from the Web only after they have gone online.

The company said in a statement it was doing all it could to accommodate the particular concerns of Germans, still marked by their experiences under the Nazi and East German communist dictatorships.

"In the process, Google has committed to measures that go far beyond those in other countries and take into account the particular requirements of German data protection authorities," the company said.

Google said the decision on the new policy was taken after talks with authorities in the northern city of Hamburg, where its German unit is based.

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The Consumer Affairs Ministry reportedly expects Google to receive some 200,000 opt-out requests.

The German government is weighing new laws on online data protection in the wake of the debate over Street View.

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Your comments about this article

19:05 August 19, 2010 by Prufrock2010
German bureaucrats are Luddites, here in the northernmost country of Africa.
19:16 August 19, 2010 by nailerr
The best way to not stand out is to not opt out. I do not want people paying special attention to my house and I can't think of a better way to do that than to let it be shown on Google Maps like every other house in the street!
11:12 August 20, 2010 by catjones
"The Consumer Affairs Ministry reportedly expects Google to receive some 200,000 opt-out requests."

And, just how did they come up with this bogus number? The Consumer Affairs Ministry that started this controversy has to justify their argument by showing support. In this case, they make up an unsubstantiated, non-objective, biased number. Let's see if the Local follows up with a real requests number.
12:07 August 20, 2010 by dcgi
Groan... I bet as soon as Streetview is finally live you'll stop hearing any anti-privacy news stories and not a peep from a politician.
17:55 August 20, 2010 by Mapper99
Crazy! No one else in the world worried this much as being caught by Google Street View like these poor folks: http://www.streetviewfunny.com
09:48 August 21, 2010 by notelove2
I think this is a terrible intrusion into one's private life. The fact that a future employer may look and see the building you live in and what kind of surroundings, is really shameful. Are we to have no privacy anymore. Must we all be living in goldfish bowls and on public display???
11:23 August 21, 2010 by Prufrock2010
As I said, Luddites. Paranoid Luddites at that. An employer can drive or walk by the building you live in and see your surroundings for himself. Should that be banned too?

If I were running Google I would give up on Germany and block all Google services for every German IP address. The lost revenue isn't worth the hassle of dealing with an intractable bureaucracy and a paranoid population. The "privacy" argument is specious. Every time you swipe a credit or bank card you disclose more about your private life to more corporate and governmental institutions than you can ever imagine. I have not heard of a single case of Google Street View causing anyone any harm anywhere in the world because of an invasion of privacy. But this hysterical overreaction is just what one would expect from a backward Northern African nation like Germany.
19:48 August 21, 2010 by ovbg
@notelove2, I hate to tell you this, but as soon as your perspective employer sees your address, they will already make assumptions as to what social standing and finances you hold. They can also drive by that address, or they may even know it. German cities are not terribly large.

If I was a prospective employer of yours and found out that you think Streetview is the only way I could find out what your house looks like from the outside in total public view from the street, I'd have security remove you from my building on the grounds of wasting my time with an interview.

Sorry, but a public street means the public has a public right for public viewing. That includes your house, and anyone can walk, ride, stroll, run or drive down your street and see your home's exterior in full natural high resolution 3D and even take pictures of it. Streetview isn't needed.
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