Google Moves To Correct Street View Privacy Issues

Google is taking steps in several European countries to undo possible privacy violations caused by its Street View cars. In the United Kingdom, the company will delete Wi-Fi data it accidentally collected, and in Germany it released Street View imagery with a promised blurring process.

The data deletion in the U.K. will occur within the next nine months, according to Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith. He noted that the government will not be conducting further inquiries, and there was no indication any information had fallen into the wrong hands.

Blurring Available ‘Everywhere’

The images released in Germany demonstrate a blurring process that obscures properties whose owners object to the service. An earlier demonstration of the process was flawed in that it partially blurred adjacent properties, and it allowed iPhone and iPad users to see the properties clearly for a short time before the blurring took place.

On Google’s Lat Long Blog, which covers news from the Google Earth and Maps team, Product Manager Andreas Tuerk said the blurring tool is now being rolled out “everywhere Street View is available for all new removal requests.” People can request the blurring through the Report a Problem tool.

Of the many countries that have initiated investigations into possible privacy violations by Street View vehicles, Germany has arguably been the toughest, and it’s the only one where residents can opt out of Street View before the imagery becomes publicly available. But Germany investigators, notably those in Hamburg, haven’t closed the book on possible violations.

As it turns out, Google’s office in Munich is blurred out, possibly as the result of a request by other occupants of the building. According to news reports, the company has received requests to opt out via blurring from about three percent of the properties in the German cities in which Street View has captured data….

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