May 24, 2012
Microsoft Halts StreetSide Service In Germany Following User Concerns
More than a year after Google Street View was scrapped in Germany due to privacy concerns and a potential lawsuit, Microsoft has opted to halt its StreetSide service in the European country following similar stiff opposition.
Microsoft received a flood of criticism from German users who were given a comment period by a local data protection agency last year. Enough people complained about blurring directly to the software giant that it forced a rapid withdrawal of its services there.
“We have learned that there are a limited number of customers in Germany who have raised concerns about their blurring requests,” Microsoft Germany spokesman Thomas Baumgartner said in a statement.
Blurring of buildings in photos taken during Google´s Street View mission was a big concern for Germany´s residents. While automation can blur out faces easily, doing so with buildings is a not as easy. After receiving hundreds of thousands of complaints, Google decided to just remove the entire service in Germany.
When Microsoft began its service last year, it thought it had that part all figured out. Apparently the company was wrong.
“As we take privacy and data protection of our customers very seriously, we decided to take down the StreetSide Beta service in Germany, while evaluating these individual cases and working on a solution,” said Baumgartner.
Baumgartner said Microsoft is working out the details and the best possible way to handle the different blurring requests it has received from German users. While the company is working on a solution, there is no set timeframe for when the service will be reinstated.