May 21, 2009

Germany Requests Google Eliminate Raw Panoramic Mapping Images

According to a German data protection official, Google has yet to fulfill a request to erase photos gathered for the popular search engine's panoramic mapping service.

Johannes Caspar, head of the Hamburg regional office for data protection, said that Google Inc. sent a 13-page response but didn't guarantee that they will delete the raw images after scrambling information like faces and license plates.

"We consider this to be highly problematic," said Caspar.

Google Germany spokesman Stefan Keuchel said the company will continue to work with data authorities.

"We are looking forward to further discussions and to explaining the technical requirements that we need or how street view works and what we're doing with the data," Keuchel told the Associated Press.

Google's Street View mapping service, which offers detailed street-level photographs, has faced privacy complaints from individuals and institutions that have been photographed.

The Google service has spread to more than 100 cities since launching in 2007.

Recently, Greece's Protection Authority rejected Google's request to photograph Greek streets.  The U.S. Pentagon also denied requests to photograph U.S. military bases for the panoramic mapping service.

A human chain of small town residents stopped a Google camera from taking photos in an English village.

Japanese residents complained that the service provided views over fences and around their homes.  Google agreed to re-shoot all the photos in the nation.

Google has assured that it will promptly respond to removal requests, and will work to blur faces and vehicle license plates.

Germany is more worried about the original images.  The nation is fearful the raw information could be mistreated.

Caspar says he expects to meet with Google to discuss the matter before deciding an action to take.


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