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Germany, Google Iron Out Street View Issues

May 1, 2010

On Friday, Germany reported that Google has agreed to address privacy concerns before launching its Street View navigation service in the country, which ended a row between the firm and Berlin.

Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner said in a statement that Google “has agreed to start its new ‘Street View’ service only when all the objections raised by citizens have been fully taken into account.”

Street View is already available in the U.S., Japan, Australia and other parts of Europe.  It allows users to view panoramic still photos taken at street level using specially equipped vehicles.

The technology has given rise to privacy concerns in Germany, which is sensitive to the issue after the Nazis and communists in the past history. 

Officials were concerned that thieves could use pictures of private houses to gain illegal access, and that photos of people were being published without their consent. 

However, before the service can go live in Germany, Google must promise to black out properties if individuals raise concerns.

“What is private must remain private,” said the minister.

German officials demanded that Google stop collecting information about private “WiFi” wireless Internet networks, according to an AFP report.

Google responded that it was not the only firm that was doing this, and German companies were also carrying out similar operations.

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