September 20, 2010
Google’s Street View Faces Strong Opposition In Germany
As officials from the German government met on Monday to discuss privacy issues centering around Google's Street View service, weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported that "several hundred thousand people" have told the California-based technology corporation that they do not want their homes and businesses featured on the mapping service.
"Der Spiegel cited sources close to Google, which in August said it expected tens of thousands of tenants and owners to respond to its offer, unique to Germany, to pixel out buildings before images are published," a Sunday report from AFP noted, adding that the company planned to launch its Street View service in Germany later on this year by featuring images from 20 cities.
According to Reuters, officials from the German government have been "critical" of Google's Street View service, and have promised to "scrutinize Google's promise to respect privacy requests by letting people stay out of the project" if they opt-out of the program by October 15.
A Google spokesman told BBC News on Monday that it was "not possible to give an accurate number of opt-outs" received to date, but added that they were not surprised by the figures presented in the Der Spiegel report.
During Monday's meeting, Berlin officials and representatives from Google hope to hammer out a way to protect the privacy of concerned German citizens while not outright banning the Street View service. BBC News correspondent Stephen Evans reports that the government could announce their decision before the end of the day.
"Online mapping and geographical tools are becoming ever more important for citizens, authorities and companies--a trend which is only set to increase through the tremendous growth of the mobile Internet," a Google spokesperson told the British news agency. "Any future legislation must make sure that in addition to the requirements of data protection, the development of innovative business opportunities and modern technology are allowed to flourish."
German authorities, who in May discovered that Google had been mistakenly collecting private information from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks, aren't the only ones taking umbrage to Street View. Investigations regarding the unauthorized collection of data are also going on in France, Australia, and Spain, and the company is also facing both a class action lawsuit and a probe led by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in the United States.
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