Italy To Enforce Google Street View Restrictions

The controversy surrounding Google’s Street View mapping program continued on Monday, as privacy officials in Italy announced that they would enforce restrictions on the service.

“There has been strong alarm and also hostility in a lot of European countries against Google taking photos. We have received protests even from local administrations,” Privacy Authority President Francesco Pizzetti told Italian newspaper La Stampa, according to Reuters.

In response to those privacy concerns, Pizetti has declared that Google’s Street View information collecting vehicles must be clearly marked, carrying signs and/or stickers that indicate that they will be taking photographs for the online mapping service.

Furthermore, the California-based technology company must publish the names of the locations they intend to snap pictures of on their website at least three days in advance, and they must also share said information in at least a pair of local newspapers and a radio station in order to give residents the option to avoid the area being photographed.

Violations of the policy could result in fines of more than $250,000, AFP reports.

The announcement comes following a blog post written by Alan Eustace, Google’s Senior VP of Engineering & Research last Friday, in which he admitted that that analysis of the data collected by the Street View vehicles showed that most of it was “fragmentary,” but that “in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords.”

“We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and I would like to apologize again for the fact that we collected it in the first place,” Eustace added. “We are mortified by what happened, but confident that these changes to our processes and structure will significantly improve our internal privacy and security practices for the benefit of all our users.”

While the Google mapping program is currently available in 20 different countries, it has been banned in the Czech Republic. In Germany, the service was only permitted after Google was forced to allow homeowners to opt out, having their houses and businesses blurred in the online images.

Last week, a lawsuit was filed against Google by Spanish data protection officials for “allegedly capturing other data from Internet users when it collected images for Street View,” according to Reuters. Officials in France and Canada have also probed the issue, and now watchdogs in the UK are considering launching a new investigation into the service, BBC News reported on Sunday.

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