Search company to introduce more controls and abide by data protection laws
Google is to make changes to the way it collects and stores images for its Street View service following talks with European data protection authorities.
The company said that it would do its best to forewarn people when it will be visiting their area to take images and in the long term it would only keep the blurred images.
It said it did need to keep original unblurred images to rectify any mistakes but would work with the Article 29 Working Party, a coalition of EU data protection agencies, to determine the shortest retention period.
Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel said: "They have asked us to make a few additional modifications… to ensure that Street View better aligns to local interpretations of privacy requirements across the whole of Europe.
Street View was first introduced to the UK in March. The application available through Google Maps, provides a photographic 360-degree view of streets in towns and cities across various countries.
Although Google uses automated software to obscure details such as faces and number plates, some people were clearly identifiable. After complaints about privacy violation, Google removed their images.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) also received objections from Privacy International but rejected these. The privacy watchdog said that the application does not constitute a threat to personal privacy; comparing it to televised football matches when people can be caught on camera.
Mr Fleischer said the proposed changes would be “tricky” to implement; especially informing residents when Google would be sending its cars out because of certain variables such as weather conditions.
But the company said it was committed to abiding by individual countries’ data protection laws.
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