Privacy watchdog clears Google's Street View

Privacy watchdog clears Google's Street View

Summary: The Information Commissioner's Office has said it is 'satisfied' the search giant is taking adequate steps to protect people's privacy

TOPICS: Networking

Google's Street View mapping system has been given the all clear by the UK's privacy watchdog.

The pictures of streets linked to online maps was attacked by privacy campaigners.

But now the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said it is "satisified" the search giant is taking steps to protect privacy.

Officers from the ICO met with Google and sought reassurances after concerns were raised about the Street View application being intrusive.

Simon Davies, the director of Privacy International, was worried that Google's face-blurring technology did not blur everyone's faces on Street View.

But an ICO spokeswoman said: "We are satisfied that Google is putting in place adequate safeguards to avoid any risk to the privacy or safety of individuals."

The ICO was reassured by the fact that Google was blurring car registrations and faces, was open to removing images on request, and that the pictures were not viewed in real time so could not be used to track individuals.

The spokeswoman said: "Although it is possible that in certain limited circumstances an image may allow the identification of an individual, it is clear that Google are keen to capture images of streets and not individuals."

A spokeswoman for Google welcomed the decision and said Street View would be a boon to the UK.

She said: "We've always said we will not launch in UK until we are comfortable Street View complies with local law and that we will use technology, like face blurring, licence-plate blurring and operational controls. Street View is a valuable tool for people who wish to better understand a location and find information about the places they live and visit."

Topic: Networking


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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  • If you don't want to be seen out, stay at home

    Unless the whole object of raising objections to being seen on the streets is to put a spanner in the works, wouldn't it be a good idea for the complainants simply to stay indoors? Or go out in disguise?
    At least the powers-that-be have seen sense in Google's case.
    Now how about allowing professional and amateur photographers to take pictures of street scenes without being harassed by ill-informed security guards? Certainly no-one can argue about being prevented from photographing security-sensitive areas or children at close range without a parent's permission, but don't let that lead to a blanket banning of cameras in public places.
    Come on MPs: support the 240 who have already signed Austin Mitchell's Early Day Motion to give the right to innocent people to take photographs in public places without being challenged or having their cameras confiscated.