Monday, November 22, 2010

Germany's Blurry Street View

Google has finally added street level imagery for some of the biggest cities from Germany: Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich and 16 other cities. Unfortunately, many of the images are blurred because of privacy concerns. According to Spiegel, the launch has been delayed for several years.

In contrast to other countries, the launch of Street View was met with considerable resistance from politicians and privacy protection advocates in Germany, including the country's consumer protection minister, Isle Aigner of the conservative Christian Social Union, who criticized the service as an incursion on people's privacy. (... )
As was widely expected, one doesn't have to look very far in Street View to find homes that have been blurred out. Prior to the introduction of the service, more than 244,000 households in the first 20 cities to be placed online submitted requests to have their homes blurred out. Google claims the figure represents only 3 percent of households. (...)

Nevertheless, there are considerable obstructed images in the German version of Street View. In any instance where an apartment renter asked to have their flat pixilated, Google blurred out the entire building they live in. Data protection authorities believe that up to a million households across the country have been blurred out by the company.

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