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Google warned over Street View in Europe

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Google warned over Street View in Europe
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Google warned over Street View in Europe

BRUSSELS: European Union data privacy regulators are telling Google to warn people before it sends cameras out into cities to take pictures for its Street View maps, adding to the company's legal worries in Europe.

Regulators also said in a letter to the company that Google should shorten the time it keeps the original photos from one year to six months. Google was not available for comment.

Street View was launched in the US in 2007 and now adds photos of street scenes to Google's maps of about 100 cities worldwide. To soothe privacy concerns, it uses software to blur pictures of faces and car number plates.

Google has been slow to begin the service in Europe after governments raised concerns that taking pictures of people in public places could break some EU rules on privacy.

Greece told the company last year to halt plans to snap the nation's streets until more privacy safeguards are provided and in April, residents of one English village formed a human chain to stop a camera van.

Google has also bowed to German demands to erase the raw footage of faces, house numbers, number plates and people who have told authorities they do not want their information used in the service.

The EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, said Europe had ''high standards for data protection'' and that she expected that ''all companies play according to the rules of the game''.

The head of EU data protection agencies, Alex Turk, told Google's data privacy chief, Peter Fleischer, in a letter dated February 11, that the company should always give notice on its website and in the local or national press before it takes pictures.

It should take care to avoid taking pictures ''of a sensitive nature and those containing intimate details not normally observable by a passer-by'', Mr Turk said.


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