The Tech Herald

Google announces Street View retreat in Germany

by Steven Mostyn - Apr 11 2011, 16:28

Parked for good in Germany. Image: See Modern Britain/Flickr.

Having only last week seen its contentious Street View service slapped down in Switzerland, search titan Google has now decided to abandon the German version of the interactive mapping tool.

That’s according to online blog Search Engine Land, which reports that Germany’s existing Street View content will remain accessible to users but will receive no further updates as Google’s iconic camera cars depart the country.

Google’s decision to yank its vehicles may be viewed as somewhat odd, not least because the Berlin State Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the search giant after a German woman challenged Street View for invading her privacy and that of her family.

However, the Germans have been fairly resistant to the appearance of Street View’s camera cars, with almost 250,000 residents and businesses having taken advantage of an opt-out clause presented by Google—which results in entire locations being blurred from view via the online service.

Although Google has not offered any official comment regarding its decision, a representative told Search Engine Land that the company’s priorities have changed. 

Last week, a court in Switzerland ruled that Google’s automatic anonymity software, which blurs faces and vehicle number plates, is not sufficient to protect the privacy of Swiss citizens.

In announcing its decision, the court said Google must work to increase privacy protection by having staff manually seek out and blur any such easily identifiable features.

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