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Friday, 26th February 2010

EU Warns Google About Street View Privacy

From The Telegraph (UK):

Google has been told by European Union data privacy regulators to warn people before it sends cameras out to take pictures for its Street View maps.

The online search giant should shorten the length of time for which it keeps the uncensored photographs it takes from one year to six months, the regulators also said in a letter to the company.

Google said its need to retain the original Street View images for a full year is “legitimate and justified” in a statement.

The company said it already posts notifications on its website about where its cameras are being sent. The alert function indicated yesterday that Google's picture-taking vehicles had been cruising the streets of Cagiliari in Italy, Nantes in France and possibly other nearby cities.

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

It must avoid taking pictures "of a sensitive nature and those containing intimate details not normally observable by a passer-by," Turk said in the message to Peter Fleischer.

He added that the company should revise its "disproportionate" policy of keeping the original unblurred images for up to a year, saying improvements in Google's blurring technology and better public awareness would lead to fewer complaints and a shorter delay for people to react to the photos they see on the site.

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