Google's Street View puts German cities online

10:19, November 19, 2010      

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The U.S. Internet giant Google officially put its virtual landscapes of 20 German major cities online on Thursday, a big step of its "Street View program," after two years of facing public doubts on privacy.

Internet users can now appropriate three-dimension photographic street views of major German resorts and cities, such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

However, some of the images, including houses, faces and car plates, have been blurred beyond recognition, according to requests of those who didn't want their properties to show on the Internet.

Google said it has received 244,000 objections from German families, which required obscuring their private goods in the Street View, accounting for some three percent of the total homes put online.

Google started the digital mapping program in the United States in 2007, and promoted it in other 26 countries afterwards.

When coming to Germany, it encountered unexpectedly strong resistance from the German public and officials over concerns that the mapping would violate privacy. German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner even launched a campaign against the project.

After two years of negotiation with data privacy authority, Google compromised with a unique solution -- Germans could ask for blurring their privacies before and after these maps were made public, through mail or simply filling in an online form.

Philipp Schindler, chief of Google's European office said Thursday at a news conference in Hamburg that some 200 trained employees are dealing with the objections at the moment.

Google made greater concessions in Germany than in any other country as to the project, but all efforts are worthwhile, Schindler said.

"We know that Street View is an extremely useful product," he said. "Even Germans know that, as they are among the most frequent users of the Street View worldwide."

Source: Xinhua


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