Internet giant Google has been stopped from gathering images in Greek cities for its Street View service until it provides further guarantees about privacy.
Launched in the U.S. two years ago, Street View provides users with access to 3-D “pedestrian’s-eye” views of urban areas by zooming into the lowest level on its Google Maps and Google Earth applications. It has since been rolled out in more than 100 cities in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, Italy, Britain and the Netherlands. The images are obtained from cars specially-fitted with cameras that drive around towns and cities taking panoramic 360 degree shots of everything from pedestrians in the street, to customers sitting in street cafes. Despite pledging to recognize local privacy laws, Google has come under fire from privacy campaigners who fear the application could be abused by criminals or even snooping government agencies. Do you agree Share your thoughts below In April, a group of villagers in a picturesque English village chased away one of the search engine’s camera cars as it attempted to photograph their homes. Fearing the appearance of their well appointed properties on the Web site would attract criminals scouting for burglary targets, villagers in Broughton, north of London, summoned the police after blocking the car.
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A month earlier, the BBC reported that Google was forced to pull a number of images from Street View after receiving complaints about pictures that included a man entering a London sex shop, and a drunken reveler being sick at a bus stop. The search giant has now run into trouble in Greece after being blocked by the country’s privacy watchdog from expanding its service there. The Hellenic Data Protection Authority wants further clarification from Google about how long it will store images for and the measures in place to make people aware of privacy rights. In a statement, a Google spokesperson told CNN: “Street View has not been banned in Greece. We have received a request for further information from the Greek DPA and we are happy to continue discussing these issues with them and provide information they request. “Google takes privacy very seriously, and that’s why we have put in place a number of features, including the blurring of faces and license plates, to ensure that Street View will respect local norms when it launches in Greece. “We believe that launching Street View in Greece will offer enormous benefits to both Greek users and the people elsewhere who are interested in taking a virtual tour of some of its many tourist attractions.”