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Nearly a quarter of a million Germans have asked Google to block images of their houses, the US Internet giant said on Thursday as it prepared to launch its Street View service in the country.
Google has already rolled out its navigation service in 20 countries but exceptionally, due to heightened privacy concerns in Germany, has offered to pixel out buildings before the pictures are published online.
“We’re now close to launching Street View imagery for the 20 biggest cities in Germany and we’ve counted the number of households in those cities which decided to opt out,” said Andreas Tuerk, Google’s Germany product manager.
“Out of a total of 8,458,084 households, we received 244,237 opt-outs, which equals 2.89 percent of households,” Tuerk wrote on a blog nearly a week after the October 15 deadline passed.
Google had said in August that it expected tens of thousands of tenants and owners to respond to its offer to blur out pictures of homes, which are taken using specially equipped vehicles deployed throughout the country.
Tuerk, writing on Google’s European Public Policy blog, warned that the process was imperfect and that some homes might still be visible when the service launched in Germany later this year.
“We’ve worked very hard to keep the numbers as low as possible but in any system like this there will be mistakes,” he said.
“In such cases the household can still ask us to blur the image using the ‘report a problem’ tool on Street View once imagery is published — and we’ll do it as fast as we can.
“The same is true of faces and car licence plates that our automatic blurring technology may have missed,” he added.
Although Germans are avid users of Street View images from other countries, the planned roll-out here caused alarm in a country particularly sensitive to privacy concerns due to the gross abuses under the Nazi and communist regimes. – AFP