Google StreetView might breach EU laws

By EDRi · May 21, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The European Data Protection Supervisor warned that the StreetView feature
of the Google Maps service could breach the EU data protection laws, if they
show the pictures taken from the European cities.

The StreetView service makes it possible for users of GoogleMaps to see
several photos that show a 360-degree look on how the city streets or
crossings are seen at a street level. But they also get in these pictures
the pedestrians that are passing by or anyone in the area. The service is
available right now only for some US cities, but Google has started the
activities in order to get pictures from some European cities. Their fleet
of vans with cameras has been spotted in London, Rome or Paris.

The European Data Protection Supervisor, Peter Hustinx, declared during the
press presentation of his annual data protection report:

“I would encourage Google to think about how to do this. Making pictures on
the street is in many cases not a problem, but making pictures everywhere is
certainly going to create some problems. I’m quite sure they are aware of

Google didn’t announced when the StreetView feature will be available for
the European cities, but the service is expected to be launched next year.

Hustinx warned the company that “Complying with European data protection
law is going to be part of their business success or failure. If they would
ignore it, it is likely to lead to (court) cases, and I think they would be
hit hard.”

But Google was already taking into consideration the privacy concerns and
announced that they developed a new face-blurring technology that would be
perfected in the future. In a blog post on Google Earth and Maps teams, they
presented the new change:

“We’re also taking this opportunity to test our new face-blurring technology
on the busy streets of Manhattan. This effort has been a year in the
making — working at Street View-scale is a tough challenge that required us
to advance state-of-the-art automatic face detection, and we continue
working hard to improve it as we roll it out for our existing and future

Google also announced that they would delete the images from StreetView if
someone complained and they think that these two actions should respond to
some of the privacy problems already highlighted.

Street View revisits Manhattan (12.05.2008)

Google blurs the privacy issue (13.05.2008)

Google map service could face EU lawsuits (16.05.2008)