It certainly has not been the best week for Google (NSDQ: GOOG) in Europe: The EC opened a preliminary antitrust inquiry against the company, three of the company’s executives were sentenced to jail terms in Italy — and now the Article 29 Working Party — which represents data protection officials from EU members countries — has notified Google that Google Maps’ Street View is violating European privacy laws. Specifically, according to several reports, the EU is concerned that Google is keeping the original Street View images it takes for too long (The photos are blurred before they are put online).
This isn’t the first time that the Working Party has brought up issues with Street View; last May, it told Google to notify the public before it began to take Street View photos — something that Google said it was committed to doing. Privacy advocates in several European countries have also raised their own concerns about the feature.
Google doesn’t seem willing to bend on keeping the original Street View photos for less time. Here’s the company’s response:
We have done and will continue to engage with the Article 29 Working Party to demonstrate how we protect privacy in Street View and to explain our need to retain the unblurred imagery for a period of one year. The need to retain the unblurred images is legitimate and justified – to ensure the quality and accuracy of our maps, to improve our ability to rectify mistakes in blurring, as well as to use the data we have collected to build better maps products for our users. We have publicly committed to a retention period of 12 months from the date on which images are published on Street View, and this is the period which we will continue to meet globally.