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Summary:

European regulators have told Google that it needs to take a number of steps to make its Street View service comply with privacy regulations, including warning people more obviously when they are going to be filmed and shortening the amount of time the images are kept.

European regulators, in the latest chapter of an ongoing privacy battle with Google, have told the company that it needs to warn people when its Street View cameras are going to be filming them, and to shorten the length of time that it keeps the images generated by the service. The Associated Press says it obtained a letter the EU sent to Google informing the company of the need to make these changes, but the search company is apparently resisting.

In response to the EU’s request to inform people about when the Street View car is going to be filming them, Google said it already does this by posting the details on its web site. According to a Dow Jones report, however, the letter specifically said that Google should notify cities and towns by “appropriate announcements in the national, regional and or local press.” The regulatory body also had an issue with the fact that Google keeps unblurred photos from Street View on its servers for 12 months, although only blurred images are available to the public (the search company agreed to blur faces, license plates and other personal items after previous privacy complaints).

In a statement that was seen by Bloomberg News, however, Google lawyer Peter Fleischer responded by saying:

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.

Google has faced repeated opposition to Street View in a number of countries. Last year, Greece blocked the company’s plans to take photos of its streets until it could come up with more privacy safeguards, and Google also recently acceded to demands from the German government that it erase photos of faces, house numbers, license plates and shots of any people who have said they don’t want to appear on the service. Europe has been far more vigilant in taking steps to protect its residents’ privacy from services such as Google’s, although Canada also took steps to get Google to make changes to its service before it was launched last year.

The EU letter also reportedly said that Google should appoint a representative in each European country to ensure that Street View is in compliance with that country’s specific privacy laws. The requests come from the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, a group of regulators composed of representatives from all the EU’s member countries. News of the EU demands comes just days after several senior Google executives were convicted by an Italian court of violating privacy laws by allowing a video to be uploaded that showed a mentally disabled child being tormented by bullies.

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  1. i live in Eu and should say that.. google was like messiah when coming to do some street views, without google earth this place would look like in middle-ages:)

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  3. [...] GIGAOM 本站文章除注明转载外,均为本站原创编译 [...]

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  4. [...] it and then posted it to Google (in the U.S. a judge dismissed a similar privacy suit). Then, European regulators are making changes to what can be allowed with Google’s Street [...]

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  5. [...] it continues to face criticism from European privacy authorities about Street View, that hasn’t stopped Google from adding [...]

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  6. [...] the original, unblurred images be deleted after six months. Currently, Google keeps copies of the originals for one year “to ensure the quality and accuracy of our maps, to improve our ability to rectify [...]

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  7. [...] body made up of privacy regulators from all the member countries recently recommended that Google shorten the amount of time it keeps unblurred photos of people and other identifying items such as license plates and street [...]

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  8. [...] body made up of privacy regulators from all the member countries recently recommended that Google shorten the amount of time it keeps unblurred photos of people and other identifying items such as license plates and street [...]

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  9. [...] countries and from regulators at the European Union itself over privacy issues. Google has been criticized repeatedly for its Street View service, and Italy recently took the unprecedented step of finding three senior [...]

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  10. [...] countries and from regulators at the European Union itself over privacy issues. Google has been criticized repeatedly for its Street View service, and Italy recently took the unprecedented step of finding three senior [...]

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  11. [...] concerns have also dogged Google in Europe, where Street View has come under fire from European Union regulators as well as privacy authorities in a number of countries such as Germany. Some authorities want the [...]

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  12. [...] concerns have also dogged Google in Europe, where Street View has come under fire from European Union regulators as well as privacy authorities in a number of countries such as Germany. Some authorities want the [...]

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  13. [...] hard-nosed on privacy as it applies to services like Facebook and Google’s Street View, which has been criticized for a number of reasons, and faced potential restrictions from European states even before the company admitted that its [...]

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