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Google Street View Passes UK Privacy Inspection

imageThe UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has ruled it would be “disproportionate” to outlaw Google’s Street View 360-degree map service because of the small risks it poses to people’s privacy. In a statement released Thursday, responding to a complaint from Privacy International, the ICO says Street View “is very unlikely to formally breach the Data Protection Act”. The ICO does however insist that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) blurs people’s faces and car number plates and says it will be checking that it responds to request to delete images quickly.

Privacy International’s director Simon Davies said Street View had caused distress and embarrassment and was a clear breach of the DPA. But in response the ICO’s senior data protection manager David Evans writes: “Watch the TV news any day this week and you will see people walking past reporters in the street… without their consent, but perfectly legally.” He continues: “Google Street View does not contravene the Data Protection Act and, in any case, it is not in the public interest to turn the digital clock back. In a world where many people tweet, facebook and blog it is important to take a common sense approach towards Street View and the relatively limited privacy intrusion it may cause.”

Perhaps the outrage British privacy campaigners feel about this isn’t shared all that widely across the country, despite isolated acts of defiance. Out-law.com reports that just 74 people have complained about the service since its UK launch on March 19. In a country of 60 million, that’s not exactly a mandate for the idea that Google is illegally invading privacy.