Google's controversial Street View service has been shuttered in the Czech Republic and has sparked privacy changes in Germany.
A feature of Google Maps, Street View provides photos of city streets taken by cars strapped with cameras and computers. The photos are stored on Google's servers.
Street View has faced privacy questions almost since its inception in 2007, but concerns came to a head in May when the company admitted its cars accidentally collected more than 600 gigabytes of computer user data from sniffing WiFi networks.
This caused great consternation among the 33 regions where Street View is currently available. U.S. state attorneys general are investigating the search engine's actions.
Data protection authorities in the Czech Republic, where more than 10 million people live, said Sept 22 they banned Google from collecting data for its Street View service because its cameras are set too high.
"From our point of view it would be correct if the cameras were lower," the office's Chairman Igor Nemec told the AFP and other reporters. Nemec received dozens of complaints from citizens.
Nemec and his office also argued Google should distinguish between cities and villages, where it does not make sense to collect detailed information for tourists.
Google appealed the decision, telling eWEEK:
"We're disappointed with these comments as we believe Street View is legal in Czech Republic. We have in place robust procedures to protect privacy, such as face and number plate blurring and a removals tool. We'll continue to engage in dialogue with the DPA to answer any other questions they have."
Google is facing increased resistance to Street View. Switzerland sued Google over Street View last November, but the so-called WiSpy incident has padded the consensus that the service poses serious privacy threats.
Australia, Italy and Spain are all investigating Google for possible illegal data collection. Police stormed Google's South Korean offices to see whether Google illegally collected private information as it prepared to launch Street View there.
The search engine is also facing a lot of adversity over the service in Germany, known for its stringent privacy laws.
Google said in August it would launch its Street View service in 20 German cities this year, with some concessions to privacy authorities in that country.
Google offered to let home and real estate owners ask that their properties be shielded from view. Germany argued that its citizens needed more time, and Google extended its offer to eight weeks total.
Now Germany Interior Minister Thomas de Maizi???re said the government will introduce new privacy code in December, inviting Google and other Internet firms to submit suggestions for self-regulation before then.