Google Says 3% of German Households to Block Street View
Google Oct. 21 said less than 3 percent of German households have opted out of allowing Google Street View to collect images of their homes.
Google's Street View service, which provides real-life images of streets all over the world, caused a stir in May when the company admitted the cars it uses to collect the images had accidentally collected 600GB of user data from WiFi networks.
The company has ceased collecting WiFi data entirely via Street View vehicles, and countries all over the world are pressing Google for more information.
Google alarmed German privacy officials in August with the news that it would launch Street View in 20 German cities in 2010.
Google, which offered to let German home and real estate owners ask that their properties be shielded from view since April 2009, set up an online tool with which people can request that Google remove images of their homes before they are published online.
Google said it received 244,327 opt-outs out of 8,458,084 households, or about 2.89 percent. Two out of three opt-outs were executed online.
However, not every household that asked to be blurred will be shielded at launch, warned Andreas Turk, product manager for Street View in Germany.
"Given how complex the process is, there will be some houses that people asked us to blur that will be visible when we launch the imagery in a few weeks time," Turk said. "We've worked very hard to keep the numbers as low as possible but in any system like this there will be mistakes."
Turk noted that while some people asked Google to blur their house, they didn't provide Google with a precise address.
These households can still ask Google to blur the images using the "report a problem" tool on Street View once imagery is published.
Meanwhile, Street View in Germany may get a curve ball later in 2010.
Germany Interior Minister Thomas de Maizi???re said the government will introduce a new privacy code in December, inviting Google and other Internet companies to submit suggestions for self-regulation before then.
Street View has had a harrying week. Canadian privacy officials said Google's data collection in Canada violated privacy law, albeit unintentionally.
The country is now pursuing legal action against Google in the matter.