Google Street View a Redo in Japan

Google plans to reshoot images of Japan for its Street View service, in response to privacy concerns from local citizens. Other localities around the world have voiced similar complaints about Street View in the past. Despite potential antitrust and privacy issues, Google has continued to refine its products while issuing new ones, including Google Search Options and Google Squared, both of which allow for a more granular online search.

Google plans to reshoot all images of Japan for its Street View service, an offshoot of Google Maps that allows users to navigate a location at eye-level, after complaints that the original photos violated the collective privacy.

The new images, to be taken at some unannounced future point, will incorporate lower camera angles. Google collects images for Street View via special camera-equipped vehicles

Yoshito Funabashi, a spokesperson in Google's Tokyo office, told Reuters that there had been "concerns" and that "We thought of what we can do as a company and tried to be responsible."

This is not the first time that Google's Street View application has met resistance from the locals.

In April, the tiny English village of Broughton decided to prevent a Google Street View car from taking 360-degree photos of their quaint little hamlet, forming a human chain to block the vehicle's progress.

Those villagers, already on the lookout for "suspicious activity" after a string of local robberies, felt the car represented an invasion of privacy.

Google's data-collecting services also drew criticism with regard to its interest-based advertising, a variant of "behavioral targeting" that delivers ads to users based on their previous searches and page views; Google responded to these complaints by noting that users have granular control over what information the ad system can draw upon.

Even as it tinkers with products in response to the public, Google continues to introduce new applications into the marketplace at a steady clip.

On May 12, Google rolled out several new products at its annual Searchology event, including Google Search Options, which gives the user a variety of tools for refining their search. Another application, Google Squared, presents search data in a tabular format.

Google's substantial lead in the search-engine arena, with a reported 63.7 percent market share, and its growing presence in digital libraries and other venues has led to antitrust rumblings from consumer watchdog groups. Google recently launched a campaign among media, think-tanks and legislatures to convince them that the company is dedicated to openness and competition.

Microsoft and Yahoo, in a bid to eat into at least some of Google's market share, have been in possible talks over a search and/or advertising deal. Both Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer have refused to confirm the oft-rumored discussions.