Google Street View Comes to Antarctica, Brazil, Ireland

Google adds Street View footage in Antarctica, Brazil and Ireland, which means it now collects content across all seven continents. Concerns about Street View's impact on user privacy remain.

Google Sept. 30 said it has added imagery for its Street View technology across all seven continents, adding footage in Antarctica, Brazil and Ireland.

Google Street View is a controversial feature of Google Maps that provides 360-degree panoramic images of streets and terrain all over the world. The idea is to make people feel as if they are at the location pictured in person.

To do this, Google sends cars strapped with cameras to collect the pictures, storing them on company servers.

The service, used by millions of people to check out neighborhoods, locations and landmarks before visiting them, is maligned by several countries whose privacy authorities claim the technology invades citizens' privacy.

Even so, Google has a business to run, and the value of Google Maps lies in expanding its coverage. That includes building up content for Street View, as Brian McClendon, vice president of engineering for Google Earth and Maps, noted:

"You can now see images from around the world spanning from the beaches of Brazil, to the moors of Ireland, to the icy terrain in Antarctica."

By example, Google offers these images of beaches in Copacabana, Brazil, of the Ring of Kerry in Ireland and of chinstrap penguins in Half Moon Island, Antarctica.

While the images are useful in keeping users searching Google, the service inadvertently proved to be a bit too data hungry.

Concerns about Street View boiled over in May when the search engine admitted it had collected some 600 gigabytes of peoples' data via WiFi networks in more than 33 countries.

Attorneys general for more than 30 states in the United States are looking into the matter. The Czech Republic banned Street View outright, while Germany is mulling stricter data privacy laws to shield people from Street View.

Google is working with countries whose data it grabbed to resolve the situation-by deleting or giving the data back-but Street View's expansion continues.

Indeed, despite concerns and efforts to slow its roll in Germany, Google said it plans to launch its Street View service in 20 German cities this year.