Google Street View Privacy Concerns Discussed with Israel

Privacy concerns about Google Street View were aired Feb. 21 in a meeting with officials in Israel.

Google met with officials in Israel Feb. 21 to discuss the company's plans to bring Google Street View to the country, and privacy was on the agenda.

According to an official statement, an Israeli ministerial team headed by Minister Dan Meridor met with Google to discuss "various aspects of Google Street View, which is due to be operated in Israel soon."

"During the discussion, experts presented the implications regarding privacy concerns and public security, as well as the advantages regarding tourism and image," according to the statement. "The ministerial team instructed the experts to work to protect vital public interests regarding this innovative project. It was decided that cooperation with Google would continue in order to operate the service in Israel as soon as possible."

Since Google Street View launched in 2007, it has been at the center of a number of controversies regarding privacy. Last year, Google apologized to authorities in the U.K. after admitting its Street View cars, which patrol city streets to snap images for Google Maps, had also inadvertently swiped 600 gigabytes worth of e-mails, passwords and URLs from encrypted WiFi networks of unsuspecting users.

In Israel, some people have raised concerns that the feature could be abused by terrorists.

"We already have problems with Google Earth, which exposes all kinds of facilities," retired Lt. Col. Mordechai Kedar was quoted as telling the Associated Press.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Google may bring Street View to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa.

"Street View is a popular feature of Google Maps which is already available in 27 countries," a Google spokesperson told eWEEK when asked about the meeting with Israeli officials. "We aim to offer the benefits of street-level imagery to users all around the world, however, we have nothing specific to announce at this time."