For some time, Google has had problems with the European Union‘s privacy regulators in connection with the company’s “street view” service. For those of you unfamiliar with it, “street view” is Google’s service that provides 360° horizontal and 290° vertical panoramic views from a row of positions along the street (one every approximately 10 or 20 metres) for many streets in the world, from a height of about 2.5 metres. “Street view” is part of Google Earth.
According to an article from Gigaom.com, the EU would like Google to shorten the length of time that it keeps close-up images of people, license plates, and addresses. Currently, Google keeps such information for one year before the information is discarded, according to the company. However, users of the “street view” service do not see such information; instead, users are shown a blurred image of such information. The EU would like Google to shorten the length of time from one year to 6 months.
In response to this request, a Google spokesperson who was instrumental in developing the Google Earth service stated that having to update the images every 6 months would cause the company to reconsider whether it was worth its investment of time and money. In other words, if the EU persists, Google may drop the EU from its “street view” service. You can link to the full interview with the Google spokesperson here.