244,000 Germans log objections to Google’s Street View

Berlin, Oct 21 (DPA) Some 244,237 German households have so far demanded that images of their homes be removed from Google Inc’s Street View geo-data service, the online search giant said Thursday.

The German public has raised strong objections to the introduction of Street View, scheduled for the end of this year, citing privacy concerns. The service provides online photographs of streets and houses connected to Google’s online mapping services.

In a blog entry, Google said the objections amounted to 2.89 percent of all households in Germany’s 20 biggest cities, where Street View is to be introduced.

It was the first time Google had provided the figures since Friday’s initial deadline for objections to be submitted from the affected cities.

The objection rate is significantly lower than the public uproar suggested. An earlier poll by the Bild am Sonntag newspaper had found that 52 percent of Germans were against their homes showing up on Street View.

The consumer protection ministry, whose head Ilse Aigner led a campaign against Google over fears of privacy violation, said this was a ‘high figure,’ which lay within their expectations.

Johannes Casper, data protection officer for Hamburg where Google has its German headquarters, said this trend would amount to ‘more than a million’ complaints if it were replicated nationwide.

Data-protection campaigners argued the service allows unprotected access to information comprising the ‘private sphere’, including homes and gardens.

If a household objects, Google blurs the building’s image on Street View – even if the objection is raised by one household in a multi-apartment building.

Google employed an additional 200 people to handle the objections, by irrevocably altering each of the photos on which a given building is pictured.

Individuals were able to register their objections by post or via an online form on the Google website.

Google Street View generated additional anger in Germany when it emerged that the vans trawling the streets to photograph buildings were accidentally capturing unencrypted wireless (WLAN) internet data.

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