Google responds to Street View privacy concerns

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Google has announced changes to the way it collects images for its Street View service in response to a number of complaints from privacy advocates.

The search firm said the alterations follow ongoing discussions with the Article 29 Working Party, a coalition of European data protection agencies.

"It is important for companies operating services across Europe to be able to follow harmonised data protection guidance, and we are grateful to the Article 29 Working Party for its advice and collaboration on Street View," said Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel for Google, in a blog post.

"They have asked us to make a few additional modifications to address local specificities to ensure that Street View better aligns to local interpretations of privacy requirements across the whole of Europe."

The changes include forewarning the public that Google will be visiting their area to record images for Street View, and the promise that the firm will not keep any "unblurred" images for longer than necessary.

Fleischer explained that 'unblurred' images are used to check for any mistakenly labelled page elements, such as a filtered out car number plate. Fleischer admitted that both of these requirements would cause problems, but said that Google is committed to meeting its privacy promises - with some caveats.

"As you can probably imagine, it can be tricky at times to say exactly where our cars will be and when. We are affected by lots of things outside our control, such as the weather and lighting conditions," he said.

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