Posted June 19, 2009 5:47 am by with 2 comments

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Google Maps jpegGoogle has taken a serious step in Deutschland regarding how much data they keep for their Street View service. This offering has been the target of privacy groups and angry villagers for quite some time now but Google looks like it is giving back some power to the people. Of course, having the German government involved likely ‘influenced’ their decision.

Mashable brings Google’s new policy into focus;

You might be wondering what’s new here; after all, Google (Google) has been blurring Street View imagery containing potentially sensitive data like faces and license plates, on request, for quite a while now.

However, in Germany, there will be a crucial difference, because over there Google has agreed to completely erase such data internally. AP writes:

“Google had agreed to erase the raw footage of faces, house numbers, license plates and individuals in Germany who have told authorities they do not want their information used in the service.”

This policy goes well beyond Google’s already existing policy to blur out faces, license plates and any other sensitive information that their Street View photo may provide upon request. The difference in this new German policy is that by erasing the raw footage of the image used in the service, Google is now left without information for statistical analysis. Another important aspect is that this original footage will not be available for a court order if requested.

Of course, this is done by Google upon request only so those who are in the know in the Internet industry are the most likely to take them up on the offer anyway. The rest of the world usually moves blissfully along using Google’s search engine and never really taking the time to stop and smell the potential privacy issues that Google may be broaching with many of their offerings.

Will this type of policy be adopted in other countries as well? It is likely to depend on the legal climate of each, which until now, has been satisfied with the blurring of images in most cases. If you had the chance would you request that Google take the raw footage of your Street View presence out of their system? Is this something that you are concerned about or have never really even thought about until now?