Google made their “opt out of street view” service live in Germany today, giving select Germans until September 15th to exclude their properties from being mapped when the Street View service launches. The function will be available for a limited time in the 20 cities that are mentioned which includes Berlin, Dresden and Hamburg and then extend to all cities covered as Google Maps Germany rolls out.
While I’ve contacted Google for analytics on the number of people who have requested building camoflaging, the fact that private citizens can mass opt out of certain Google search functions is unprecedented until now.
Google continues to struggle as they use the “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” approach to privacy and the Internet. Google’s troubles in Germany are not over though but they are hoping that this unprecedented (and freely offered without being forced by the German government) effort will help some people pay less attention to their activities. Not likely.
The German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière is currently proposing a new law that would specifically target Google Street View and issues surrounding privacy. It is actually against the German constitution to enact a law that targets a specific company.
Google is so big on Germany’s radar that they would need to consider a constitutional amendment of sorts to pull of this kind of restriction. Do you get the feeling that Google and Germany just don’t get along?
Apparently it’s not all doom and gloom for Google in Germany though since the German Chancellor is not opting out of the program. Maybe there is some hope for Google in Deutschland after all?