Google keeping unblurred images for a year

Thu 8 October 2009 15:00, Bas van den Beld

Google keeping unblurred images for a year

When Google was challenged by the Swiss authorities to blur their images better they agreed pretty fast. This was all because Google knows they shouldn't get into to much trouble with European legislation at the moment because other things are more important.

Google decided to blur the images more. But there still remains an open question on what Google is doing with the images before they are blurred an put up to Streetview. Google now answered that question by making some changes to the Streetview policies.

In a post about European Street View issues the Google Europe policy team addressed this issue saying they keep the urn-blurred images in their database so they can "build better products, for example by constantly improving our blurring technology so that it obscures more of the things it should and less of the things it shouldn't."

Images in Streetview are not just used for making the service interesting, its also used to keep it up-to-date and accurate. An image of a street sign for example is used as an extra check for the streetname on Google Maps.

Google also announced that starting immediately they will blur images on their internal database within one year of their publication and with that deleting the non-blurred version.

Peter Fleisher, Google's Global Privacy Counsel:

"We think one year strikes a reasonable balance between protecting people's privacy and our ability to reduce mistakes in blurring, as well as use the data we have collected to build better maps products. It's important to remember that European privacy laws allow for the retention of data, so long as it is for reasonable periods of time and the information itself is actually being used. "

If you do however make a special removal request, even if the image is blurred already, Google will delete these images as soon as possible.

Finally Google announced it will be "revamping" websites in countries where Streetview is already running. The sites will have more information about the product.

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