The German government has insisted that its citizens get the chance to make requests to have images of their homes blurred out of Google’s Street View service as a condition of letting the company operate the service.
It said personal privacy would be violated if people did not have the choice to opt out.
Meanwhile Canada’s privacy commissioner ruled this week that the company broke its privacy laws and urged Google to delete the information it had collected.
Since April last year, German home-owners and tenants have had the opportunity to write to Google to tell it to blur images of where they live. In August this year, Google Germany added an online tool through which these requests could be made.
However, the window to make requests has now closed. Google Germany said it had received 244,237 requests from people to have their homes and property obscured on Street View.
Google said it was not yet clear whether all the requests to blur images could be carried out.
In a recent blog post, Google Germany’s Street View product manager, Andreas Turk, said: “In some cases for example the addresses could not be clearly assigned because the specifications were not legible or the descriptions of buildings were not precise enough.”
Google’s collection of personal data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks earlier this year had initially been uncovered in Germany, following requests from the Hamburg information commissioner. Following this, several other countries uncovered the problem, including Australia.
In July, Google was forced to issue a public apology to Australians on its website after it admitted its Wi-Fi collection of personal data through its Street View operation was a mistake.
It then came under fire from a 38-strong US coalition investigation on whether it broke US law in collecting personal data in the US.
Street View also hit problems in many other countries. Canada’s privacy commissioner said last week, that Google’s accidental gathering of personal data while snapping images amounted to a “serious violation” of its privacy laws.
In September, the Czech government banned Google from taking any new photos for the service and in August, authorities in South Korea raided Google’s offices prior to the switch-on of a version for the nation.