Google changes Street view to meet privacy obligations

Google has announced changes to how it stores data for its Street View application to come in line with the privacy requirements of different countries.

Google has announced changes to how it stores data for its Street View application to come in line with the privacy requirements of different countries.

Google has been asked by an independent European advisory body on data, known as the Article 29 Working Group, to set a time limit for how long it retains pictures of people. The company blurs people out on StreetView but the originals still reside on its IT infrastructure.

Writing in a blog, Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer said the company will make changes following talks with the Article 29 Working Group.

"We began a dialogue with the Article 29 Working Party, which brings together representatives from all 27 European Data Protection Authorities. In turn, they have asked us to make a few additional modifications to address local specificities to ensure Street View better aligns to local interpretations of privacy requirements across the whole of Europe."

Fleischer said Google originally pre-empted many of the different requirements and concerns and "proactively introduced privacy enhancing technologies, [such as] industry-leading face and licence plate blurring, and made it easy to flag inappropriate images for removal".

The Article 29 Working Party asked Google to set a time limit on how long it keeps the unblurred copies of panoramas from Street View. "This is to balance the use of this data for legitimate purposes with the need to deal with any potential concerns from individuals who might feature incidentally on the Street View imagery," it said.

Google said, "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 their advice and collaboration on Street View."

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