Google bends to German privacy concerns

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 19, 2010 19:16

BERLIN — Google Inc. said Thursday it would double the amount of time Germans have to opt out of having their homes shown in its "Street View" feature, which has sparked a fierce public debate over privacy concerns.

Germans will now have eight weeks, instead of four, to request images of their homes be deleted, Philipp Schindler, Google's vice president for Northern and Central Europe said in a statement.

Google last week announced its plan to introduce "Street View" for the 20 biggest German cities in November, raising concerns in this privacy-conscious country.

"We were aware of the fact that 'Street View' could lead to discussions in Germany," Schindler said.

He stressed that Google has committed itself to an extensive series of measures to protect people's privacy, "far beyond those in other countries."

At authorities' insistence, the company created an online tool Germans can use to request pictures of their homes be removed before the service's launch — something Google hasn't done anywhere else. "Street View" is currently available in 23 countries.

Many officials and politicians pressured the company to extend the deadline for people to opt out.


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