The Google Street View car is now making its way around the streets of 20 German cities ahead of the official launch in November. Unlike before though, they are offering residents the chance to opt out - as there is no doubt going to be some odd moments captured on camera.
Following the launch in other cities around the world, countries such as Germany, Korea and Spain have all voice concerns over privacy and data being collected by the cars, which presumably in part has led to this decision.
Google themselves state they are "doing more than is legally required" to protect people’s privacy by allowing anyone to request the removal of their property. Once validated, the building will be blurred out.
What I find interesting is that Google have set a deadline of September 15, 2010, for getting a request submitted. I’m sure there is a valid reason for this, but it seems tight and people will no doubt only become aware of the extent of what Google has caught on camera once it’s gone live!
Another interesting step in this saga sees the German government proactively getting involved and inviting Google and others to discuss privacy and security implications and potential legislations. What makes this more interesting is the viewpoint of the Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, who says:
"There are people who on the one hand tweet about their entire private life ... but on the other hand fight against their (home's) facade being photographed, that is absurd. There need to be regulations on the matter - but we shouldn't become hysterical."
I think first, Herr Maiziere needs to understand the difference between opt in and opt out. People are free to say and share what they like on Twitter and Facebook, whereas, till now, they’ve had no choice as to whether they wish to appear on Street View or not!