EU says Google must remove Street View images after 6 months

The European Union (EU) has issued a devastating blow to Google saying that they must delete unblurred Street View images after 6 months ; Google’s policy had been that it deletes or updates the photos every 12 months.

According to computerworld.com,“Google holds Street View images for a year but the EU's Article 29 Data Protection Working Party has said the search engine must cut this in half, as 12 months is a ‘disproportionate’ length of time.”

The EU cites concerns about data privacy and that Google needs to be more open about when its vehicles, with cameras attached, would be driving through areas so that citizens could take actions they felt necessary to protect their identities or property.  While Google does have the ability to opt out of being shown on Street View, the EU states that not many people know about it. 

Although if Google does start posting when Street View vehicles will be in certain areas, we can expect a lot more SCUBA divers to chase the vehicle.

As the EU will begin to enforce the stricter policy of Street View images, Google will be forced to either hire more drivers, or no longer cover certain areas as their deadlines for capturing new images has been cut in half. 

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125 Comments

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Why dont they just do an OPT IN policy, instead of intruding on people's privacy, that way they can be 100% sure they have permission to do it, this whole you didnt say no policy is just junk, wait till you get a YES you can do it policy.

A whole lot of people seem to not realize that this is about the original Unprosessed images that google hold for them selves, the blurred images we see online are unaffected. This is all about what identifiable data google are allowed to keep, and for how long. This should not be an issue for google (Why would they need the unblurred images?) and it won't be even remotely noticable for us.

I say this is practically non-news...

Whole news is just wrong.. Nobody has said anything about re-doing whole streetview in every 6 months.. c'mon. It just the time when google has to remove original _unblurred_ version that they have. Do you really thing that google drives every street yearly now?

We should all stop moaning and lodge a complaint with the EU Ombudsman explaining that this is not beneficial to European Countries and the MEP's are not acting in our interest passing laws like this.

http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu

The EU complaining about privacy? How many cameras are mounted all over the streets watching you in the UK? Theres no privacy. How is it your privacy if people take pictures from the street?

The solution is very simple. Street view will be available for the either the first or the last 6 months of the year.

sweetsam said,
The solution is very simple. Street view will be available for the either the first or the last 6 months of the year.
AGAIN, this is the unblurred imagery, not the censored versions you see online.


I'm sorry, but the irresponsible manner in which several outlets have reported this news is getting seriously annoying now.

Edited by Kirkburn, Feb 27 2010, 3:41pm :

I haven't heard many arguments against the European Union that aren't based on exaggerated fears and misinformation.

On the face of it though, this decision seems somewhat excessive. Would be interesting to read the judgement

I trust Google far more than I trust either the EU or the UK government in terms of privacy and having our best interest's at heart.....

maybe they should be looking closer to home, that unelected, non democratic union that is the EU! I'm in the UK, when was I asked - NEVER! jesus!

duddut2 said,
I trust Google far more than I trust either the EU or the UK government in terms of privacy and having our best interest's at heart.....

maybe they should be looking closer to home, that unelected, non democratic union that is the EU! I'm in the UK, when was I asked - NEVER! jesus!

You vote for MEPs. Just like you vote for MPs. You don't vote for the civil service.

And trusting a profit-seeking business over a government? That's just foolish.

Kirkburn said,
You vote for MEPs. Just like you vote for MPs. You don't vote for the civil service.

And trusting a profit-seeking business over a government? That's just foolish.

You don't vote for the European Commission/Council, though. That's where the real power in the EU lies.

Hell, not all of the duly elected MEPs are even allowed to sit in the European Parliament at the moment!

Edited by M2Ys4U, Feb 27 2010, 3:56pm :

Once again, this is about the unblurred imagery.

This is a privacy concern because Google having an unblurred photo that shows where various people are for long periods of time isn't justified. For example, say you happen to be walking past a sex shop - you may be blurred out on the online version, but Google have the unblurred version where you are personally identifiable. I think it's fair to say Google doesn't need to keep that for long periods of time.

Is not having your 'street view' photo taken every six months more of a privacy invasion than having it done every 12 or more? If the data was deleted and had to be recaptured every day that would be extreme - but once every 5 years? Fine. So why is six months - more accurate, up-to-date, more invasive - better than 12 months?

dancedar said,
Is not having your 'street view' photo taken every six months more of a privacy invasion than having it done every 12 or more? If the data was deleted and had to be recaptured every day that would be extreme - but once every 5 years? Fine. So why is six months - more accurate, up-to-date, more invasive - better than 12 months?

Google can leave the images on-line to my understanding... just not keep their original non blurred images on their servers after 6 months.

Overpaid useless bored money sucking leeches in brussels with nothing better to do than invent idiot rules to justify their pathetic overpaid jobs. I guess aerial photography will have to be banned along with CCTV and all cameras (just in case you happen to take a photo of your grandma in front of someones house). If there was ever an example of how overbearing and brainless a body of people can be, look no further than the european parliament and its hangers on.

Hmm I dont see the big privacy or security concern over some pictures taken next to the street. You know they say the average person is on camera how many x's a day, the only difference is you dont know about it. Also your home probably already has pictures taken of it available free online and with much more detail.

XerXis said,

you have to be american to say something stupid like that

You have to be ignorant to make blanket statements like that.

Wait, I'm sure Street View's been launched in the UK for over 12 months now and I'm yet to see any updates. Or am I misunderstanding something here?

This coming from the place that has cameras on every corner...

Wouldn't it make more sense to have out of date photos than more recent photos if they're worried about privacy? Not to mention that anyone can tell Google they want their windows blocked out in the pictures or whatever.

None of this makes any sense...

HIGHLY important word missing from the story.

This is about the UNBLURRED imagery, not the images you see online.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10460355-93.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20

Someone should write a petition to the European Parliment
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/public/staticDisplay.do?language=EN&id=49&pageRank=1

Then post it online and we will all send it
I would have written one myself, but I suck at these thing, best leave it to the experts :)

Raa said,
And DOES one opt out of being shown on Google Streets?

By brute force. a few years ago people living in a town stopped the van driving through, people don't like being left open to risk, why should they when they get nothing for it.

street view of town centres is one thing, homes is quite another, its nice to look at but I can understand their concerns.

Once again the EU being over-protective and over-reactionary because of.... one little **** in the corner having a bitch fit.

/yawn

I wonder how this is justified, most would argue that the images become less valuable and relevant after a longer period of time. Why does the EU regulate this in this manor? If anything the EU will be forcing Google to create more up to date imaging and thus cause more threats to security/privacy concerns then keeping out of date information on the site.

xendrome said,
I wonder how this is justified, most would argue that the images become less valuable and relevant after a longer period of time. Why does the EU regulate this in this manor? If anything the EU will be forcing Google to create more up to date imaging and thus cause more threats to security/privacy concerns then keeping out of date information on the site.

That's a really good point.

Its partly loyalty to Google, and fear that this may affect the service they offer, but another part of it is an anti EU sentiment - which being from the UK, I can very well understand.

Surely local advertisements "The Google Map Van is coming on such and such a date", would be sufficient. And if this is about competition, then the EU should use some of those billions we pay them, to fund EU companies so they can compete.

So Google now also needs to drive around at least every 6 months, giving them more opportunities to catch you doing stupid on your lawn and mess up on censoring it, or they must remove it and make it a less useful service.

Nice job EU.

pickypg said,
So Google now also needs to drive around at least every 6 months, giving them more opportunities to catch you doing stupid on your lawn and mess up on censoring it, or they must remove it and make it a less useful service.

Nice job EU.

No, see truespursfan's comment above.

I'm seeing mixed information, Is this all Street View pictures or just the original, unblurred ones.? PC World seems to think the latter.

"The new challenge from the EU relates to warning communities before the Google Street View-mobile rolls into town, and the length of time Google retains the unblurred, original images in its own database. The EU has asked that Google do more than simply post its image-capturing schedule online, and that it purge the original images after six months."

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/190279/google_street_view_raises_privacy_concernsagain.html

truespursfan said,
I'm seeing mixed information, Is this all Street View pictures or just the original, unblurred ones.? PC World seems to think the latter.
Wow, that makes a hell of a difference.

Kirkburn said,
Wow, that makes a hell of a difference.

Sarcasm I guess? actually yes it does, everyone is going about them having go around twice a year, the EU haven't actually said that they need to remove blurred pictures from Street View just the 'original' blurred ones.

CNET seems to think the same. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10460355-93.html

It even says so in Google's statement.

Edited by truespursfan, Feb 26 2010, 10:18pm :

truespursfan said,
Sarcasm I guess?
Nah, wasn't sarcasm. It really does make a huge difference to the meaning of the story.

Edited by Kirkburn, Feb 26 2010, 11:09pm :

Kirkburn said,
Nah, wasn't sarcasm. It really does make a huge difference to the meaning of the story.

Ok then I apologise, I shouldn't jump to conclusions I think they should update the article.

Edited by truespursfan, Feb 27 2010, 12:42am :

12 months? Does that apply to the US also? I thought it would be really cool if Google kept an archive of all of its images so you could see how the places change over time. It's too bad that governments and idiot car chasers want to ruin it. :(

Chugworth said,
12 months? Does that apply to the US also? I thought it would be really cool if Google kept an archive of all of its images so you could see how the places change over time. It's too bad that governments and idiot car chasers want to ruin it. :(

I don't imagine the EU (European Union) can make US law... :-\

Wow, such immediate hatred of the EU for what ... enforcing data protection guidelines? Why people feel so much emotional attachment to companies I don't know ... it was already 12 months, this just halves it. Yes, Google will have to spend more money on Street View. Oh no!

Kirkburn said,
Wow, such immediate hatred of the EU for what ... enforcing data protection guidelines? Why people feel so much emotional attachment to companies I don't know ... it was already 12 months, this just halves it. Yes, Google will have to spend more money on Street View. Oh no!

Because its google. Their blind following, even when it comes to privacy matters seems to fall on deaf ears, since they offer "cool" tech solutions.

Agreed. You'd think these people either owned or founded Google.

Blasius said,

Because its google. Their blind following, even when it comes to privacy matters seems to fall on deaf ears, since they offer "cool" tech solutions.

Yea it is an interesting world we live in now. People will die for corporations, but won't lift a finder to protect human rights around the world. Really crazy. Hell we can't even get the same muster in solving domestic political challenges.

Kirkburn said,
Wow, such immediate hatred of the EU for what ... enforcing data protection guidelines? Why people feel so much emotional attachment to companies I don't know ... it was already 12 months, this just halves it. Yes, Google will have to spend more money on Street View. Oh no!

These are images taken in *public*. Should all amateur photographers delete photos taken in public after 6 months?

M2Ys4U said,

These are images taken in *public*. Should all amateur photographers delete photos taken in public after 6 months?
No. They aren't businesses, and aren't taking a comprehensive survey of the world's streets.

Kirkburn said,
No. They aren't businesses, and aren't taking a comprehensive survey of the world's streets.

Ok, so should Flickr delete photos? They're a business?

It doesn't make sense for the same law to apply to one group of people and not others.

M2Ys4U said,

Ok, so should Flickr delete photos? They're a business?

It doesn't make sense for the same law to apply to one group of people and not others.

Flickr isn't taking the photos.

I don't profess to know the law or guidelines intimately, but they are not the same situation.

thealexweb said,
This is good news, more relevant and up to date images :)

lol to update each 6 months cost too much for return, they need 1,000 plus cars.

stevember said,

lol to update each 6 months cost too much for return, they need 1,000 plus cars.

Where did you get that from?

acnpt said,

Where did you get that from?

Vague estimates probably, and anyway Google defiantly won't just not offer the service in Europe, Europe probably gives more revenue to Google than America.

thealexweb said,

Vague estimates probably, and anyway Google defiantly won't just not offer the service in Europe, Europe probably gives more revenue to Google than America.

And where did you get that from?

I live in South East of France, and the Google Street View pictures just went online a couple of months ago, almost a year or even more after other French cities. So I guess covering our roads must take some time... (Don't know how much though.)
Anyway, I like this service a lot, and as others said, it is again a completely crazy and stupid ruling against a FREE American product (like Media Player). Nonesense !!!
So Google allows the paranoid people to remove something from a pic, and now these will have to do it even more often thanks to the EU. They are biting themselves. Mother......s!!!

The EU really need to get its priorities right!
These photos are all taken from public roads! Imagine having your photos of monuments/buildings/etc... made illegal after 6 months because of privacy regulations.
And who thought of 6 months anyway? Soon they will change it to 1 week.
I think we will be saying bye bye to streetview in Europe unless the EU changes its mind...

No problem. Just dont do street view there. Period. And when complaint calls come in on why Street View doesnt work on any android phone, forward them to the EU office to answer. Let the lawmakers take the heat on the phone and at the polls in the end.

More companies need to stop taking crap like this. Like when the EU decided to sue Microsoft. Mircosoft should have said, fine EU. We will withdraw all sales to the EU. Period. You will never have another version of Windows, Office or any other Microsoft product again. Lets see how fast the panic would have set in and they change their minds. I so applaud Google for their stance in China on withdrawing.

Butterman said,
No problem. Just dont do street view there. Period. And when complaint calls come in on why Street View doesnt work on any android phone, forward them to the EU office to answer. Let the lawmakers take the heat on the phone and at the polls in the end.

More companies need to stop taking crap like this. Like when the EU decided to sue Microsoft. Mircosoft should have said, fine EU. We will withdraw all sales to the EU. Period. You will never have another version of Windows, Office or any other Microsoft product again. Lets see how fast the panic would have set in and they change their minds. I so applaud Google for their stance in China on withdrawing.


Yet Google haven't withdrawn, so far its just talk.

Butterman said,
No problem. Just dont do street view there. Period. And when complaint calls come in on why Street View doesnt work on any android phone, forward them to the EU office to answer. Let the lawmakers take the heat on the phone and at the polls in the end.

More companies need to stop taking crap like this. Like when the EU decided to sue Microsoft. Mircosoft should have said, fine EU. We will withdraw all sales to the EU. Period. You will never have another version of Windows, Office or any other Microsoft product again. Lets see how fast the panic would have set in and they change their minds. I so applaud Google for their stance in China on withdrawing.

Easy for an American to say I bet.

Butterman said,
No problem. Just dont do street view there. Period. And when complaint calls come in on why Street View doesnt work on any android phone, forward them to the EU office to answer. Let the lawmakers take the heat on the phone and at the polls in the end.

More companies need to stop taking crap like this. Like when the EU decided to sue Microsoft. Mircosoft should have said, fine EU. We will withdraw all sales to the EU. Period. You will never have another version of Windows, Office or any other Microsoft product again. Lets see how fast the panic would have set in and they change their minds. I so applaud Google for their stance in China on withdrawing.

In case you didn't know...there are 500 million people in the EU (at least). Withdrawing from a market like that would cripple the company and its shareholders far sooner than it cripples the EU lol.

Edited by Bhav, Feb 26 2010, 11:58pm :

Chasethebase said,

Easy for an American to say I bet.

Well, I would agree with the above statement as it pertains to Google if this were in the US as well. 6 months is just unreasonable. As for the Microsoft connection, that would have been a bit silly on Microsoft's part, as it would have cut out a sizeable profit center I would imagine...

Butterman said,
No problem. Just dont do street view there.
The general public won't know why they aren't doing it but and will assume it's just Google deciding not to market the product there. In the end it will hurt Googles reputation well before the EU's.

Edited by Smigit, Feb 27 2010, 1:08am :

ziper said,
Most EU lawmakers with any real authority don't get elected, they don't care about polls.

Wrong. MEP's have to be elected and MEP,s vote to pass proposed laws

Butterman said,
No problem. Just dont do street view there. Period. And when complaint calls come in on why Street View doesnt work on any android phone, forward them to the EU office to answer. Let the lawmakers take the heat on the phone and at the polls in the end.

More companies need to stop taking crap like this. Like when the EU decided to sue Microsoft. Mircosoft should have said, fine EU. We will withdraw all sales to the EU. Period. You will never have another version of Windows, Office or any other Microsoft product again. Lets see how fast the panic would have set in and they change their minds. I so applaud Google for their stance in China on withdrawing.

Two things:
One: Population of EU = 500million, population of US = 300million. Which market do you think will been seen as more important?
Two: Google has not actually stopped doing business in China.

Magpie said,

Wrong. MEP's have to be elected and MEP,s vote to pass proposed laws

But the real power lies with the council & commission, not the parliament.

oufc_gav said,
Two things:
One: Population of EU = 500million, population of US = 300million. Which market do you think will been seen as more important?
Two: Google has not actually stopped doing business in China.

Its a shame Microsoft didn't refuse to sell Windows 7 in the EU, and Google should definitely just withdraw the street view service.

Its about time they stood up for themselves!

Edited by dvb2000, Feb 28 2010, 9:10am :

In 20 years time it would have been cool to use some form of historical street view to look at changes in areas over the years. I guess there are lots of positives and negatives to the decision.

The EU simply must die, they are a bunch of dictators and are in no way helping the people they claim to be.

CarlJ said,
The EU simply must die, they are a bunch of dictators and are in no way helping the people they claim to be.

No they do help the EU... when American corporation "do wrong" they fine them, as the fine is always less than the profit those companies make in the EU... they pay up. Consequently the American companies are subsiding Europe.

The people they annoy most are Americans.

lt8480 said,
No they do help the EU... when American corporation "do wrong"
So how exactly has this decision helped the people? Why not make any site that takes a photo in public remove it after 6 months and retake it? Whats to say that photo they take in 6 months won't have something more compromising in it than the one it's replacing?

And then there is the case with the media player in Windows which resulted in a version that practically no one ended up buying anyway. Again...that didn't really help anyone at all.

Smigit said,
So how exactly has this decision helped the people? Why not make any site that takes a photo in public remove it after 6 months and retake it? Whats to say that photo they take in 6 months won't have something more compromising in it than the one it's replacing?

And then there is the case with the media player in Windows which resulted in a version that practically no one ended up buying anyway. Again...that didn't really help anyone at all.

Uh seeing as how they cited law when they said 6 months I think it is safe to say this applies to not just Google. Or are you just incapable of reading?

Frazell Thomas said,

Uh seeing as how they cited law when they said 6 months I think it is safe to say this applies to not just Google. Or are you just incapable of reading?

So any photo that was taken more than 6 months ago has to be taken offline? Hmm, going to be some mighty annoyed photographers (as well as billions of facebook/flickr/etc users)

Smigit said,
So how exactly has this decision helped the people? Why not make any site that takes a photo in public remove it after 6 months and retake it? Whats to say that photo they take in 6 months won't have something more compromising in it than the one it's replacing?

And then there is the case with the media player in Windows which resulted in a version that practically no one ended up buying anyway. Again...that didn't really help anyone at all.

Continue reading what I wrote past the "do wrong", and I was sarcastically referring to the perhaps wrong nature of the EU fining the US companies and thus taking money out of the US economy and placing it in the EU. I never said removing the pictures helped the EU, I said fining them helped the EU.

kcbworth said,
So any photo that was taken more than 6 months ago has to be taken offline? Hmm, going to be some mighty annoyed photographers (as well as billions of facebook/flickr/etc users)
No, that is not the case. *sigh*

CarlJ said,
The EU simply must die, they are a bunch of dictators and are in no way helping the people they claim to be.

It's very simple: Google is a company that operates within the EU and as such they have to conform to the law.

Inklin said,
Here goes the EU again... >.<

Just because you're willing to surrender your privacy for the profit of a company that doesn't care about you doesn't mean the rest of us have to.

Majesticmerc said,

Just because you're willing to surrender your privacy for the profit of a company that doesn't care about you doesn't mean the rest of us have to.

Exactly and well said.

Majesticmerc said,

Just because you're willing to surrender your privacy for the profit of a company that doesn't care about you doesn't mean the rest of us have to.

I couldn't give a damn ... this is a stupid scenario. Google's Streetview is a free service that has a lot of use.

Majesticmerc said,
Just because you're willing to surrender your privacy for the profit of a company that doesn't care about you doesn't mean the rest of us have to.

It's a f*cking street - you think that some how by removing it after 6 months and re-uploading a new picture some how protects *YOUR* privacy?

The EU is going well beyond what I would consider reasonable - and idiots with anti-capitalist conspiracy theorists don't help the situation one iota.

rawr_boy81 said,
It's a f*cking street - you think that some how by removing it after 6 months and re-uploading a new picture some how protects *YOUR* privacy?
And some people really need to read more comments before replying.

This is about the UNBLURRED imagery, not the processed stuff you see online.

Majesticmerc said,

Just because you're willing to surrender your privacy for the profit of a company that doesn't care about you doesn't mean the rest of us have to.


Oh noes my privacies!!!

A static image thats up to 12 months old is no more an invasion of privacy than walking down any street. Ironically now they'll be taking more pics n invding peoples precious privacy more

-T- said,
Oh noes my privacies!!!

Exactly my point. You don't give a **** about your privacy, so you're welcome to have it taken away from you. That doesn't mean however that you're free to take mine away from me too. I accept that there isn't a lot of privacy left in this online world, but that doesn't mean that the big G can take liberties. Google's unblurred imagery falls into the juristiction of Data Protection Laws, and Google has to comply, otherwise they're breaking the law.

-T- said,
A static image thats up to 12 months old is no more an invasion of privacy than walking down any street. Ironically now they'll be taking more pics n invding peoples precious privacy more

I don't really have an issue with GSV in city centres, where road systems can be confusing. GSV can help because it allows you to plot visual cues in advance. But that's not the issue IMO. The GSV car is going up residential streets where is can very much be (and is by many) considered an invasion of privacy, since the car is able to photograph houses through windows, and snap pictures of people in their own homes; something that a lot of people object to.

Edited by Majesticmerc, Feb 27 2010, 3:46pm :

Majesticmerc said,

Exactly my point. You don't give a **** about your privacy, so you're welcome to have it taken away from you. That doesn't mean however that you're free to take mine away from me too. I accept that there isn't a lot of privacy left in this online world, but that doesn't mean that the big G can take liberties. Google's unblurred imagery falls into the juristiction of Data Protection Laws, and Google has to comply, otherwise they're breaking the law.

I don't really have an issue with GSV in city centres, where road systems can be confusing. GSV can help because it allows you to plot visual cues in advance. But that's not the issue IMO. The GSV car is going up residential streets where is can very much be (and is by many) considered an invasion of privacy, since the car is able to photograph houses through windows, and snap pictures of people in their own homes; something that a lot of people object to.

You can object to it but you have no rights to privacy from the street. Anyone can walk down the street and take a picture of your house and you cant do crap about. If you want privacy build a bigger fence.

cabron said,

Feel that the EU are a bunch of communists dictatorship.

Remove the o, m, m, i, and s from communists and dictatorship from that comment. Can't they just work on something constructive instead of ****ing people off.

jbrunt1990 said,

Remove the o, m, m, i, and s from communists and dictatorship from that comment. Can't they just work on something constructive instead of ****ing people off.

Agreed.

cabron said,

Feel that the EU are a bunch of communists dictatorship.


Don't throw mud at communism! There's nothing communistic in this crap.
Dictatorship - yes. Communism - no.

Mekun said,

You can object to it but you have no rights to privacy from the street. Anyone can walk down the street and take a picture of your house and you cant do crap about. If you want privacy build a bigger fence.

Actually you can, since (in the EU at least) taking photographs of someone's home without permission is illegal.

sounds like the EU needs to be taught a lesson.

Google should do exactly what they are asking, but ONLY in the EU, so after 6 months the images will disappear (only to viewers in the EU) and they'll be left with no street view until the next lot of photos are taken.

Trouble with the EU, is much like when they originally told Microsoft they must remove the browser from windows 7, no dought they'll change their mind again on this once they realise they are only chopping off their own nose.

Edited by dvb2000, Feb 28 2010, 6:43am :

Inklin said,
Here goes the EU again... >.<

http://i45.tinypic.com/15yerf5.jpg

Edited by idoia, Feb 28 2010, 7:50am :