Germans Seek To Block Google Street View

The beginning of the end?

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Aspects of Google are pretty popular in Germany; the latest comScore data indicates, for example, that it’s cornered 79.8 percent of the country’s search market.  Google Street View is being looked at in a different light, however, and may hit a show-stopping barrier in the town of Molfsee.

Reinhold Harwart, the leader of the Christian Democratic Union on the town council, wants Street View to stay away from Molfsee.  "We are not going to let this happen," he said according to Spiegel Online.  Harwart then continued, "You can see everything in those photos!  That is opening house and home to criminals!"

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For Google, the first problem is probably those exclamation points.  It’s not too often that you see such strong sentiments in a news report.  Issue two is that a German state deputy officer agreed with Harwart’s response.  Problem three: they’ve got a plan.

Harwart said, "We will require that they get a special-use permit for the streets. . . .  And when they ask for a permit, we will say no."

If Google goes ahead with Street View coverage in Molfsee, it’s easy to imagine the company losing a court case (see the Gmail/Google Mail fiasco).  If Google puts on the brakes, other towns and cities all over the world might decide they also want to escape Street View.

The situation will definitely bear watching.

Germans Seek To Block Google Street View
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  • Guest

    "You can see everything in those photos!  That is opening house and home to criminals!"

    Here’s a newsflash. Walk down the street and you can see the houses anyway.

    • Guest

      LOL! My point of view as well. Walk, bike, car. Anyone at any time can ‘see’ what the camera sees. Plus, it’s not real time so the images taken now will be there most likely for years. Doubt anyone would be that dumb (wait… I’m sure someone is) to think that if they saw someone leaving the house with a briefcase in hand that they’re still at work and not in their house at that moment!

      It’s not like they’re taking cameras down alley ways and into backyards. If it’s a privacy issue then they need to close off the streets at each entrance and treat it like a border. You don’t live on the street or are visiting someone who does, then no entry. 

      I’d like to understand what the real issue is. Sometimes things that seem so unbelievable on the surface have a deeper meaning.

      Especially for people not from that area and want to visit love the idea. I know I’ve used street view a number of times to better orient myself when I travel somewhere. I’m not a bird so it’s sometimes hard to picture things by always looking down like the satellite images show.

      I’m sure that the open doors and windows people see are closed and locked by now! Burglars can go home now. ;-)

  • http://www.e-commercewebdesign.co.uk Adam – Ecommerce Website Design

    It is getting to a stage now where people’s privacy must be taken into consideration. We all know Google doesn’t regard people’s personal details as things that can’t be shared worldwide.

  • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

    Or are they hiding something?

  • http://www.siennapacific.com/woven-clothing-labels.html Rosana – Custom Clothing Labels

    It is understandable that for some people the idea of their "lives" being online is very scary, like they feel their life is exposed for anyone to see.

    What they fail to understand is that it is already like that. In Germany, like in the US, the use of street cameras, watching the traffic, for example is very generalized.

    But maybe these people are afraid of "the enemy" seeing what their town looks like and the exact location of everything they consider private or should be under secrecy… who knows.

    My take: they are just prolonging the inevitable which is the world to know about them and it has already started, in some degree….


  • http://fitbodytoday.co.uk GB2008

    I have to agree with those last two comments – EVERYTHING on Google can be seen by simply walking down that street anyway.  And the photos are going to be so badly out of date, I can’t see anyone using them for criminal activities with any success…

    On the other hand, if you are looking to buy or rent in the area, those pictures are worth their weight in gold!  First to find the place and then to understand what kind of neighbourhood you are moving into.  For me – this is one of the most useful tools in the Google suite!

  • Guest

    I agree with the town of Molfsee.  Having cameras everywhere in the town, and the street images on the the web, ruins the small-town feel of the town and reduces the quality of private life.

    I think Google should focus on more important things like, feeding the hungry, and improving the economics of poor countires.

    • Guest

      Google is not a charitable organization whose purpose is to feed the hungry and solve world problems. It’s a business, and there are organizations that exist to tackle hunger and the like.

      As for your concerns regarding "cameras everywhere" – do I understand correctly that you think the Street View images are the result of live webcams placed on every corner? This is not the case. Google employees, or people contracted by Google, drove around in a car and snapped those pictures probably months or even a year before publication. Since it’s not likely Google can budget updating those images very often, I’ll bet the same images will be there two or three years from now, as is the case with satellite imagery.

      I really think some of the fear expressed is based on ignorance of how Street View works. People are all too willing to take the word of others and pass judgment, rather than examining the service for themselves. If Google is at fault for anything it’s for not providing some explanation that the pictures are static when people access them at maps.google.com. If they did, that might serve to calm some of the concern.

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