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Google Lets Germans Erase Their Homes on Street View

Blurry Street View Home In response to protests from privacy advocates in Europe's most populous country, Google is now allowing Germans to completely erase their homes from the company's Street View feature -- but only for a limited time.

In an unprecedented move, Google has decided to give Germans until September 15th to fully "opt-out" of Street View. Should a German user choose to nix the service, which is available in 20 German cities, his or her property will be completely blurred out by a special Google app. Interestingly enough, Google's decision doesn't seem to have been prompted by any newly passed German law or policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel, for instance, has publicly confirmed that she won't blur her residence out of Street View. And, even though German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maziere is currently pushing for a new law that would specifically target Google and its Street View team, he's facing stiff competition from a clause in the German constitution that expressly prohibits such corporate targeting.

A more likely explanation, then, is that Google's simply trying to win back some of the European goodwill it lost a few months ago, when the company admitted that its Street View cars had inadvertently collected private data sent across Wi-Fi networks. But is this really the best way to do it? As TechCrunch points out, allowing Germans to disappear en masse may very well set off a domino effect across Europe, where disgruntled citizens could begin clamoring for their opt-out privileges as well. [From: TechCrunch, via: Gawker]

Tags: AngelaMerkel, europe, germany, google, GoogleMaps, GoogleStreetView, GoogleStreetViewCar, opt-out, privacy, PrivacyIssues, PrivacySettings, StreetView, top