Google's 'street view' bike causes controversy in France

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December 1, 2010, 11:51 am
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(NECN/CNN) - Google's got a problem on its corporate hands. The "Google Earth" project, mapping much of the world, makes some people angry. A leading concern: privacy.

Google has a new tricycle and wants everyone to know about it. The ubiquitous Internet search engine organized a press tour to a Loire Valley chateau to show off the way it is collecting images for its street view maps, in this case, with a hi-tech tri-cycle which can be used around ancient monuments and pedestrian passageways to shoot the ground level photos which are then incorporated into Google Maps.

It was a demonstration organized in part to help dispel lingering hostility toward the street view project here and elsewhere in Europe.

In a number of countries, some accuse Google of invading privacy with street view, capturing pictures of people, buildings, trademarks, and displaying them across the Internet in ways which no one but Google can control.

There have been complaints, and according to lawyers for a number of French critics, there could be a lawsuit over not just the images but personal data: emails, passwords and the like, which Google said earlier this year was accidentally collected in more than thirty countries.

Google France says the wifi data collection was stopped and will not be used again. As to the privacy issues, the company insists faces, license plates and any other identifying images will be digitally blurred to keep everything anonymous and that houses and buildings can be removed from sight if their owners ask.

Tags: France, bike, Google, privacy, Street View , tricycle
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