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Germans give peeking Google one in the eye

Schleswig-Holstein's answer is NEIN!

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The town of Molfsee near Kiel in the north-western German state of Schleswig-Holstein doesn't want to be filmed by Google for its Street View program, a service that provides 360-degrees street level images via Google Maps.

The leader of the Christian Democratic Union on the town council told the Lübecker Nachrichten that "we are not going to let this happen". The 5,000 inhabitants find the project "extremely alarming" as criminals can plan break-ins more easily. Germany's Federal Commissioner for Data Protection also has major misgivings about Google's plans, according to Der Spiegel

When the Google project was launched on May 25, 2007, only five American cities were included. It has since expanded to thousands of locations in the United States, France, Italy, Australia and Japan. Google is filming the streets using cameras mounted on the roofs of cars.

In order to stop Google from filming its community, Molfsee plans to require the company to get a special permit, which it will not issue. Other communities in Schleswig-Holstein are looking into taking legal actions to protect themselves from Google's prying eyes.

But Google says it doesn't need permits and that the privacy concerns are exaggerated. The Street View program automatically blurs out the faces of people and license plate numbers caught in the images.

However, it isn't the first time Google has been criticised for its Street View program. Simon Davies, the director of the London-based surveillance watchdog Privacy International, earlier blamed Google for failing to consult widely before launching the tool.

And in the US, StopInternetPredators.org recently started a campaign to highlight child safety concerns over Google's Street View. Stacie D. Rumenap, former deputy director of the American Conservative Union, argues that Google Street View "can be misused by child predators to target children". ®

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