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Street View dismisses German privacy fears

Will launch by end of year, Google insists

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Google has dismissed German privacy fears over Street View, saying it will launch the service in the country by the end of the year, AFP reports.

Officials in Germany - described as "especially sensitive to the issue due to the abuse of privacy by the Nazis and Communists in the past" - have expressed concerns "that thieves could use pictures of private houses to gain illegal access and that photos of people were being published without their consent."

Google had a run-in last year with the powers that be over privacy laws which "generally restrict photographs of people and property except in very public situations, such as a sporting event, without a person's consent."

The matter appeared to have been settled when Google struck a deal to blur German faces and vehicle numberplates, and offer a "removal on request" service for sensitive material - something it already offers elsewhere.

However, the country's Consumer Protection Minister, Ilse Aigner, earlier this month said she was contemplating "legal steps and possible changes to the law" to stop Google in its tracks.

Describing Street View as "a millionfold violation of privacy rights," she thundered: "No secret service in the world would hunt for images in such a cavalier manner."

The head of Google's German legal team, Arnd Haller, retaliated this week: "It is difficult to forbid a company to do something that is legal." ®

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