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Google unleashes Street View upon the Amazon

River, not webshop. Spy cars also to slurp Israel

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Google's Street View is heading down the Amazon to capture pictures of "some of the most remote and biodiverse areas in the world", according to its official blog.

The Street View team will be floating downriver in partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), the non-profit conservation organisation that invited Google to the region.

Although Street View's photography hardware was designed for the urban jungle, Google had already come up with the Street View Trike – cameras mounted on a tricycle – to allow it take pictures at attractions such as London's Kew Gardens and Stonehenge.

While snapping images of the Amazon and Rio Negro Rivers of northwest Brazil, the software giant plans to employ the Trike on dirt tracks as well as mounting it on the boat as it floats along.

Google and the FAS will not only be busy capturing the natural wonders of the Amazon, but also plan to share images of local communities, as well as getting them involved in the photography process.

"By teaching locals how to operate these tools, they can continue sharing their points of view, culture and ways of life with audiences across the globe," the blog said.

Speaking of potentially inaccessible areas, Street View has also been approved to hit the streets of Israel, according to the country's Law, Information and Technology Authority (ILITA).

The country has been mulling the privacy implications of the sometimes controversial service since February and is now prepared to allow the cameras in public places, with a few caveats.

The authority has asked that Google allow requests from the public for further blurring of photos of homes and licence plates "in cases where the automatic blurring applied to photos before making them public malfunctioned or was inadequate".

Israeli citizens will also be allowed to file civil litigation against Google, even though the company and its database are outside the country's jurisdiction.

"Our purpose was to provide the public with substantive and legal recourse in Israel for any problem or complaint that may arise and I am happy to mention that Google seriously took our requirements into consideration and that its cooperation enabled this authorisation. The commitments taken by Google match the standard in countries which have a high level of data protection," said Yoram Hacohen, head of ILITA. ®

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