Page last updated at 08:56 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 09:56 UK

Street View under fire in Japan

Street View Japan
Residents say the Street View images let users see more than they should.

Google's Street View service suffered a second blow this week after numerous complaints in Japan forced the firm to start reshooting all the photos.

Cameras attached to the Street View car were "too high" for Japanese buildings, allowing them to see over walls into private areas.

Google said it would lower the cameras on its cars by 40cm (16in).

On 12 May, Greece's data protection agency ordered Google to stop filming because of privacy concerns.

In a statement, Google said it would make "locally appropriate modifications to ensure a better user experience".

"We have lowered the height of the camera due to the unique characteristics of many Japanese roads; they tend to be narrow, without pavements and driveways, and houses are built close to the street," the statement said.

"We think the new camera height allows us to get a high-quality image of the street while respecting the privacy of homeowners."

The Street View service covers 12 cities in Japan, including Tokyo and Osaka.


First launched in the US two years ago, Street View now covers nine countries including the United Kingdom, and Google wants to expand the service to cover all of Europe.

Users zoom in to a location in Google Maps, and then drag the "Pegman" icon above the zoom bar on to a given street.

A picture of that street appears, which users can control to get a 360-degree view of the area or to progress on street level, throughout the city.

Google says the service shows only imagery already visible from public thoroughfares.

However, it has come in for criticism from some quarters, being accused of an invasion of privacy.

Earlier this week, Greece's data protection agency banned Google from expanding its Street View service in the country, pending "additional information" from the firm.

Authorities want to know how long the images will be kept on Google's database and what measures it will take to make people aware of privacy rights.

In the UK, residents near Milton Keynes blocked the driver of a Google Street View car in April when he started taking photographs of their homes saying the service was "facilitating crime".

The Pentagon has also banned Google from filming near or inside its military bases, saying it posed a "potential threat" to security.

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