Bangalore Suspends Google’s Street View Service

In a setback to its global mapping project, Google has stopped collecting images for its Street View service in the southern Indian city of Bangalore after objections from police. “We can confirm that we received a letter from the Commissioner of Police regarding Street View. We are currently reviewing it and have stopped our cars until we have a chance to answer any questions or concerns the police have,” Google spokesperson said.

Earlier in 2007, the search engine giant Google launched its Street View Service as an experimental project (like Google Earth), which enables a panoramic view from various positions in Google maps and can explore places through 360-degree street-level imagery.

A particular spot can be zoomed in locations facilitated with the Street View Service further, view can be customized with options like rotate, walk, jump or exit. It was launched across five US cities and then the company attempted to cover all the seven continents.

Google launched its project to collect high definition images to give Google users 360 degree views of streets only last month in Bangalore. Google data collection has caused concern in numerous countries.

Street View was launched in Bangalore last month with the plan to eventually cover the entire country. But according to Google, it received a letter from the Commissioner of Police of Bangalore asking it to stop the cars. The cars were taking pictures and mapping streets of Bangalore. The data was supposed to be used for Google’s Street View service.

Bangalore is the IT hub of India, where Google employs thousands of people. The city has various organizations such as DRDO, HAL and ISRO and the fear could be that overall view of the roads leading to them could be used by a various anti-social elements in the future.

Google, however, had earlier said that in order to protect privacy, the vehicles will capture images of public places alone and blur out faces of people and number plates of vehicles to make them unidentifiable.

We are committed to balancing our user’s needs with concerns about security. We recognize the sensitivity associated with certain locations and are committed to working with relevant stake holders to ensure that their concerns are addressed,” Google’s Head of Products in India, Vinay Goel had said, assuring that the pictures carry only public information.

Considering the questionable track record of the mapping service, India won’t be the first one to put the spokes in the wheels of the Street View car. Singapore, Canada, and several European nations have adopted the same approach in the past.

Data protection authorities in a number of other countries are investigating Street View service, after the company said last year that its camera cars mistakenly collected data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks while compiling images of city streets for its Google Maps site. Only time will tell if Google can convince the Indian Government to let it resume the service.

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