The arrival of Google Street View in Germany has not been without controversy. Indeed, thousands of Germans decided to opt out of the program and asked Google to blur their houses. Faced with the issues, Google decided to roll this service out slowly in Germany, starting with one small town two weeks ago. Today, however, Google is bringing Street View to Germany’s 20 largest cities, including Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Berlin.
Just like in other countries, Google also blurs faces and license plates in its Street View images for Germany. The most recent pictures on the site are from February 2010 and the oldest from 2008.
The controversy around Street View kept many Germans from allowing images of their houses to be shown on the service, the mayor of Markt Overstaufen – the first town to appear on Street View – told the Germany’s c’t magazine that he did not receive a single complaint about the service from his constituents. Overall, though, the reaction to today’s expansion is anything but positive.
Google is clearly hoping for a positive reaction to this expansion, but looking at the current online discussions around this topic, it quickly becomes clear that there is still a lot of resistance – even among Germany’s most Internet-savvy users. Just like in the early days of Street View in the U.S., users are concerned that thieves could use the service to scoop out new targets or that government bureaucrats could use it to snoop on citizens.
From the American perspective, it seems somewhat odd that people would want to hide images of their houses from the Internet and that this could stir up such strong emotions, but it also doesn’t help that, as SpiegelOnline reports, some of the houses that were supposed to be blurred are still visible from some perspectives.