Google To Take Street View Indoors


Google’s latest expansion of its Street View service will cover the inside of popular businesses

Google has announced plans to expand its Street View service to allow users to view the inside of selected shops and businesses.

Launched in 2007, Street View offered a street level view of five major US cities, but has since expanded to cover all seven continents, including Antarctica, as well as 96 percent of the UK.

Invasion of privacy?

As part of this latest expansion, Google will invite the most searched types of businesses in selected cities in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Europe, including London and Paris, to request a visit by its photographers.

Types of business include hotels, shops, gyms and garages, but large chains will not be considered and hospitals and lawyers offices will also be excluded.

Businesses must warn customers and employees about any photo shoot in advance and Google has promised to blur out or refuse images that include bystanders. Owners will also be able to upload their own photographs, but any such photos will become the property of Google, who could then use them in other applications. Businesses can request their removal, but the terms and conditions indicate there is no obligation to do so.

“Building on the Google Art Project, which took Street View technology inside 17 acclaimed museums, this project is another creative implementation of Street View technology, to help businesses as they build their online presence,” a Google spokesman told the BBC, “We hope to enable businesses to highlight the qualities that make their locations stand out through professional, high-quality imagery.”

This latest expansion is unlikely to reassure those who believe that Street View is an invasion of privacy. In May last year, Google was forced to admit that its Street View cars had accidentally amassed 600GB of data from personal and business Wi-Fi networks, including emails, passwords and web browsing information.

Google handed over the offending data to authorities in numerous countries including Germany, France, Spain and Canada, and was told it could not expand the service in the Czech Republic. However despite the possibility of an investigation by Scotland Yard, Google was cleared by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which concluded it was free of any “meaningful personal details.”

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