Google claims Streetview privacy is adequate

Some faces are clearly viewable on Street View
Some faces are clearly viewable on Street View

Google has responded to claims that people are easily recognisable in its UK release of Street view by saying it will happily blur out anyone who feels their identity is compromised.

A spokesperson told TechRadar: "Faces are blurred out on Street View, but if people feel they can be recognised they can contact us and ask to have the image blurred out."

Not enough fuzzing

A number of comments have quickly sprung up on the internet in response to the release in the UK, with one on the Guardian's website stating: "[Google's] face fuzzing feature doesn't seem to have been working too well, as when I checked around where I live, there were plenty of clearly identifiable faces (including one boy on a bicycle clearly glaring at the car for pushing him off the road)."

Google responded to us by stating: "The whole operation [launching Street View in the UK] is incredibly complex. It's all new technology that will continue to evolve. We have people constantly reviewing it, and if people think they have been missed we can blur them out."

The Information Commissioner's Office, which previously said that it felt Google's efforts to safeguard privacy with Street View were adequate, told TechRadar that it will continue to monitor the system.

A spokesperson said "We've been assured the correct safeguards have been put in place, although if people are concerned [over their privacy] they can raise those with us.

No targets

"We don't think Google have put in any specific targets [related to the amount of faces that must be blurred] although it must be a proportionate level, one where people's privacy and personal information is not put at risk.

"Of course, if anyone has any concerns they can contact us and we will look into it."

Google recently managed to defend itself in the US when a couple attempted to sue for putting a picture of their house on the internet via Street View, though the court threw out the case.

Google then said: "We blur faces in Street View and we offer easy-to-use removal tools so users can decide for themselves whether or not they want a given image to appear in Street View.

"It is unfortunate the parties involved decided to pursue litigation instead of making use of these tools."

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.