Google’s Street View seems like a great idea—give users of its Google maps product a street-level view of a location so they can more easily find their way around. But the service has engendered all manners of privacy complaints, particularly from individuals who claim they can be identified from photos appearing on the service. The latest brouhaha is in Japan, where Google has quietly announced it will reshoot all photographs used in its Street View mapping service using lower camera angles. Google will lower the cameras on its imaging vehicles by 40 cm (about 16 inches) after numerous complaints they were invading citizens’ privacy by shooting impacts over the fences of private homes.
So far, Google has shot Street View images in 12 Japanese cities, including Tokyo and Osaka. Following with the company’s practices in the U.S. and Europe, Google has been blurring out items like car license plates and faces, but the image changes have not been enough to placate all privacy advocates.
Google’s Street View feature is no stranger to controversy: it was just suspended from operating in Greece until officials get more clarification from the company, and privacy groups in Britain have called for it to be shut down, following concerns rising from cases such as a woman filing for divorce after her husband’s car was photographed outside another woman’s home—although Street View is still up and running in the Britain.