Google's Street View service is headed to the Middle East -- as the Ministry of Justice, Israeli has given Google a green light to begin driving through the country and offers a panoramic picture of streets and public spaces created by vehicles equipped panoramic cameras, which take pictures during travel.
The Ministry's decision comes after months of discussion with Google about how to allow Street View in the country while still protecting concerns related to individual privacy and the bigger issue of violence/terrorism.
The Ministry of Justice said that Google Street View affects the privacy of residents in the area of the pictures. "The panoramic photographs of public spaces randomly capture people and other objects that can identify a person, such as motor vehicles' license plates and residences." It added, however, that Google has been operating technology that automatically blurs these and other details for a long time.
Mordechai Kedar, a retired Lt. Col. who served 25 years in Israeli intelligence, has been critical of the country's interest in bringing Street View there. He tells the AP that military locations should be barred from Street View: "God forbid a country should need to reveal its secret facilities just because Google invented something. The lives of people are more important, and the security of countries is more important."
The project has been at the center of a public and legal debate.
The government offered an online poll about Street View, and 70% of 5,000 people voted in favor of the service on the government's services and information portal.
According to Globes report, Google has agreed to:
- Israel will be able to initiate any civil legal challenges against Google inside Israel, even though the Street View data will be hosted outside the country.
- Google won't challenge the authority of Israel's Law, Information and Technology Authority to initiate criminal or administrative challenges if Google violates state law.
- Google will give the public a way to request additional blurring of images (beyond Google's normal level of blurring) after the images are published online.
- Google must use online and offline channels to inform the public about the Street View service, the right to ask for additional blurring and its planned driving routes. Google's Street View cars must also be clearly marked so the public can identify them.
A Google spokesperson provided this statement:
"We're pleased that the DPA has approved the operation of the Street View service, and hope to update on our plans soon."