Only three percent of Germans opt out of Street View

At face value it seems German citizens don’t have that many concerns with Google’s Street View service after all.

According to Google, around 244,000 Germans have asked that their homes be made unrecognisable in its service, scheduled to launch in Germany next month. This figure amounts to a measly three percent of the population of Germany’s 20 largest cities where Street View is set to launch.

When the service was announced citizens requested that their homes be kept out of the service. Google agreed to the request giving citizens until 15 October to tell the company they do not want to be involved.

in a blog post : “Since April 2009, people in Germany have been able to ask for their house to be blurred on Street View ahead of the product being launched. At first they could ‘opt-out’ by writing us a letter and a few months ago we launched a special online tool to make the process easier.

“We worked closely with the Data Protection Authorities to ensure all the right German privacy standards were met.

“We’re now close to launching Street View imagery for the 20 biggest cities in Germany and we’ve counted the number of households in those cities which decided to opt-out. Out of a total of 8,458,084 households we received 244,237 opt-outs, which equals 3 percent of households. Two out of three opt-ots came through our online tool.”

However, he warned that there could be a few mistakes on the way.

“Given how complex the process is, there will be some houses that people asked us to blur that will be visible when we launch the imagery in a few weeks time. We’ve worked very hard to keep the numbers as low as possible but in any system like this there will be mistakes.

“For instance, some people asked us to blur their house, but didn’t give us the precise location. In such cases the household can still ask us to blur the image using the ‘report a problem’ tool on Street View once imagery is published – and we’ll do it as fast as we can. The same is true of faces and car licence plates that our automatic blurring technology may have missed.”

Germany has some of the toughest privacy laws in Europe. It has a data commissioner for each state and its Hamburg commissioner for data protection, Dr Johannes Caspar, has been an outspoken critic of Google.

He has in the past voiced concerns about the opt outs, which he said were “unfortunately not respected”.

In September the search giant also met with German ministers to try to reconcile a partnership after the government questioned Google’s promise to allow citizens to opt out of Street View.  The meeting with the government was to try to find a way of respecting privacy while not blocking the whole project. It seems a compromise was reached with the service soon to be launching.