Gov't Okays Google Street View to Start Mapping Israel

Objections to service claim that Street View cameras have photographed people's faces and vehicle license plates.

Google will be allowed to operate its Street View service to provide 360-degree images of Israeli streets, the Justice Ministry has decided.

The ministry's Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority will allow Google to deploy special photography equipment to the streets in Israel, and to post photographs on its map service.

Goodle - AFP - 21.8.11

Google's Street View service has been criticized sharply in several countries. Objections have been raised claiming that Street View cameras have photographed people's faces and vehicle license plates, and demands have been made for such photos to be blurred. In some places in Europe, citizens have blocked off roads, trying to stop Street View camera crews from entering.

The Justice Ministry has asked Street View to respect users' privacy and has made its authorization of the service contingent on several conditions.

Relating to privacy issues, the Justice Ministry says Street View users in Israel will be offered an efficient, reliable way to blur images of license plates, places of residence and other objects.

Google has also been asked to provide a full explanation of the Street View service, rights of citizens, and routes that the camera crews plan to follow.

The ministry has also demanded that Google instruct Google Israel to heed legal proceedings in the country, meaning that any civil litigation brought by citizens against the company will be carried out in this country, despite the fact that Google's main center is in the U.S.

Google has also promised not to dispute criminal claims that might be raised against Street View by arguing that the Law, Information and Technology Authority lacks standing to prosecute criminal claims against the company in Israel.

The Justice Ministry's negotiations with Google, headed by Yoram Hacohen of the Law, Information and Technology Authority, lasted three months.

"We are happy that the Law, Information and Technology Authority has given clearance for the operation of Street View in Israel, and we hope to update our information in the near future," Google said.

Countries in Europe have applied more stringent restrictions on the Google service. For instance, Germany has asked Google to allow citizens to blur details, such as images of houses, before they are posted on the Internet.

In Switzerland, legal officials also imposed a number of demands regarding blurring procedures. The Swiss were particularly concerned about concealing the identities of people near places like hospitals and courts.