Google Street View fleet runs aground in City

Google Street View fleet runs aground in City

Google Street View fleet runs aground in City

Barely three weeks after the search giant’s “Google Street View” cars started driving around the City, the company has grounded the fleet after objections raised by the City police.

A statement from Google said it had received a letter from the City police commissioner, asking it to stop the cars. Equipped with hi-tech cameras, the cars were taking 360 degree pictures and mapping the roads for the Street View service.

These images were to be embedded onto the popular Google Maps and Google Earth services.  

“We can confirm that we have received a letter from the commissioner of police regarding Street View. We are currently reviewing it and have stopped our cars until we have a chance to answer any questions or concerns the police have,” the statement read.

Ironically, Google had mentioned on May 26, the day it launched Street View, that it has been working closely with the city authorities in taking pictures of public areas.  Although the City police commissioner was not available for comment, it is learnt that the police had reservations about the legality of the Street View service in India.

The restrictions on photography by foreigners and foreign firms in the country could also be a reason for the police decision, sources said.

When it was pointed out that the cars had captured personal information such as faces, car numbers and even interiors of houses (in Japan), Google’s Head of Products in India, Vinay Goel, said the software it had developed would go to great lengths in covering such details.

Google had plans to extend the Street View services to other cities later, enabling those in metros and other major Indian cities to locate streets and prominent places through pictures.

“We are committed to balancing our user’s needs with concerns about security. We recognise the sensitivity associated with certain locations and are committed to working with relevant stake holders to ensure that their concerns are addressed,” Goel had said, assuring that the pictures carry only public information.

He conceded that technology would be used “both for good and bad purposes,” saying that Google or any tech provider cannot take responsibility for how their services  are used.