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Google re-shoots Japan scenes after privacy complaints

Company says it will lower its Street View cameras

Reuters

TOKYO — Internet search engine Google said it would re-shoot all Japanese pictures for its online photo map service, Street View, using lower camera angles after complaints about invasion of privacy.

Google's Street View, which offers 360-degree views of streets around the world using photos taken by cruising Google vehicles, has already run into privacy complaints in other countries and activists have tried to halt the service in Japan.

Google said in a statement today it would lower the cameras on its cars by 40 cm after complaints they were capturing images over fences in private homes. But it said it would continue filming in Japan, where it has so far covered 12 cities.

“It is certainly a fact that there have been concerns,” said Yoshito Funabashi, a spokesman at Google's Tokyo office. “We thought of what we can do as a company and tried to be responsible.”

Google said it has also blurred car number plates in the pictures, as it has done in Europe, but the new steps did not convince Japanese campaigners.

“They are just trying to get through at the technological level ... The question is, can we allow for them to shoot (images) unselectively?” said Yasuhiko Tajima, a professor of constitutional law at Sophia University in Tokyo.

Britain's privacy watchdog has rejected calls to shut Street View down there, where concerns have ranged from images such as someone throwing up outside a pub to media reports that a woman filed for divorce after her husband's car was pictured outside another woman's house.

Both Google Maps and a related mapping service, Google Earth, have also been criticized by some countries for providing images of sensitive locations, such as military bases.

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