Google Street View blocked in Bangalore

Google has called off its image gathering cars until it addresses police concerns

Google's Street View has got off to a bad start in Bangalore, with the city police objecting to the collection of data by Google's cars.

Google confirmed in an e-mail that it received a letter from the city's Police Commissioner 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," it added.

Police Commissioner B.G. Jyothiprakash Mirji did not return calls.

Street View was launched in Bangalore last month with the plan to eventually cover the entire country.

The company said at the time that it was being very careful not to run into controversies about privacy or government concerns about security.

Google planned to coordinate with the local police and federal government agencies to get clearances and keep them informed about what the company is doing, said Vinay Goel, product head at Google India, soon after Street View was launched in the city, and Google's roving cars had started collecting images in the city.

People's faces and vehicles' license plates would be blurred to ensure that they are not identifiable, Goel added.

India has been sensitive about the collection of imagery by Internet companies. In 2005, India's former president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, criticized Google Earth and other online satellite mapping services for exposing sensitive installations in developing countries to terrorists.

Data protection authorities in a number of other countries are investigating Street View service, after the company said last year that its camera cars mistakenly collected data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks while compiling images of city streets for its Google Maps site.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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