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Google Street View Raises Privacy Questions Worldwide

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By Brian Kalish October 29, 2010

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The backlash against Google Street View in Germany and the Czech Republic has spread to Italy, Canada and even the United States.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday it has ended its investigation of Google Street View cars' collection of Internet users' personal communications, The New York Times reported.

FTC was satisfied with the steps Google took to prevent a recurrence of a problem that had arisen from its cars, which take pictures of buildings along city streets, according to the Times story. The cars had collected passwords, e-mail messages, and Web addresses of users on unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. Google stopped driving its cars in May and restarted in the summer, without collecting the Wi-Fi information.

In Canada, Google wasn't so lucky. Bloomberg reported that Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said Google Street View violated the country's privacy laws by accessing the personal information. The matter will be closed if the company makes recommended changes by Feb. 1, Bloomberg reported.

And in Italy, the privacy backlash continued. Italy's privacy regulator told Google that it will have to make sure its street view cars are clearly marked and their itinerary publicized, Reuters said, quoting a local newspaper. Reuters reported that a Google spokeswoman would not confirm the details of the decision.

Also in Italy, Rome prosecutors are investigating if the mapping service violated privacy laws, Reuters reported.

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