Google Street View told to halt filming in India

NEW DELHI (AP) — Google has been barred from taking pictures of streets in India for its popular Street View service until it obtains approval from the federal government, police said Tuesday.

T. Sunil Kumar, a senior police official in the technology hub of Bangalore, said the company would be allowed to resume filming only after it produces security clearances from the Home Ministry and Ministry of Defense.

The Mountain View, California-based company has so far not produced any clearance despite claiming to have it, Kumar said.

“We have security concerns. There are a lot of sensitive establishments in Bangalore and those pictures would be available in the public domain,” he added.

Officials at Google’s India subsidiary did not immediately comment.

India is especially sensitive about detailed photographs and locations of key buildings being made public since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in which 10 gunmen rampaged through city landmarks, killing 166 people.

Google India launched its Street View service in Bangalore in late May and plans to include other cities as well.

Street View has raised privacy concerns in many countries.

In Switzerland the company is appealing a court ruling that obliges it to ensure all faces and vehicle license plates are blurred before pictures are uploaded to the Street View service.

The service allows users to click on virtually any spot in a city to zoom into a series of street-level pictures taken by cars mounted with 360-degree cameras.

In Germany, Street View went online after a monthslong battle with authorities who insisted that citizens had the right to have images of their properties blurred. Only 20 German cities are pictured on Street View and in April, Google announced that it was removing all of its vehicles from the country.

In March, the company received a 100,000 euro (US$143,570) fine in France because the cars used to take photographs for Street View illegally collected personal data from Wi-Fi networks, something it has apologized for.