The Street View feature, incorporated in Google Maps about four years ago, enables panoramic street views in select locations across the world. This is achieved by surveying the streets with specially modified vehicles housing clusters of wide-angle cameras and GPS units. Everything was fine and dandy for a while, but you can’t roam the streets with an AH-64D Longbow rivalling surveillance gear without causing a privacy violation or two. Google was soon caught with its pants down for sniffing out user data and it eventually had to pay the price. However, the internet behemoth pulled up its socks and complied with the safeguards laid down by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The case was closed and everyone lived happily ever after.
Looks like the Americans take their “drive-thrus” very seriously
Well, not really, because just three weeks after Google begun mapping Bangalore with its scary Street View cars, the operation came to a grinding halt after the commissioner of police voiced his objection through a letter. “We 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”, elaborated the search firm on the development. Neither Google, nor the police have revealed the reasons behind the ban, but we surmise it’s the same ol’ privacy concerns.
Considering the questionable track record of the mapping service, India won’t be the first one to put the spokes in the wheels of the Street View car. Singapore, Canada, and several European nations have adopted the same approach in the past. The service has been known to collect user data over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks as well, so the govt’s concerns aren’t misplaced this time around. Only time will tell if Google can convince the Indian Government to let it resume the service.