Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Minnesota private community says no to Google Street View

In the latest example of "opt-out" in action, an entire Minnesota town demanded that Google take down Street View imagery of its municipality, and the search giant duly complied.

The City Council for the 4,500-resident town of North Oaks, Minnesota sent a letter to Google in January giving the company the option to either remove the imagery or be cited for trespassing. Rather than risk a legal battle, North Oaks no longer has Street View capability.

Roads in the city are privately owned, and there are strict trespassing ordinances. Google says the event of an entire city asking to be removed is a "very rare" one. It is said to be the first time this has ever occurred.

Mayor Thomas Watson was quick to quash accusations of residents being "hoity-toity" folks overly concerned with their privacy: "They really didn't have any authorization to go on private property," he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Street View is not immune from controversy though. The US government has banned the company from imaging defense facilities, and a Pittsburgh family sued Google to have images of their house on a private road removed.

Simply put, Google wasn't an invited guest: "All residential roads in the City are private and for the use of North Oaks residents and their invited guests only," the city's Web site reads.

It's unknown at present whether Google will attempt at some future date to get permission from North Oaks to put its imagery back on the service.

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