Concerns: Google was told bu EU privacy regulators to warn cities where its Street View cameras would be taking pictures
Privacy regulators have told Google to warn people before it sends cameras out into cities to take images for its Street View maps.
And the internet search giant should shorten the time it keeps the original photos from one year to six months, the regulators said in a letter to the company.
In a statement, Google said its need to retain Street View images for one year was 'legitimate and justified'.
The company, based in Mountain View, U.S., said it already posts notifications on its website about where Street View cameras will be taking images.
The alert system today indicated its vehicles would be in Nantes, France, as well as other nearby cities.
Street View launched in the U.S. in 2007 and now adds photos of real-life street scenes to Google's maps of around 100 cities worldwide.
To placate privacy concerns, it uses special software to blur pictures of faces and car licence plates.
Google has been slow to expand the service in Europe after governments raised concerns that taking pictures of people in public places could break EU rules on personal privacy.
In May last year Greece told the company to stop plans to photograph its streets last year until more privacy safeguards are provided and in April residents of Broughton, Cambridgeshire, blocked the camera van by forming a human chain.
Earlier this month, two enrage Norwegians in scuba gear chased after the Google Street View vehicle as it took pictures in Bergen.
It has had to bow to German demands to erase raw footage of faces, house numbers, licence plates and individuals who have told authorities they do not want their information used in the service.
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said that Europe had 'high standards for data protection' and that she expected that 'all companies play according to the rules of the game'.
Protest: Two men can be seen sitting quietly wearing scuba gear before spotting the Street View car and chasing after it in Bergen, Norway
The head of EU data protection agencies, Alex Turk, told Google's data privacy chief Peter Fleischer in a letter that the company should always give advance notice on its website and in the local or national press before it takes pictures.
It should take care to avoid taking pictures 'of a sensitive nature and those containing intimate details not normally observable by a passer-by,' Mr Turk said.
He also said that the company should revise its 'disproportionate' policy of keeping the original unblurred images for up to a year, saying improvements in Google's blurring technology and better public awareness would lead to fewer complaints - and a shorter delay for people to react to the photos they see on the site.
Complaints about the images put online would usually be checked against the original photos.
The data privacy warning comes a day after an Italian court convicted three Google executives - including privacy director Peter Fleischer - of privacy violations because they did not act quickly enough to remove an online video that showed sadistic teen bullies mocking and hitting an autistic boy.
Google said it would appeal the case, claiming it attacked freedom of speech on the internet.
It also faces an EU probe into allegations that it demotes rival sites in its search rankings..
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