Germany, Google Still in Conflict Over Street View Data

Germany and Google remain at an impasse over how long certain data should be retained by the company for its Street View imagery.

Google and German data protection officials from Hamburg held a video conference on Wednesday to discuss why and for how long the company wants to keep images with people's faces and license plates.

Google uses automated software to blur that information from photos published on its Maps product, but the German officials want to know how long that raw, unblurred data will be kept by Google before being deleted.

The company has been unclear about how long it plans to hold the data, said Johannes Caspar, who heads the data protection agency for the Hamburg area, on Friday. Hamburg is leading the discussions with Google on behalf of 15 other German states.

In a statement, Google said Friday that it is committed to permanently deleting the data, but only after the raw data can be used to improve the blurring technology.

"The request to introduce a fixed period during which the data is retained has implications for the industry as a whole and will therefore require broader discussion," the statement said.

Google is also in discussions on the issue with the European Commission's Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, which is comprised of data protection officials from 27 European Union countries.

Caspar said the agency is still investigating how German law would apply to the Street View images. The agency could order Google to delete the data if the company wants to continue with Street View in Germany.

So far, Street View is not live yet in Germany, and Google has been collecting imagery with its roving vehicles. Street View is already available for about 100 urban areas in the U.S.

Caspar said a resolution could come as soon as next week.

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