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Google map may break Canada privacy law

Ottawa, Canada, September 12, 2007: The Street View feature of Google Maps, with its close-up views of city streets and recognizable shots of people, could violate a Canadian law protecting individual privacy, officials said recently.

Google Inc introduced street-level map views in May, giving web users a series of panoramic, 360-degree images of nine U.S. cities. Some of the random pictures feature people in informal poses who can clearly be identified. The images for Canada were produced in partnership with a Canadian firm Immersive Media Corp, which says it has taken similar street level pictures of major Canadian cities. Canadian law obliges businesses wishing to disclose personal information about individuals to first obtain their consent

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart wrote to Google in early August asking for more details. She said if the Street View product were expanded to Canada without being amended; it could well violate privacy laws. Stoddart said pictures of people on Street View were clear enough to be considered personal information.

Stoddart sent a similar letter to Immersive Media and the documents were posted on her website, www.privcom.gc.ca