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Google’s Street View put on hold in Greece

ATHENS, Greece — A privacy watchdog has banned Internet giant Google Inc. from gathering images in Greece for its Street View service until it provides additional privacy guarantees. Greece’s Data Protection Authority took the decision despite assurances from Google that it would blur faces and vehicle license plates when displaying the images online, and respond readily to removal requests.

Street View provides 360-degree panoramic images of urban areas that the user can manipulate, as part of Google’s Internet mapping products. Google’s Street View has become one of its more controversial projects, with privacy advocates warning it could compromise people’s rights and leave them open to abuses by criminals or snooping government agencies.

The Greek Data Protection Authority, in a decision, said it wanted clarification from Google on how it would store and process the original images and safeguard them from privacy abuses.

It also sought clarification on how Google planned to inform the public that its vehicles with mounted cameras are being used to take photographs.