Street View goes UK wide tomorrow

Google's controversial photo mapping service Street View will cover most of the UK's roads as of tomorrow.

street view in London

As of tomorrow, Google's Street View mapping service will cover nearly all of the UK's roads, from bustling city streets to winding rural lanes.

The service arrived in the UK last year, with coverage of 25 major UK cities. Google has spent the time since snapping shots from all corners of the UK, covering 238,000 miles of public road - as well as a few sites, like Stonehenge, accessed with the Street View trike.

Not all of that has been easy to do, however. Street View's arrival was met with protest from privacy groups, and the village of Broughton famously blocked the camera car from accessing its streets.

Over the past year, Google has stressed it has been approved by the Information Commissioner's Office and says it respects privacy by blurring faces and vehicle licence plates, and providing a reporting feature.

This time around, it has this to say: "Google has gone to great lengths to safeguard privacy while allowing all British users to benefit from this feature... Google UK has consulted extensively with many privacy and community groups in developing the feature and privacy safeguards."

"The blurring technology is continually improving but sometimes this means we get some false positives - in some cases you can find we've blurred the face on a poster or the face of Colonel Sanders on the KFC signs," Google added in a statement.

Google claimed that Google Maps has seen a 30 per cent bump in use since Street View arrived, and commissioned a poll to show how people are using the service.

Apparently, 60 per cent of people use Street View to find where they're going - which rather makes sense for a mapping service - while a third have checked out foreign countries and one in five have used it to find their next house.

Ed Parsons, Google's geospatial technologist, said in a statement: "Street View takes mapping to a level not possible before. And with so many practical applications its no wonder that over two thirds of people who had tried the service said they would use Street View again."

The UK follows dozens of countries which are now covered by Street View, but some haven't opted to follow suit, including Germany - leading Google's Michael Jones to mock the country as it hosted him at CeBIT earlier this month.

Read on to find out why one man thinks Street View is a bad move for privacy.

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