European Union puts the thumbscrews on Google Street View maps

Google Street View
is probably one of the coolest mapping applications of the past decade (along with satellite images). I’ll regularly pull up a Street View map before I head to a destination I’ve never been to, and in most cases, the images make it much easier for me to navigate. I’ve even used it on my Google powered phone as a way to get an idea where I’m heading.

Sadly, the European Union isn’t as big a fan – their privacy laws are some of the strictest in the world, which is obviously great for privacy fans. but not so much for fans of Google Street View.

In a ruling last week, the EU has demanded that Google start deleting all uncensored Street View images after just 6 months (in Europe, Google has to blur all faces), and that Google has to start announcing in advance where their camera car will be filming.

The members of “The Article 29 Data Protection Working Party” want to see the announcements made on and in the local media.

Of course, these new measures may prove too problematic for Google, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Europeans find themselves without Street View images if the current plan doesn’t change.

Pompeii now on Google Street View

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii is the latest addition to Google Street View.

Available from Google’s UNESCO World Heritage list of street views, it’s the latest addition to a selection of famous sites that includes Stonehenge, Prague’s historic center, and the Roman/Medieval Spanish town of Segovia.

Pompeii was a Roman provincial town near the Gulf of Naples in Italy. It was buried by a massive eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Thick layers of volcanic ash kept the town in a remarkable state of preservation. Visitors (and now web surfers) can admire buildings, statues, wall paintings, graffiti, even furniture. The most eerie bits are the plaster casts of the eruption’s many victims. Their bodies rotted away and left holes in the hardened ash. Modern archaeologists filled these with plaster to create ghostly images of men, women, and children perishing from suffocation.

Pompeii and its neighboring town of Herculaneum give an unparalleled look into the daily life of the Roman Empire. The Italian government hopes that having Pompeii on the web it will encourage more visitors. While a walk through its virtual streets is a fun way to kill time at work, it’s nothing compared with doing it for real.

Greece blocks Google Street View

If you’ve ever been worried that Google Street View might expose your closet smoking habit, Greece might be the country for you to hang out in for a while. There, the Hellenic Data Protection Authority has banned Street View “until it provides further guarantee about privacy.” Though Street View is intended to show, well, the view of the street in a 360-degree panorama, the camera lens also inadvertently captures folks going about their every-day activities: sitting in cafés, walking down the street hand in hand with a secret lover….

Though bad habits and infidelity are not necessarily the issues Greece officials are concerned about, they do want to ensure that Street View complies with local privacy laws. Until Google can provide “further clarification … about how long it will store images for and the measures in place to make people aware of privacy rights,” you’re free to go about your clandestine business on the streets of Greece.

[Via CNN]

Stweet mashes up Twitter with Google Street View

It seems like we can’t get enough of Twitter lately. In fact, as the service continues to add new users, the number of applications that help you use it for travel only seems to grow. Recently we learned a quirky new tool called Stweet that links up the street level views found on Google Maps with the power of Twitter.

Although applications like Twittervision already show you a real time map of what and where people are tweeting, Stweet is slightly different. Instead of showing an anonymous map, Stweet pulls the approximate location of where a person submitted their message, attaching it to a street address and visualizing the location using Google’s nifty street view tool. The app can be customized to let you view specific cities like San Francisco or London.

How would someone use this for travel, you might be saying? One potential application might be mapping a city’s potential hangout spots. Guidebooks are great at telling you about good places to go six months ago…but they’re horrible keeping up with the day a visitor happens to be in town. Sure, that cafe in Paris sounded great in your Lonely Planet, but what about this August, when you’re actually around? Twitter is great at picking up trending topics and keywords – Stweet takes that idea to the next level. You can narrow down to specific cities and neighborhoods, seeing the areas that seem to be buzzing and the local topics that have people talking.

That said, an application like Stweet has the power to backfire horribly – the data isn’t necessarily reliable and you can’t necessarily confirm that a given tweeter shares your tastes. It also seems to be struggling with technical difficulties – as of the time of this writing the site seemed to be down. Still, as more and more phones share location data and mobile devices become more powerful, you can bet you’ll be seeing more of these types of services coming soon to a phone near you.

You can find Gadling on Twitter, as well as the most of the Gadling Team: Mike Barish, Kraig Becker, Catherine Bodry, Alison Brick, Justin Glow, Aaron Hotfelder, Tom Johansmeyer, Jeremy Kressmann, Heather Poole, Jamie Rhein, Annie Scott, Karen Walrond, Kent Wien, Brenda Yun.

Angry British mob chases Google out of their town

Here in the US we are used to being able to zoom in on street level images of anything in our area.

Google started mapping up and down our streets years ago, and it all happened with so little fanfare, that nobody really got the chance to complain.

Things are different in the UK, where residents are beginning to complain quite vocally about the privacy invasion caused by the ability to get up close and personal with just about anything, anywhere.

In the town of Milton Keynes, residents noticed the camera equipped Google car snapping photos of their homes, and decided it wasn’t going to happen.

The angry mob stopped just short of bringing their own pitchforks, but managed to block the driver, and then chase him away.

Of course, the whole thing could have been done to prevent anyone in the town showing up on Google doing something stupid.