SOFTWARE OUTFIT Microsoft is following Google's Street View cars by rolling out a competing service.
Microsoft's service, unimaginably dubbed Street Side, is already out in the US but Microsoft is extending it to Europe with its cars out now taking snaps of London. Microsoft intends to follow up in other major European cities next month.
But Microsoft doesn't want to find itself involved in the privacy issue brouhaha that embroiled Google's Street View service after the search giant hoovered up personal data from unencrypted wireless networks.
The world came down on Google like a ton of bricks, resulting in apologies to the US and major European and Asian countries, including a €100,000 fine for Google in France over Street View.
According to the BBC, Microsoft wants to avoid the privacy problems that hit Google and is rolling out Street Side on a smaller scale.
"We're not setting out to record every street. We believe it is most valuable in urban centres where people want to find services," Street Side director of search, Dave Coplin told the Beeb.
But it might not be that easy because, like Google, Microsoft still wants to identify location based services. It was collecting data for geo location mapping that got Google into trouble when it "accidentally" harvested the payload data from unencrypted wireless networks.
Even if Microsoft is rolling out Street Side on a smaller scale, that doesn't automatically mean it won't have the same problem when it is collecting location-based data. Microsoft said it will collect less data but, in the meantime, has simply postponed the issue.
"We took the decision to postpone WiFi data collection. We'd like to do it the right way," said Coplin before adding, "privacy is imbued in everything we do." µ