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Microsoft pulls Streetside off German streets

No fun, no autobahn
Wed May 23 2012, 14:59
A Microsoft logo

REDMOND SOFTWARE HOUSE Microsoft has taken its online Streetside service out of Germany following opposition from the local population.

The firm faced a barrage of criticism from German users who were given a period to object to the service by the local data protection agency last year. Enough of them complained direct to Microsoft to force changes, that is, a swift withdrawal.

Microsoft is playing catchup with its service that followed the appearance of Google's Streetview and launched Streetside in Europe in April of last year.

Then the firm said that it would take privacy seriously. "We took the decision to postpone WiFi data collection. We'd like to do it the right way, privacy is imbued in everything we do," said Streetside director of search Dave Coplin.

Microsoft does seem to have worked closely with the Bavarian data watchdog, and together they worked out a compromise system where things like panoramic images, faces and number plates were blurred out. Complaints could be sent to Microsoft if users discovered something that was personal to them and not pixelated.

Today Microsoft announced that it has taken the service down in Germany following a number of complaints.

"We have learned that there are a limited number of customers in Germany who have raised concerns about their blurring requests," said Thomas Baumgärtner, a spokesperson for Microsoft Germany.

"As we take privacy and data protection of our customers very seriously, we decided to take down the Streetside Beta service in Germany, while evaluating these individual cases and working on a solution." µ


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