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Privacy group demands Street View investigation

Complaint sent to Information Commissioner

Google is being urged by Privacy International to withdraw its controversial Street View service from the UK.

The campaign group has complained to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) about the service, an add-on to Google Maps and Google Earth, which was launched in the UK last week. It offers photographs of 22,369 miles of UK streets in 25 cities including London, Leeds and Manchester.

When it launched in the US in May 2007, the service came under scrutiny by privacy campaigners. As a result Google said it would blur out the faces of any members of the general public that feature in the images.

However, the complaint from Privacy International details around 200 images that features faces that have not been blurred out. Director of the organisation Simon Davis said in the complaint the service has the caused "clear embarrassment and damage" for a number of Brits.

"We're asking for the system to be switched off while an investigation is completed," said Davis.

Google told the BBC: "Before launching Street View we sought the guidance and approval of the independent and impartial Information Commissioner's Office. The ICO has repeatedly made clear that it believes that in Street View the necessary safeguards are in place to protect people's privacy".

"Of course, if anyone has concerns about the product or its images they can contact us and we look forward to hearing from them," the search engine added.

Last week, Google revealed that it had to kill a number of images on Street View after members of the public complained they were inappropriate. The images included a man wearing antlers being sick outside a pub and people being arrested.

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