• Kyodo News


A government advisory panel has determined that the Street View Internet service would be consistent with the personal information protection law if Google takes appropriate measures, such as blurring identifiable images, including faces, officials said.

It is the first time the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has expressed an opinion on the legality of the Google service, which provides closeup, 360-degree color photographs of city streets taken by cameras mounted on moving vehicles.

The decision is effectively a rejection of requests by dozens of municipal assemblies nationwide — including in the Tokyo suburb of Machida and Ikoma, Nara Prefecture — that adopted resolutions calling on the government to place curbs on the service.

The ministry will release its final conclusion, possibly by August, after soliciting views from the public, the officials said.

The advisory panel said even if the exterior appearances of homes and license plate numbers are photographed, they alone “would not enable viewers to identify” the respective owners.

Therefore, images of homes and license plates “don’t constitute personal information.”

“Most of the service would not be illegal as long as appropriate measures, such as blurring (of identifiable images) are taken,” it said, responding to allegations that the service would give rise to breaches of privacy and portrait rights.

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