Google Street view: launch in Ireland 'not imminent'

Irish techno-geeks may have to wait yet another year for Google's much-hyped Street View initiative after the company admitted a launch in Ireland is "not imminent". Although Google representatives spent more than a week last year driving through Dublin and filming local streets, the company confirmed to the Sunday Tribune that the images would not be seen any time soon. "Google hopes to launch Street View in Ireland in future," a spokeswoman said. "However, no definitive launch date is available at present."

The delay follows a number of privacy concerns which saw the European Union last week urge Google to "overhaul" the way it stores personal information. Although the faces of those filmed by Google are blurred out by the company, as are details such as car registration numbers, the company still retains the images in its records.

The EU ruled that this was in contravention of data protection legislation because such images must not be kept longer than six months. However, Google argues that it needs to hold on to the photos for a year in case its software accidentally blurs the wrong part of an image and it needs to be replaced.

Last March, the firm employed dozens of specially-designed cars to circle cities such as Dublin and Cork, photographing each of the streets.

The firm has now been told to provide more information to residents about when the camera cars will be traversing their area, giving them more of a chance to avoid the cameras.

According to a spokeswoman for the company: "Street View has a variety of practical uses. If you are moving house or relocating, users can save time by exploring properties and their surrounding area in advance."

At present, Street View covers cities and rural areas in the UK, New Zealand, Japan, France, Italy, Spain and Australia.