Google Street View pays visit to U.K. prime minister

Street-level images of Downing Street, home to the British Prime Minister, get you closer to the seat of power -- and to a rather officious feline.

10 Downing Street, London. Google; Screenshot by Zack Whittaker/CNET

Downing Street, the office and home of the British Prime Minister, has cleared the way for Google to map the famous road at street level. Users of Google Maps can now see the powerhouse of British politics on Street View.

With the Olympics in full swing and as an already packed London continues to swell, the Downing Street gates will remain tightly shut, barring anyone from entering the historic roadway. But anyone with a mobile phone, laptop, tablet or otherwise can check out David Cameron's front door. You don't even need a security pass; you can virtually just walk on by.

While the White House, home of the U.S. president, actually allowed the search-and-maps giant inside to give the general public virtual access to the vast art collection at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the U.K. had been somewhat reluctant to allow in Google's cars until now. The Olympics kicking off on Friday was the perfect time to let the world inside the gates -- though not inside the doors -- of one of the world's most famous streets.

Meanwhile, the U.K.'s privacy watchdog continues to investigate Google over allegations that it didn't delete Street View data as it promised to in 2010 . As Google's street-mapping vehicles passed by, presumably someone at Downing Street made sure the Wi-Fi networks had the encryption switched on.

And as a bonus, a house is a house, but a home is only a home with a cat. And Downing Street has one.

Larry: Chief Mouser to the Treasury Google; Screenshot by Zack Whittaker/CNET

Larry the cat -- the incumbent "Chief Mouser to the Treasury" -- can be found sitting by the front door of No. 10 if you look carefully enough. His job? To catch mice and rats, no less, though he didn't get off to the best of starts. At least he seems to get on with President Obama.

With the U.S. election later this year, it's a shame Larry can't vote. Not because he's a cat, but because he's not American (obviously).

 

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