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Israel eyes Street View amid security, privacy fears

As it considers allowing Google's photo-snapping service, government sees benefits for boosting tourism and enhancing country's image, but worries how it would be used by terrorists.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Israel is considering allowing Google's photo-snapping Street View service into the country, but the government is worried about the privacy and security implications.

A team headed by Israeli Minister Dan Meridor on Monday met to discuss the pros and cons of Street View photographing neighborhoods across Israel, according to a press release. The controversial service is due to launch in Israel soon, the release said.

The government sees benefits in Street View's ability to boost tourism and enhance the country's image. But there are clear concerns as well.

In addition to the usual worries that Street View triggers over privacy, there's also the strong potential for terrorists to use the information to help plot attacks. Experts were invited to the Monday meeting to address fears over both privacy and public security.

No details were released about the specific discussions. But the team is looking to its experts to help address some of the ongoing concerns even as Israel cooperates with Google to start up Street View.

"The ministerial team instructed the experts to work to protect vital public interests regarding this innovative project," the release said. "It was decided that cooperation with Google would continue in order to operate the service in Israel as soon as possible."

Google so far is mum on any role Street View may play in Israel or any discussions it may have with the Israeli government. Responding to a request for comment, a Google spokesperson e-mailed CNET the following statement yesterday:

"Street View is a popular feature of Google Maps which is already available in 27 countries. We aim to offer the benefits of street-level imagery to users all around the world, however, we have nothing specific to announce at this time."

Street View has landed Google in hot water across a number of countries, many of which have complained that snapping photos of local people and streets is an invasion of privacy. Google stirred up more trouble last year when it revealed that Street View accidentally collected private data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.