Google launches Street View

Internet giant Google has launched its sometime controversial Street View service, which has raised concerns about individual privacy, in the UK -- giving users a 3D view of thousands of streets across Britain.

Street View stitches together photos taken by specially modified cars fitted with cameras, which have been collecting the images across the UK for almost a year.

The service has initially launched in 25 UK cities, including Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle.

Google rolled out Street View in the US two years ago and it is now available in many countries, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France and Spain.

Tourism agency VisitBritain teamed up with Google to create a visual guide within Street View, highlighting sights in cities such as London and Edinburgh, which are then linked to VisitBritain's website, which contains more information on each destination.

VisitBritain said the partnership with Google Street View is part of its strategy to ensure visitors are enticed to come to Britain.

Justin Reid, head of online marketing at VisitBritain, said: "We're very excited to be working with Google on the launch of Street View in the UK.

"The internet is an incredibly rich resource for raising awareness of destinations, driving travel to and around Britain.

"Street View is a real opportunity for us to showcase our destinations to millions worldwide.

"Seeing some of our globally-renowned attractions -- a mix of old and new -- up close, could inspire many more people to visit our shores."

Last month Google won a court case against an American couple who tried to sue the internet giant over claims that its Street View technology invaded their privacy.

Aaron and Christine Boring accused Google of privacy violation, for showing their home in its Street View feature. They were seeking $25,000 (£17,700) in damages.

However, they had their claim thrown out by judge Amy Reynolds Hay, who concluded they could not prove they had suffered as a result of having their home displayed.

Separately, US privacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic) has called on the US Federal Trade Commission to consider shutting down Google's web services until it establishes safeguards for protecting confidential information.

Epic said in a 15-page complaint that Google did not adequately protect the data it obtained through "cloud computing services" (services such as email and word processing enabled online in a web browser).

The group is calling for an injunction, investigation or other action into Google's data protection levels.

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