Secret feature lets users unblur Street View photos
Thursday, 1st April 2010 by James Turnbull
After strong criticism from campaign groups, Google today caved under the pressure and announced the ability to request removal of the face-blurring on Street View images.
Google blurs certain elements of Street View images, including license plates and detectable faces, to protect the identities of those photographed on the street. However, due to a loophole in the Freedom of Information Act, Google must now provide users a system to un-blur the images upon request.
The un-blurred images can be accessed by clicking “Request original image” on the street view you are interested in. The process can take up to 24 hours, but we’ve already managed to unblur this image of a man leaving a sex shop.
In a surprise change-of-tune, privacy campaigners welcomed the move. A spokesperson for campaign group Free Our Own Liberties said that “many people have contacted us asking how they can un-blur faces of cheating husbands, slacking workers, and local hooligans”, he continued “these images were taken on the street, in public, so there is no legal requirement for Google to blur the faces”.