Google Streetview goes indoors

Updated 4:45pm: Comment from assistant privacy commissioner; NZ among first six countries for indoor photo service

Google is inviting New Zealand businesses to have the interiors of their premises photographed as the company extends its Streetview service indoors. New Zealand is among the first six countries where the Business Photos by Google service has been launched; the others are the United States, Japan, Australia, France and the UK.

Once an application for the service has been accepted, Google says it will advise businesses of a photo shoot date. Approved photographers will then take still photos of a shop’s interior to be loaded onto a company’s Google Places page, and 360-degree panoramas, which will appear on Streetview.

The service is initially being offered in seven cities in New Zealand - Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill, Blenheim and Nelson.

Google says the types of businesses it is interested in include “restaurants, hotels, retail shops, gyms, salons, repair shops”. However Google is “currently not photographing legal, medical, or big brand chain establishments.”

In an attempt to head off privacy issues, Google is advising businesses to “notify customers and employees of the photo shoot by putting up signs and making announcements.” Google is also promising that 360-degree views will be subjected to blurring technology to obscure faces, and still photos will not be published if people are in view.

Assistant privacy commissioner Katrine Evans says she is pleased to see that Google has included privacy protection processes in the service.

“Both employees and the public need to know that photos are being taken, and why, so they can choose not to be photographed. It appears that Google’s processes allow for this. If people's faces are insufficiently blurred, they can ask for additional protection, and photos can be taken down in some circumstances.”

“Particular care will need to be taken in places such as gyms or businesses with a lot of people present.”

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