The Belgian ministry of defence is to bring a legal complaint against internet giant Google over its practice of refusing to blur certain sites of the ministry on its satellite photos on Google Maps and Google Earth. In theory, Google will respond to private requests asking for private addresses, car number plates and even individuals to be blurred on the Street View application of its Google Maps software. The decision is in keeping with Belgian privacy laws.
The same measures are also available to military sites such as the Nato headquarters in Evere and the air-base at Kleine-Brogel in Limburg, the nuclear power stations at Doel and Tihange, and oil installations at the port of Antwerp.
Two years ago, however, the government asked Google to anonymise certain military sites, but without success to date. “Given that we’ve had no success, we’re about to file a complaint,” a spokesperson for the defence ministry said.
Google normally makes a practice of anonymising car registration numbers and people on the street as a matter of course, simple my pixelating any identifying characteristics. Even house numbers can be blurred on request.