September 30, 2010, 9:38 PM — It's official: Google's Street View has now officially reached all seven continents. Google today announced that it has added Brazil, Ireland, and Antarctica to its Street View library, which provides panoramic images of street-level scenes from locations around the world. It's a major milestone for Google's three-and-a-half year old service, but it's not one that will be universally celebrated, as Street View is now (and has been, almost since its launch) under fire for its alleged privacy violations and data collection practices.
What Is Street View, Anyway?
Privacy concerns aside, Street View is pretty darn cool. By sending an army of drivers in special camera-equipped cars out to cruise the world's roads, Google was able to compile panoramic, 360-degree images of locations around the world. You can switch to Street View from within Google Maps, so you can see exactly what a place looks like without having visited.
And the Backlash Begins
It didn't take long for the backlash against Street View to begin. Many people soon discovered that their faces were easily identifiable in Street View, and not everyone was too happy about the fact that whatever they were doing at the time the Google car happened by was now recorded on the Internet for perpetuity -- especially one man caught exiting a strip club, and another woman sunbathing. Google promised it would obey all applicable privacy laws and allowed people to contact them in order to have their images removed.
But the trouble didn't end there. As the service spread overseas, so, too, did the complaints. As Street View launched in the U.K., Japan, and Greece, the privacy complaints mounted. The same thing happened when Street View hit the Netherlands and when Google tried to launch it in Germany.