MOUNTAIN VIEW - Google on Tuesday morning introduced the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia to its popular Street View feature on Google Maps. It covers nearly all streets in the two countries after they were photographed over the last year.
Google Street View, which provides panoramic views at street level, is currently available in more than 30 countries around the world. Other countries in the region, such as Norway, Sweden, Finland and parts of Poland, were already available and plans are underway to introduce the service in more countries.
"Driving around in cars last summer, the Street View images have now been taken up by Google Maps," said Google AdWords Community Specialist Karl Pae in a blog post on Tuesday. The images in Estonia were made by geospatial mapping company Regio, which began photographing the country last summer and finished in April.
"We are very excited about launching Street View in Estonia. Street View makes the beautiful streets and locations of that wonderful country available to users all over the world," Google Street View program manager Ulf Spitzer told Internet magazine The Baltic Course. "From now on, all Estonians and also Estonian companies can enjoy the many benefits of the service."
Google Street View has repeatedly raised privacy issues when the service was added in new countries, but Google said it is committed to protect privacy and comply with all local laws. Google will blur the faces of people and license plates to avoid identification, and people will be able to submit complaints if they believe photos are violating people's privacy or violating the law.
Among controversial photos discovered by Internet users on Tuesday was a photo of a naked boy who could be seen leaving a nude beach with a woman near Skulte, northeast of the Estonian capital of Riga. The photo was not blurred and still available on early Wednesday. The addition of new countries to Street View usually results in a series of controversial photos being found by its users.
Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V.