Technology giant Google will dispatch a car to Malta's streets to start shooting street-level images, a service which has stirred privacy issues in some countries.

Street View is a hugely popular feature of Google Maps which was launched in May 2007 and is currently available across 77 countries. It allows users to virtually explore and navigate a neighbourhood through panoramic street-level images.

Google said today it plans to start driving in Valletta, and will soon expand to other cities and villages. In total, it is planned to cover as much as possible of the road network starting from Monday and running until the end of October. Driving schedules often depend on various factors like weather and road closures. Permanent updates on Street View car locations as well as general information about Street View will be provided on website as soon as driving starts.

It is planned to cover as much as possible of the road network starting from Monday and running until the end of October

Images collected will be processed and carefully stitched together, a technological process that can take several months. Users will be able to explore the imagery at a later date on Google Maps.

The service has stirred issues of privacy in other countries. Last June, India's interior ministry said it had rejected an application from the tech giant citing security concerns. In 2009, hundreds of pictures from the UK's Google's then new Street View service have been removed after concerns were voiced about invasion of privacy.

Google applies state-of-the-art technology to help identify and blur individual faces and licence plates on any imagery before it is made public. Once Street View imagery is available online, users can ask for further blurring.

Reporting an issue can be done by just clicking or tapping 'Report a problem' in the bottom-right of the image window or in Google Maps app, from the flag or menu buttons.

Incidentally, the service made the headlines earlier today, after Google’s street view cameras protected the privacy of a cow in Cambridge by blurring its face out.

The animal was photographed by the Google street view camera on a towpath at Coe Fen, in Cambridge. However, the software which is programmed to blur out human faces appears to have mistakenly given a passing cow the treatment.


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