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Friday, June 19, 2009

Google Street View Imagery Leads to Arrest

Faces may be blurred in Google Maps Street View but that’s apparently not always enough to protect the identity of the people captured. Reuters reports:

Dutch twin brothers who mugged a teenager in the northern town of Groningen were arrested after being caught on camera by a car gathering images for Google’s online photo map service, police said.

The pair stole the 14-year-old boy’s mobile phone and 165 euros ($230) in cash last September.

“The picture was taken just a moment before the crime,” a police spokesman said.

In March, the victim recognized himself and the two robbers while surfing Google Maps, which has a “Street View” feature allowing users to see images of buildings.

[Thanks Juha-Matti!]

Update: Andries in the forum writes about how apparently Google had the faces in question blurred like usual, but then handed out the unblurred raw material upon being asked by authorities:

I live in the Netherlands, and this story made it to the 20:00-journal on all channels. The story is true, but the crime itself isn’t captured by Google, only the few minutes before. But the images were important, because they didn’t know who committed the crime.

The guy who was robbed only saw the censored version of the pictures on Google Maps. He contacted the police. The Dutch police contacted Google USA, to get the original, uncensored, versions of this pictures.

One of the investigating agents recognised one of the robber’s faces, because he committed a crime before, and the other robber was a brother of the first robber.

I asked Google about a statement and will update should they reply. Also, according to some sources pointed to in the comments, the location is Merwedestraat (I don’t know if this is true and if the screen shows the actual scene).

[Thanks Luca, Andries and Scjm!]


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