Google Street View cars banned in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic's chief data privacy watchdog has turned down an application by Google to send its mapping cars out on to the country's roads to collect data for the search giant's Street View service.

Street View allows users to explore Google Maps using photographs taken at street level. The service was launched in a number of Eastern European countries last year.

The dispute between Google and officials of the Czech Republic's Office for Personal Data Protection or 'Úřad pro Ochranu Osobních Údajů' (UOOU) concerns the censorship of Street View images.

At present, Czech authorities require Google to blur the faces of any individuals captured on camera by its Street View cars.

The issue splitting the two sides is whether or not the US company should also be made to blur out car registration plates and the fronts of buildings to protect privacy.

Speaking to Dow Jones Newswires today, UOOU spokesperson Hana Stepankova explained the ban.

"We've completed an administrative action which turned down Google's request to register as an entity allowed to collect private and personal data," she said, adding: "Google has requested to hold more talks on the matter with [UOOU]."

The Czech watchdog's decision follows concerns over Street View in a number of countries including Germany, Spain and the UK, relating to the unauthorised collection of traffic data from unprotected wireless networks. The search giant was cleared of any wrongdoing by the UK Information Commissioner's Office in July.

Czech authorities are set to release more detailed information at a news conference in Prague, scheduled for 22nd September.