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Google retires Street View from Germany

Despite finally reaching an agreement with German authorities over its mobile snooping vehicles, Google has decided to cease its Street View information gathering activities in that country - effective immediately.

Although the advertising giant got the German authorities on-side by introducing the option for householders to remove their property from Google Street View, the company has decided not to risk further legal troubles - and will now cease all Street View-related activity in that country.

The reason for the decision - which applies only to Germany, with other countries seeing the snoop-mobiles taking panoramic snapshots as normal - is not yet known. A spokesperson for Google told Search Engine Land that "our business priority is to use our Google cars to collect data such as street names and road signs to improve our basic maps for our users in a similar way that other mapping companies do."

Street View imagery will remain up for the 20 German cities Google was able to snap before deciding enough is enough, but the company has confirmed that no new cities will be added, and the existing images will not be updated.

Given that Google's addition of an opt-out function saw a record number of German citizens request removal from the company's Street View database - an estimated 244,000 households requested removal during the first weeks the option was made available - it's clear that Germany isn't impressed with the technology. What isn't clear, however is why other countries aren't taking as tough a stance against the company.

Google's decision to remove itself from the German take-photos-of-people's-houses market comes just days after Microsoft announced plans to introduce a similar service - dubbed Streetside - in the country.