Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

You can blur out your house or car on Google Street View, but it's permanent

While Street View can be helpful, some people have safety concerns about the feature

The Clock Tower roundabout in Dubai. Courtesy Google
The Clock Tower roundabout in Dubai. Courtesy Google

Google Street View can be a helpful tool when it comes to knowing more about a location.

The technology shows people a selected area, almost anywhere in the world, up close through interactive panoramic images. It can be ideal for people who prefer to use landmarks rather than directions when looking for a location. Sometimes, it offers the additional service of helping users peek into a building, as well.

Street View was launched in 2007 in the US and has since expanded to many other parts of the world, including the UAE, where users can see a street close-up and take a tour of top attractions, such as Burj Khalifa and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

To get the Google Street View images, people on bicycles or in cars with cameras mounted to them drive around and take pictures to document an area. While many users find it useful, others value their privacy more, especially when it comes to appearing on the internet. For example, it’s possible that Street View might capture the colour and make of a car outside a driveway – which can lead to safety concerns.

But luckily, if you’re not comfortable with your home (or your car or an image of yourself) appearing on Street View, you can request to get it blurred out. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to Google Maps and enter your home address
  2. Enter into Street View mode by dragging the small yellow icon of a person on to the map in front of your house
  3. Once the house is in view, click “report a problem” in the bottom right corner of the screen
  4. Centre a red box on your home and select “my home” in the “request blurring” field (other options include a face, my car / a license plate or a different object)
  5. In the provided field, explain why you want the image blurred
  6. Enter your email address and submit

Google says once something is blurred, it is permanent. After hitting submit, you will receive an email stating that Google is reviewing the image that has been reported.

A screenshot of Google Street View of Coe Fen that shows the blurred face of a cow (Courtesy: Google) *** Local Caption *** op18se-google-cow.jpg
A screenshot of Google's Street View of Coe Fen in Cambridge, England, that shows the blurred face of a cow

Google Street View first appeared in the UAE in 2014, with Dubai the first city in the region to offer the panoramic map service. At the time, the service would already blur out people's faces and vehicle license plates and it was not available in private residential areas or free zones. In 2016, to mark the UAE’s 45th National Day, Google launched a 360-degree view of more than 40 Dubai sites, allowing people around the world to take a digital tour of The Dubai Mall, Deira Spice Souq and other landmarks.

Updated: September 14, 2020 11:40 AM

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