Google Street View Moves Into Israel, With Conditions

Google’s Street View cars will finally begin cruising the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but it’s the most heavily-regulated launch yet of the popular service.

Israel isn’t the first country to lay conditions on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) before allowing Street View to move forward. Germany insisted that residents be give the option of blurring their homes and businesses before the feature launched, and in Switzerland, a court has held that Street View violates that nation’s privacy laws.

The Israel launch suggests that expanding Street View-and other services like it-may be getting tougher as concerns about online privacy increase globally.

A major concern in Israel is that terrorists could use the Street View service to help plan attacks. Government ministers met with Google over the course of six months to hammer out a series of guidelines that would allow the service to launch without compromising security, according to a report by The Associated Press. a spokesman for the Israeli Intelligence Minister, Dan Meridor, The Associated Press. No details of the security arrangements were disclosed.

Other conditions that Google will have to abide by in Israel include:

»  Street View users in Israel will be offered “an efficient, reliable way to blur images of license plates, places of residence and other objects,” the Justice Ministry told Haaretz.

»  Google had to agree to hear any lawsuits over Street View issues in Israel, and not argue that the case must be moved to the U.S.

»  Google must inform the Israeli public of the routes its cars will take, and that the cars be clearly marked.

A Google Israel spokesman declined to say AFP whether or not the Street View service will cover the Palestinian territories or Jewish settlements in the West Bank.