Hundreds of Thousands of Germans Opt Out of Google Street ViewS

A lot of Germans are not happy that Google is about to start mapping their streets for Google Street View. More than 100,000 have taken up Google's offer to obscure their homes on Street View maps.

Der Spiegel reports that it's unclear how many Germans have opted out of Google Street View, but the figure was "in the several hundreds of thousands." (Germans have until October 15th to opt out.) Meanwhile, the launch of the service in Germany has caused widespread debate in the country still haunted by the spectres of Stasi and Nazi surveillance. Legislators are gathering to piece together a federal policy on geographical information services like Street View.

On the one hand, this intense aversion to Street View—really an awesome service!—reflect poorly on Germany's ability to adapt to new technologies. One professor of technology tells the BBC,

Germany has excellent technology for building engines, for example, but it's not a revolution - it's about improving existing knowledge... Only a few German companies have created innovations that are completely new."

And it's especially odd considering that Germans use Google Street View more than any country in which it hasn't been officially launched, according to Der Spiegel. (Probably scoping out their next vacation destination.)

But the intense debate also highlights the utter lack of concern in the US over the increasing amount of information—both geographic and personal—Google controls. (And, sometimes, doesn't control.) Why weren't US citizens given the option to opt-out of Street View before it went up in 2007? And if we were given the option, would anyone care enough to take advantage of it?