March 12, 2013 at 1:03 PM ET
Not everyone is happy with Google's updated imagery of Street View in Britain, especially some homeowners in a neighborhood that have had concerns for years about burglaries in the area.
Some residents of suburban Carshalton, south of London, asked Google in 2009 to blur their houses from the Street View. Google complied. But in a recent photographic update of Britain, the houses were back on the popular map that lets viewers see details such as the kind of shrubs and cars outside a home.
Tim Jury was not happy to have his home, or that of an elderly neighbor's, back in view. He told The Telegraph that despite his efforts to contact Google and ask why the houses were not blurred, as they had been, he got no response from the company. Even a trip to Google's London office resulted in his being turned away by a security guard who told him to take the case to the police, he said.
"It’s the sheer arrogance of not responding," he told the newspaper. "I can’t believe an organization like that can’t answer some simple questions."
Jury said he is not exaggerating the residents' concerns. "We had a leaflet from the police a few days ago saying there had been 13 burglaries in the area and people are worried about security."
NBC News contacted Google for comment. The company said, in a statement, "We take the privacy of our users extremely seriously. We automatically blur faces and license plates that appear in Street View, and provide easy to use reporting tools so that people can ask for images of their house, car or themselves to be blurred."
Google did acknowledge that images that "have been blurred following a user’s request should remain blurred when imagery of an area is refreshed."
What's more, "If users notice anything unusual, for example their house reappears after it has been blurred, we encourage them to notify us using the same reporting tool so that we can investigate it promptly," although Jury does not feel that is the way his case was handled.
While most appreciate what Street View is and can do, progress like this can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Last March, a Frenchman from a small village sued Google after its Street View camera captured him urinating in his front yard, something that resulted in his being roundly ridiculed and scorned by townspeople.
And last summer, a judge in Taiwan used Street View to fine a man $2,000 for letting his dog run loose, which resulted in a neighbor's bicycle accident. The Street View photo showed the dog standing in the man's yard, confirming it was his pet.
Updated 1 p.m. ET Tuesday: Britain's Information Commissioner's Office, the country's "privacy watchdog," according to the Telegraph, told NBC News in an emailed statement that it is "reasonable to expect Google to have measures in place so that people who have asked for their house to be removed from Google Street View do not have to send in repeated requests every time the images are updated." If Google is "failing to provide this service, then they should not be surprised when people express their concern."
However, an agency spokesman said, "as a picture of someone's house is not classed as personal information, this would not be covered by the UK Data Protection Act."