Google Street View fails to blur face of woman caught on camera urinating in alleyway in Almere, Netherlands

The search giant has since blurred the woman out of its Street View altogether

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The Independent Online

Google has been forced to step in and censor its Street View service after it inadvertently captured images of a woman in a compromising position.

The pictures were taken this year along a small side street in Almere, near Amsterdam, and showed an unidentified woman relieving herself in an alleyway.

It’s unclear how long the uncensored images were live on Street View, but Google has now blurred out the woman entirely after her exposure was featured in a post on the LiveLeak website.

This is not the first time Google’s cameras have captured something they didn’t intend to – in March this year, a woman was arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour for flashing one of the search giant’s Street View cars.

Last year, a pair of Edinburgh mechanics sparked a brief furore by staging a prank “axe murder” while a Google car was passing by. Manager Dan Thompson, 56, told The Independent at the time that it “seemed like the obvious thing to do” when they saw the car coming.

And in 2013, a Google Earth image appearing to show a bloody murder scene was the subject of intense speculation on the message board website Reddit.

Bizarrely also taking place in Almere, Netherlands, the “murder” was later discovered to have been caused by a soggy dog leaving a trail of water that resembled blood.

While such stories are generally no more than a bit of fun, the omnipresence of Google’s cameras does raise some serious privacy issues.

Google says it has technology to automatically blur out details that may compromise a person’s privacy such as “an identifiable face or identifiable licence plate”.

Yet in the case of the woman in Almere – who might conceivably want to remain anonymous – that blurring had not taken place from some angles.

Google says it will only blur a whole person “when requested”. It is unclear whether in this case Google acted on a request or after seeing the LiveLeak report, and a spokesperson for Google was not immediately available for comment.