The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has given Google's controversial Street Viewsoftware the go-ahead in the UK.

The tool is an add-on to Google Maps and Google Earth that offers photographs of streets and cities. However, many of the photographs feature passers-by who have been caught unawares.

Following a number of concerns over privacy, Google trialled a technique in the US that involved blurring the faces of people by caught in the snaps, but privacy groups including Privacy International continued to campaign against the launch of the software in the UK.

However, the ICO has now said it is "satisfied" that Google has put in place safeguards to avoid risking anyone's privacy or safety.

"Although it is possible that in certain limited circumstances an image may allow the identification of an individual, it is clear that Google is keen to capture images of streets and not individuals," the ICO said.

Google said it "welcomed" the ICO's decision but still would not confirm when the service would go live in the UK.

"We've always said we will not launch in UK until we are comfortable Street View complies with local law and that we will use technology, like face-blurring, licence plate blurring and operational controls, such as image removal tools, so Street View remains useful and in keeping with local norms wherever it is available."

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