Google Street View creates security fears in Botswana

google  donjd2A Google street view cab which is used to photograph locations. (Image source: donjd2/Flickr)Opinion makers and legislators in Botswana have raised a number of security concerns after Google activated its Street View project in the southern African country

Google Street View has the capacity to allow users to take a virtual tour of the country's roads. Botswana has become the second African country where Google has launched the service after South Africa where it was launched just before it hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The project has raised concerns about invasion of privacy and jeopardising of national security.

An editorial in Botswana’s Monitor newspaper opined, “We feel such places as the military base and the office of the President, the American embassy and any other such high-security areas should not have been allowed to be published as this compromises our security.”

Botswana government officials have dismissed the complaints, with spokesperson Jeff Ramsay commenting, “Google is working with our security people on a checklist of what to photograph and what not to photograph. If anything falls between the cracks, our people have a right to remove it.”

Google has said it uses face-blurring and licence plate blurring to protect people’s privacy in Street View. It added that if images were available, users could report images for removal by clicking on “report a problem” on the bottom left hand corner of the image.

Google had announced plans to map out Botswana through the Street View mapping project earlier in the year, but the project was delayed due to political hold ups and technical glitches.

Ory Okolloh, sub-Saharan Africa policy manager for Google, said, “Whether you are planning a safari, doing a homework assignment on Botswana, or promoting your local business, Street View will allow you to experience a slice of Botswana. We hope to add more cultures, landscapes and sites, as Street View continues to expand its services.”

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