Although a formal launch is planned for this weekend, Google’s Street View imagery for Israel is already online. It marks the first time Google has put street photographs online from any Middle Eastern country.
Shown above is a screenshot of the Wailing Wall (also called the Western Wall) in Jerusalem, one of the city’s most sacred sites.
Plans to bring Street View to Israel have been the subject of great discussion — and some controversy — for more than a year. In early 2011, Israeli government officials met with Google and concluded that allowing Street View images online would be good for tourism and the country’s image.
Others disagreed, saying it would help terrorists find new targets. Palestinian militants had previously admitted to using Google Earth to plan rocket strikes inside Israel.
But after months of discussion, and a public poll in which 70 percent of respondents supported Street View imagery, the Israeli government gave Google the go-ahead last August, but with four conditions:
1. Israel will be able to initiate any civil legal challenges against Google inside Israel, even though the Street View data will be hosted outside the country.
2. Google won’t challenge the authority of Israel’s Law, Information and Technology Authority to initiate criminal or administrative challenges if Google violates state law.
3. Google will give the public a way to request additional blurring of images (beyond Google’s normal level of blurring) after the images are published online.
4. Google must use online and offline channels to inform the public about the Street View service, the right to ask for additional blurring and its planned driving routes. Google’s Street View cars must also be clearly marked so the public can identify them.