If you ever find yourself hovering over Europe on Google Maps (with Google Street View enabled) you may have discovered a funny sight to see. The entire continent of Western Europe is covered in blue lines, except for Germany.
On closer inspection there is indeed areas of Germany that have Google Street View. The clear pattern among all of these patches of blue is that they have so far added all the major cities.
What's equally bizarre is the amount of blurred out buildings in Google Street View itself. On our first dive into a road on Street View we noticed some roads were more blurred boxes than actual image.
As you can see from this 360 in Munich, it's very hard to see what is on the road at all. So what's the reason for this?
The simple answer comes down to Public Privacy laws. In Germany the creative art of photography can cost you up to 2 years in prison if you disobey the rules; unlike places such as the USA where people will record someone without permission at close range if it leads to social media clout. There are much stricter privacy laws in Germany than in the majority of other countries around Europe. In almost all cases, you must acquire permission from anyone that is in the frame of your photographs, even when the focus is not on them.
Here is a helpful link to a website which explains the do's & don'ts of public photography in Germany https://allaboutberlin.com/guides/photography-laws-germany
In terms of Google Street View, public identities and car registration plates are automatically censored to abide by the majority of Public Privacy laws in most countries around the world.
Germany's cities are the only slight acception to the national grid as these are where most international trade and tourism will come to visit, therefore a compromise was made for Germany to accept Street View to assist their international visitors whilst still abiding to their strict laws.
You may have noticed though in our first image that Austria was also left out of Street View exposure. It was only in 2019 that Google was able to gain permission to add the entire country to their archives, whereas our image was captured in 2018.
Other European countries yet to allow Google Street View in include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Moldova, Belarus and Georgia.
As these two countries share the same values in public privacy, perhaps in time Germany will allow for more exposure like their Austrian neighbours.