Secret feature lets users unblur Street View photos

Thursday, 1st April 2010 by

After strong criticism from campaign groups, Google today caved under the pressure and announced the ability to request removal of the face-blurring on Street View images.

Google blurs certain elements of Street View images, including license plates and detectable faces, to protect the identities of those photographed on the street. However, due to a loophole in the Freedom of Information Act, Google must now provide users a system to un-blur the images upon request.

Oxford City Council refused to comment about this un-blurred image of a man who can clearly be seen swearing at the camera.

The un-blurred images can be accessed by clicking "Request original image" on the street view you are interested in. The process can take up to 24 hours, but we've already managed to unblur this image of a man leaving a sex shop.

An unnamed man is seen leaving a shop named adultworld with a highly suspicious plastic carrier bag.

In a surprise change-of-tune, privacy campaigners welcomed the move. A spokesperson for campaign group Free Our Own Liberties said that "many people have contacted us asking how they can un-blur faces of cheating husbands, slacking workers, and local hooligans", he continued "these images were taken on the street, in public, so there is no legal requirement for Google to blur the faces".

In case you haven't worked it out yet, this was an April fools!