Google launches Street View service

Google has been criticised over its plans to expand its street-level imaging service which will cover an extra 210,000 miles of detailed mapping.

The company's Street View service will be extended to provide users with 360-degree pictures of more than 95% of UK roads.

The service has been available since last March in 25 cities, but critics fear the detailed street-level information could be used by criminals.

The images of pedestrianised areas were gathered with Google's tricycle, including the banks of Loch Ness and Stonehenge. A car fitted with special panoramic cameras on its roof captured the rest.

Google has taken steps to preserve anonymity. Its technology automatically blurs number plates and faces and users can ask for their homes or cars to be removed.

Google believes the service will be a boost for UK businesses, which can embed its maps into their own sites for free. For example, a bed and breakfast owner can promote the local area by offering potential customers a virtual stroll through its streets.

The launch means the UK will catch up with other European countries - such as Spain, France, and Italy - which already boast nationwide coverage.

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