"Our business priority is to use our Google cars to collect data such as street names and road signs to improve our basic maps for our users in a similar way that other mapping companies do," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. The search giant doesn't plan to take down its Street View photos for the 20 German cities it has already photographed, but it won't update those photos nor will it expand the service to more cities.
Google has not explained why its stance has changed. Street View saw a huge privacy opposition in Germany almost immediately after Google announced it was coming to the European country. After lengthy negotiations with German officials, Google eventually agreed to let German residents opt-out of having their houses and buildings appear online, and nearly 250,000 Germans chose to do just that. The result is many blurred buildings on Street View in Germany.
Nevertheless, we still find this recent decision a very surprising move from Google as the company has always strived to expand its various services to countries worldwide. Even when the company faces lawsuits and privacy complaints, it typically fights them and occasionally adjusts its product accordingly. We can't remember the last time Mountain View decided to stop maintaining one of its services as well. Then again, this decision may not be final.