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India IT hub orders Google to suspend Street View service

A camera used for Google street view is pictured at the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover
A camera used for Google street view is pictured at the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover

By Henry Foy

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Google Inc has been ordered by city police to suspend its "Street View" service in the Indian IT hub of Bangalore, the company said on Tuesday, in the latest setback to its global mapping project that has been hit by privacy fears.

The technology giant has sent a fleet of cars around the globe to capture millions of images used with maps as part of its panoramic Street View service, but faces regulatory challenges from authorities across the world on data protection concerns.

"We received a letter from the commissioner of police regarding Street View. We are currently reviewing it and have stopped our cars until we have a chance to answer any questions or concerns the police have," Google said in a statement.

The commissioner of police declined to elaborate on the reasons for the letter when contacted by Reuters.

Bangalore is the leading IT hub in Asia's third-largest economy, where Google employs thousands nationwide and where global technology giants such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Intel also have offices.

Google began collecting images three weeks ago in Bangalore, the first Indian city targeted by Street View.

The company aims to cover all of India with the mapping service, a spokesperson told Reuters.

Regulators across Europe, Canada and Singapore have conducted investigations into the legality of Street View, after Google admitted to U.S. authorities that the vehicles used to take the photographs for the service had also collected personal information such as emails and passwords from unsecured WiFi networks.

France's data protection regulator fined the firm 100,000 euros ($143,650) in March for collecting information from unsecured WiFi networks, while the Czech Republic rejected Google's application to photograph there last September.

($1 = 0.696 Euros)

(Editing by Paul de Bendern and Matt Driskill)