Every 12 months, Google currently has to drive around all the places that it's snapped on Street View and re-take the photos, but under new instructions from the EU, that could be cut down to half as much - just 6 months.

The reason is data privacy. The EU's Article 29 Data Protection Working Party has told Google that 12 months is a "disproportionate" amount of time to be keeping pictures of miscellaneous members of the public, and that it was "concerned that Street View continues to give rise to data-protection issues".

Google was also ordered to give people more notice when their streets were to be photographed. "Google needs to raise much more awareness of Street View cars going through people's streets as there is an option to opt out of appearing in them but no one knows about it", said Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding's office.

Google hit back, however, with lawyer Peter Fleischer saying: "The need to retain the unblurred images is legitimate and justified - to ensure the quality and accuracy of our maps, to improve our ability to rectify mistakes in blurring, as well as to use the data we have collected to build better maps products for our users".

He added: "We have publicly committed to a retention period of 12 months from the date on which images are published on Street View, and this is the period which we will continue to meet globally".