Fred Goodwin's house removed from Google Street View

The ex-RBS chief's house, as well as those of his direct neighbors, is no longer directly visible on the mapping service

The former RBS boss Fred Goodwin's home has disappeared from Google Street View, just weeks after the search company acquiesced to a European ruling granting users the "right to be forgotten". The ex-banker's house in Edinburgh can no longer be directly viewed on Google's street-level mapping service, although the rest of the street remains accessible.

Google says that Street View contains "imagery from public roads that is no different from what you might see driving or walking down the street", and automatically blurs faces and licence plates to protect privacy. It also allows privacy-conscious users to request "further blurring" of a specific image "that features the user, their family, their car or their home," or inappropriate content such as nudity or violence.

However, the company does not have publicly accessible forms for requesting the wholesale removal of imagery.

Google declined to comment on the story, but the Guardian understands that fingers are pointed internally to a bug relating to the company's recently released feature letting users look at historic street view images. As those new images are uploaded, occasionally whole tiles of imagery can be blanked out.

Lest it seem too much of a coincidence that Goodwin's house is contained with in one of those tiles, the bug can apparently be triggered by requests to blur features, which may have happened here. If that is the case, the former banker's home should appear back on Google Maps in the immediate future.

Previously, users had been able to see Goodwin's home directly, despite vandalism in 2009 when the executive's bay windows were smashed. The windows of a Mercedes S600 on the property were also shattered in the attack.

Shortly after, Goodwin purchased a less easily accessible house in the suburb of Colinton, for £3.5m. But after allegations that he had cheated on his wife, Joyce, the couple separated, and she is reportedly living in the new house, leaving Goodwin in the previous home.

In May, a ruling in the European court of justice granted citizens of the EU the "right to be forgotten", requiring companies like Google to abide by data protection regulations that allow users to remove information that is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed".

Soon after, Google made available a web form that allowed users to automatically request the removal of such results, and at least 12,000 people applied in the first 24 hours after it offered the service. But it is unconfirmed whether the ruling would in fact apply in this situation, as the imagery of the road is not "inadequate, irrelevant … or excessive".



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