Google street view of Gordon Brown's home to be blacked out

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INTERNET giants Google have been forced into blacking out details of former PM Gordon Brown’s home from its controversial Street View mapping service.

They acted within days of Mr Brown’s security team being tipped off on detailed images showing security cameras and even armed guards patrolling at the rural property in Fife

A Street View image of his Fife home clearly showed armed police patrolling the garden, pinpointing the location for online snoopers.

The pictures also allowed detailed examination of the gate and other security measures at the property, where Brown’s children now live since switching schools from London to Scotland.It is believed that when Fife Constabulary was made aware of the images they contacted Google and asked for them to be removed.

Google has been at the centre of a storm over its Street View feature, which allows internet users to study three-dimensional, photographic images of almost every street in Britain.

It has emerged the firm unwittingly collected huge amounts of private data from unsecured wireless networks as it photographed the Street View images around the UK.

Following privacy concerns, the service now uses software to automatically blur people’s faces and car registrations.

But when the Google car passed Brown’s home, it unwittingly captured an image that potentially compromised the security of the former Prime Minister and his young family.

It clearly showed two armed and uniformed police officers, patrolling side-by-side. Both appeared to be carrying holstered pistols. One had a weapon slung over his shoulder and is carrying a bag. The other was carrying a rifle.

The original picture also allowed internet snoopers to zoom in and examine in fine detail the access to Brown’s home, including the gate, entry phone, and CCTV systems.

Street View is now completely blacked out at this point. The screen simply states that the image has been removed.

Brown is a potential terrorist target simply because of his status as a former Prime Minister.

But his support for the 2003 Iraq invasion when he was Chancellor in Tony Blair’s government has made him an even more tempting target for extremists.

Concern over the issue is particularly high since it was made public that Brown had decided to move his two children from their London schools and enrol them in a local primary.

The location of the property, which is backed by a mixture of open land and woods, also gives security teams a headache.

It is understood that two armed police are on round-the-clock guard at Brown’s home.

Neighbours are used to seeing a pair of armed officers on foot patrol in the street and the grounds of his home.

When they are not on foot patrol, the team use a marked police vehicle to tour the roads in and around the North Queensferry manse house, looking for signs of potential trouble.

Google said they do not comment on “any individual removal request”.

The company added: “Street View only contains imagery that is already visible from public roads and features technology that blurs both faces and car number plates.

“Google provides the easily accessible report a problem tool for flagging inappropriate or sensitive imagery for review and removal – that includes giving users the choice to remove themselves, their car or their house completely from Street View if they like.” 

A company insider added: “Street View images are taken from public roads and reflect a moment in time from when the car was passing.”

A Fife Constabulary spokesperson said: “Fife Constabulary do not discuss security matters in respect of Rt Honourable Dr Gordon Brown MP.” 

A spokesman for Gordon Brown said they would not discuss the issue of his security.

REPORT: Peter Laing

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