France’s government has asked Google to blur all images of French prisons from the web following a helicopter jailbreak earlier this year.
Notorious killer Redoine Faid, 46, known as the “jailbreak king” due to his numerous times on the run, escaped from a prison near Paris in July when accomplices hijacked a helicopter and flew it into the courtyard.
Justice minister Nicole Belloubet asked Google to remove all images of prisons – including the Reau prison from which Faid escaped – from its services.
Ms Belloubet complained that although she had written to the web giant to request the removal of details regarding sensitive facilities, no action had been taken and aerial shots remained on its services.
“It’s not normal that photos of security buildings such as our prisons are out there on the internet,” the justice minister complained in an interview on the RTL radio station.
“I’ve written to Google asking for action to remove [photos of] these penitentiary sites but nothing has happened so far. I may have to ask to meet the people I wrote to,” she said.
The Ministry of Justice confirmed to Sky News that it was seeking blurring (“floutage”) of images of prisons from all of Google’s web services, including Maps, Earth, and Image Search.
The spokesperson told Sky News that they sent a letter to Google France in July requesting this, and received a response in August that Google was working with third party suppliers (“fournisseurs”) to get the blurring put in place.
A spokesperson for the web giant told Reuters that the Google Maps and Google Earth services used images provided by external suppliers.
“We have given our suppliers a list of sensitive locations and asked them to take the necessary steps as soon as possible to conform with the law,” the spokesman added.
Google did not respond to Sky News’ enquiries about whether similar steps were being taken to protect sensitive facilities in the UK.
The Ministry of Justice’s complaint is the latest indication of conflict between European authorities and Google on the the contents of its search results.
Google is currently fighting a record fine of €2.4bn (£2.2bn) for using Search to give its own online shopping service an illegal advantage.
An investigation by Sky News published last week raised questions about the company’s efforts to meet the terms of that fine.
In September, France’s data protection regulator took Google to the European Court of Justice in a bid to assert its ability to force the company to de-list search results globally, and not just under the .fr domain. A judgment is expected in early 2019.
Last month, Home Secretary Sajid Javid called out Google during a press conference on tackling online child abuse and called on it to “do a lot, lot more” to protect children.
He said of the industry as a whole: “I’m not just asking for change, I’m demanding it,” and accused “some companies out there” of refusing “to take this [issue] seriously”, adding: “I will not be afraid to take action.”
Ms Belloubet was interviewed about Faid who was recaptured last week during a raid on an apartment block in his hometown of Creil.
He was sleeping when police entered and did not resist arrest, said officials.
Faid’s brother as well as two other men and a woman were also detained in the operation north of Paris which involved about 50 police, including elite officers.
He had been serving a 25 year sentence for a botched heist in 2010 during which a policewoman was killed as he escaped.