Google will continue to take pictures of the streets of Britain and put them online for its controversial Street View mapping service, the head of Google Maps told The Times.

John Hanke said the feature was already widely used in the U.K. and dismissed concerns that it might help burglars plan where to strike. The company plans to provide coverage of most of the country by the end of next year.

At the offices of Google Maps and Earth in Mountain View, Silicon Valley, Hanke said: "We know it is really popular and people are using it broadly and I am totally convinced that they are not all using it to plan robberies. I tend to think that societies like ours come down on the side of information being good for the economy and good for us as individuals."

Google Street View, which was introduced in Britain last month, gives 360-degree views of big cities at street level, allowing people to take virtual tours from their computers or mobile phones.

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