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Google doubles Street View coverage

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(Read caption) US coverage by Google Maps Street View.

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Memphis, Maine, Birmingham, Charleston: Google's been watching.

The search giant on Tuesday rolled out the biggest update ever to its mapping feature that lets visitors take a virtual stroll down the Champs Elysees, the National Mall, or their (well, in this case, my) old street.

This update includes parts of some states that hadn't yet gotten the Google treatment, including Maine, West Virginia, and the Dakotas (yes, you can click your way through downtown Fargo, but the pictures were taken in the summertime.)

Besides being fun to play with, the feature makes it easy to get to know an area before going there. Street View was also recently added to the mobile version of Google Maps to enhance driving directions.

But not everyone's a fan. When the site first launched in May 2007, privacy advocates decried the loss of anonymity, and earlier this year a Philadelphia couple sued the company when a photo of their house appeared online. Google blurs easily recognizable faces and license plates, and will take down images at the request of people in them.

Others are embracing the Googlemobiles, waving and sometimes posing when they see the decked out cars cruising through their neighborhood.

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