GoogleMaps Streetview Silliness: A Double Bill
From The Independent 21/03/09:
The Internet giant Google has been forced to remove dozens of images from Street View, its controversial mapping service, after complaints from users who felt it breached their privacy.
After launching in Britain on Thursday the service, which gives 360-degree three-dimensional views of 25 of Britain's biggest cities, immediately drew criticism from people objecting to invasions of privacy and offensive imagery.
Among the images pulled within the first 24 hours – even though faces were blurred – are a man vomiting on the pavement in Shoreditch High Street, east London, another man in shorts and T-shirt entering a sex shop in Soho, and a man being arrested behind a security cordon in Camden, north London.
"When we launched the service, we explained how importantly we take the service and explained how easy it is to remove pictures. We have received a few removals in the past 24 hours but less than expected," he said. "The tools are there for users to remove pictures they are not happy with. We are pleased the tools we developed are working well."
Okay. I don’t ‘get’ the problem here. Google seem to have taken a wholly proportionate and responsible approach, balancing the need for the usefulness of the service to continue while respecting people’s ‘right’ to privacy – such as it is. On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between being snapped by the ‘Google car’ and inadvertently being caught in the frame of someone’s holiday shot on a street somewhere. Let’s remember, the chances of you being caught on camera by the ‘Google Car’ are relatively miniscule and even then, the likelihood that you’re recognisable is even less. In the unlikely event that you are – and you have a problem with it – Google offer a means of resolving the problem by obscuring your identity. So, seriously: what more can they do?
For my money, I think there’s a certain amount of truth behind the notion that a person will only be bothered about this kind of thing if they were somewhere (or doing something) they shouldn’t have been.
From Outlaw.com 19/03/09:
A privacy campaigner will launch a legal challenge to Google's Street View service, which was launched today. Simon Davies of Privacy International says that he will pursue "a test case" against Google.
"There still hasn't been a formal complaint put to the Information Commissioner, but we will [file one] now on the basis of prior consent being needed for this service," said Davies. "I think there is something of a test case in this. We are arguing that a line has to be drawn to empower the individual to make a conscious decision whether to allow his or her images on to such a system."
The UK's privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) endorsed the service last summer.
"We are satisfied that Google is putting in place adequate safeguards to avoid any risk to the privacy or safety of individuals, including the blurring of vehicle registration marks and the faces of anyone included in Street View images," said an ICO statement.
Err, yes, Simon Davies. Good luck with that.