GoogleMaps Streetview Silliness: A Double Bill

GoogleMaps 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.

Comments

  1. i'm on it - i shall be sending my invoice for the usual fee in a corporate video.
    what use is it exactly???

    ReplyDelete
  2. How can something taped on a public street be a privacy concern? TMZ would be put out of business...

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  3. My friend was 'caught' on this and from what I know he didn't have a problem with it! This is one of the ways in which our world is finally changing towards the 21st century and beyond. I don't see a problem with it myself... if I was found on it I wouldn't be too bothered as my face would be covered anyways!!

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  4. Yeah, it's an absolute joke. The Brits particularly seem to be 'prickly' over privacy issues. Whatever 'rights' might or might not exist to privacy, the basic premise of privacy needs to be reconceptualised in the 'internet age'.

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  5. What does concern me about it is, according to the Independent on Sunday (22 March 2009), the alleged images of children which otherwise having on your computer would lead to a court appearence.

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  6. I think this can be attributed to standard media scaremongering, really. For starters, much would depend on the circumstances in which a person had this on their computer and while merely viewing an indecent image of a child is caught by s1(1)(a) of the Protection of Children Act 1978 (as amended) it is likely they could claim a defence, say, under 160(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. However, whether viewing a GoogleMaps Streetview image which includes a naked child is even caught by those provisions presupposes that it is indecent – essentially a question of fact. A strong analogy can be drawn between this type of thing and holiday snaps on a beach, where young children are often found to be naked and may be caught unintentionally in frame. If the Streetview image was discovered along with other blatantly indecent images, however, we’d be looking at a very different situation.

    In any event, Google have blurred the image in question and will, I suspect, do so for any similar occurrences.

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  7. You may believe "that a person will only be bothered about this kind of thing if they were somewhere (or doing something) they shouldn’t have been."

    Well, that depends on WHO makes the judgement on what you should or shouldn't be doing. For those of us who are lucky enough live in fairly liberal democracies, we don't realise the dangers of surveillance.

    For example:
    Women wearing trousers is OK isn't it? Not in certain countries.
    Women driving cars is not controversial is it? Yes, banned in Saudi Arabia.
    Unmarried women walking hand in hand with a lover is perfectly innocent isn't it? Hmmmm - only in certain cultures.

    I could go on, but you get my point.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You may believe "that a person will only be bothered about this kind of thing if they were somewhere (or doing something) they shouldn’t have been."

    Well, that depends on WHO makes the judgement on what you should or shouldn't be doing. For those of us who are lucky enough live in fairly liberal democracies, we don't realise the dangers of surveillance.

    For example:
    Women wearing trousers is OK isn't it? Not in certain countries.
    Women driving cars is not controversial is it? Yes, banned in Saudi Arabia.
    Unmarried women walking hand in hand with a lover is perfectly innocent isn't it? Hmmmm - only in certain cultures.

    I could go on, but you get my point.

    ReplyDelete

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