Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Google Street View - Privacy Controversy

Google Street View camera car snapped in London's Golden Square and posted online by

The BBC's 6 o'clock news (and elsewhere) reports on the concern privacy campaigers have about Google's latest mapping tool 'Street View'. Google's camera car has been spotted on the streets of London. It has a large camera stalk mounted on the roof, so its pretty conspicuous. One respondent on the BBC's blog says the vehicle was even pulled over by uniformed police outside Westminster's Parliament building!

How Google Street View works

Privacy campaigners complain that people caught by Google's cameras will be shown for all to see in places they don't want to be seen, or doing things they shouldn't be doing. Google says it blurs faces and car registration plates and it's incorporated a facility for users to report inappropriate views which can be accessed on its site.

I'm planning and researching a forthcoming trip to Northern California at the moment and I've found Google's mapping tools invaluable. I like that I can see all the hotels (and reviews from Tripadvisor) displayed on the graphic map and then click into the satellite view, or even the street level view to see what the area really looks like. So much more reliable than the guide books - and I've discovered a couple of hotels I had on my short list which are right next to the Freeway down ramp! (not something many hotels make a virtue of on their own website photos!).

I'm a strong supporter of personal privacy - but I don't see how Google Street View hurts us. I'd go further and say it helps us. The BBC news report asks how you would feel if your house is shown online? Passers-by see my home everyday. The aerial photo image of my street has been accessible via Google Earth for several years without incident.


Anonymous said...

If you had two braincells rather than one you would be able to do a little research and discover that the car in the photo is not a google car, and the camera on the roof isnt even the camera currently used by google. It says TXi on the side of the car so theres a good starting point.

The Chief Executive said...

Your comment raises more questions than it answers.
1. Who then are TXI?
2. Why do they operate a fleet of 'camera cars' photographing our streets?
3. Should we be concerned about why TXI are doing this?

Siemens read the meters for British Gas domestic customers. Siemens vans are marked Siemens. So what we learn is not all agencies' logos declare who they are working for.

Anonymous said...

Who are TXi?

Consult your search engine, thats what I did. is what I found.

Why do they operate a fleet of 'camera cars' photographing our streets?

Well why shouldn't they? They're just filming, just because its 360 footage doesnt mean they're invading the privacy of the general public more than any video you can see on youtube. If you saw somebody with a handycam walking down oxford street would they be breaking the law??

Should we be concerned about why TXI are doing this?

I hightly doubt it. Do you have somthing to hide?