Posted May 31, 2007 2:34 pm by with 16 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

As we reported, Google Maps has enabled street-level views for certain cities, but are they invading your personal space?

Take a look…

Google Maps Invading Privacy

I’m sure privacy laws don’t apply to public places, but it’s still kind of big brotherish, don’t you think?

Thanks to Dan.

  • Jordan McCollum

    Often people receive warnings before something like this (thinking of the LA airport while they were filming Airline: big public signs saying they’re filming and you can opt out if you want). However, as you state, being in a public place = no reasonable expectation of privacy. In fact, in some paparazzi cases, the courts have found anything visible from public property/the sidewalk to have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

    That being said, what was Google supposed to do? Put a notice in the newspaper: “We’ll be driving through your city indexing it this month. If you do not wish to be included, please post a ‘noindex, nofollow’ sign on your door or remain indoors at all times with windowshades drawn.”

    Speaking of nofollow, it’s not like they followed people around or even cared what people were doing (that we’ve heard of yet, at least).

    (And one technical response for the SEL post on this that I just won’t register with Typekey to make: It’s the 14th amendment, not the 4th. The Fourth Amendment’s protection from illegal searches and seizures applies to police and law enforcement bodies. The entire concept of privacy is never mentioned in the Constitution, but according to at 1965 Supreme Court decision, Griswold v. Connecticut, the penumbra of privacy emanates from the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 9th Amendments VIA the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. It’s a technicality, to be sure.)

  • Dean

    Yes a little spooky. Then again they have blanketed London with cameras and if it can help deter/solve crime maybe its not so bad.

    BTW, Who’s cameras are being used? I have to belive that local/state governments have to approve the placement of any public / private cameras right?

  • I wonder when they will come out with a view called: Invisibathroom. That lets you see inside peoples bathrooms, in real time.

  • In all seriousness, Dean, here is how they do it:

  • Dean

    Ah, so these aren’t stationary like in London.

    So what’s the big deal then? They are less intrusive then those pesky tourists who walk around filming everything in site when I am at an attraction. I really don’t want to be in “the Smith’s trip to Disney World”. At least in this case I am a relative blur, and I’ll know to duck and hide when I see a black VW Beetle 😉

    My question would become, will this become an extension of our “YouTube” culture where they will post only the “interesting” stuff. Frankly, I don’t want a million people looking at my jogging stride.

  • I don’t know constitutional law as well as Jordan, but it seems pretty odd that you can see into places where cameras haven’t been allowed since 9/11.

    Funny the people who do this are called “Street Level View-Mobile.” But is it?

    Obviously, the Bill of Rights was written before cameras were invented, so it’s not surprising that privacy law as it relates to such matters was handled in the courts. I’m sure Jordan’s right about the ’65 ruling, but what of the Homeland Security laws?

  • Jordan McCollum

    Robert–That one I don’t have an answer to. I saw the post on Future Now, too, and that one is probably the most disturbing of the reports.

    Okay, that and the guy getting busted by the police. But Google Maps removed that one.

  • @Jordan – is there anything you don’t know? 😉

  • Like Jordon says, public places holds no expectation of privacy, indeed that’s what makes public…well, public. As far as the “Brooklyn Battery Tunnel” no-cameras security, I wonder if that would really hold in court – assuming that the tunnel is public property and not privately owned (even public works like tunnels and bridges can be technically privately owned by a publicly-funded company, but I digress).

    But what I want to say really is…
    I wonder what all the fuss is about? What about Flickr? I’ve come across a few photos taken by strangers that were definitely in private places (bars) where a nice photo of me doing a shot of whiskey is clearly seen.

    Why arent we crying about the privacy loss thanks to Flickr and Mobile Phones? Why didnt the stranger at the bar ask me to sign a release form?

    Basically, I think the whole expectation of privacy needs to rexamined in this “Social Media” age. Just about everyone has a camera-phones these days which means that anywhere I go I could be photographed and have that photo placed on the Internet without my knowledge.

    Folks to grow up and quit crying Big Brother. Big Brother is everywhere and it is us.

  • Daniel,

    I think the “big brother” phrase Andy used is fitting with regards to Google. Lately they have been buying companies left and right, telling webmasters what and how to do things as well as pleura of other initiatives that make them look like they’re trying to take over the Web as we know it.

    This is just another stack on the woodpile.

  • I’m with Daniel on this one. The concept of “privacy” is continually evolving and we need to steel ourselves that what we define as comfortable will have to change as time goes by

  • In years past, and certainly before cameras, people were on their better behavior because they didn’t want to look foolish to their neighbors. They were prim and proper in public. People had pride in being at their best when in public places, proud and polite. Always dressing in their better clothing, tipping their hats, and being most cordial in conversation to strangers. People used to have manners, and proper etiquette was always the watchword.

    Now days, peer pressure all but requires you to be rude and foolish, and the more offensive the better. Why are they getting upset because someone can photograph their antics? If you go jogging, looking like a walrus in spandex, and someone puts a movie of your jiggle-stride on YouTube or Google Maps, you only have yourself to blame. Where is your shame?

    Maybe this will get people to take a little care in their personal presentation to the public again.

    Then maybe not, as so many people are looking to sue deep pockets if they feel offended due to the outcome of their own actions. People don’t seem to want to take responsibility for their selfish and false attitudes of ‘freedoms’ either. There
    is no consideration for their fellow man anymore. If it feels good, do it, with little or no thought to the ramifications.

    All these laws everyone wants to quote, are to protect us from the government. Why do these people want to try and use them against private companies and individuals. There is NO big-brother in this case. Not applicable.

    Keep your chin up, be polite and smile in public. Walk tall and proud again, for Google is watching…

  • Anonymity is the luxury of the boring and/or self-delusional.

    A company is only a collection of people empowered by money and common goals. So, if we’re Big Brother, as Daniel insists–nice one!–we need to get in touch with our extremely voyeuristic nature. It’s fun to discuss legalities, since it means we get to talk about the ground instead of the sky. Essentially, Google has become the social anthropology experiment we’ve all been waiting for.

    Maybe they should change their slogan to “Hey, you! Don’t be evil, stupid. We’re totally filming this. What’s that? Whatever, man… If you didn’t want your 15 minutes of fame, we wouldn’t exist. Oh, and by the way, you still love us.”

  • @Daniel – The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel issue is that outside cameras are not allowed at all as a Homeland Security measure, which supersedes any ownership interest. That being said, the only large-scale privately owned bridge I’m aware of is the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, which also happens to be our biggest point of international commerce. But they’ve got customs officials on both sides of the bridge, so it’s not quite analogous. Besides, if something happened to that bridge, they’d be doing us a favor. The thing’s 20 years past maintenance.

  • Oh, yes, and “… You have the right to remain silent, Anything you say can be used against you…”

    This applies to the court of public opinion too.

  • Very true, John… For instance, I’m already regretting that last dumb quip of mine. But, thanks to Google, it’s well documented. 🙂