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Google the Peeping-Tom?



Yesterday’s post asking if Google’s new street views for Google Maps was an invasion of privacy, turns out to be just one of many around the web. In fact, The New York Times jumps on the story and looks at whether Google is indeed invading our privacy.

“The issue that I have ultimately is about where you draw the line between taking public photos and zooming in on people’s lives,” Ms. Kalin-Casey said in an interview Thursday on the front steps of the building. “The next step might be seeing books on my shelf. If the government was doing this, people would be outraged.”

Her husband quickly added, “It’s like peeping.”

As Jordan and many others pointed out in our comments, Google’s likely not breaking any laws, and NYT points out the company did a lot of research before introducing the feature.

Google said in a statement that it takes privacy seriously and considered the privacy implications of its service before it was introduced on Tuesday. “Street View only features imagery taken on public property,” the company said. “This imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street.”

Google said that it had consulted with public service organizations and considered their feedback in developing the service, which allows users to request that a photo be removed for privacy reasons. A Google spokeswoman said the company had received few such requests.

A mapping consultant shares the same view…

Edward A. Jurkevics, a principal at Chesapeake Analytics, a consulting firm specializing in mapping and imagery, said that courts have consistently ruled that people in public spaces can be photographed. “In terms of privacy, I doubt if there is much of a problem,” Mr. Jurkevics said.

Still, it is spooky and you have to agree with the statement that if this were the work of the government, we’d be a lot more freaked out.

PS. Interested in learning about the cameras used to take the photos? CNET has the details.

PPS. And the Top 15 Google Street View Sightings, according to Mashable, include:

09. The guy with no head.

This guy shouldn’t complain, at least it’s hard to identify him.

Headless

Link

02. Crime in progress

Maybe the guy just forgot his keys. Or he’s practicing for the free climbing contest. Hey, is that a lockpicking set dangling out of his pocket?

Breaking in

Link

  • http://www.webomatica.com/wordpress/ Webomatica

    Personally when I first checked out the service I expected that all the people had been digitally removed. If this is map service and the focus is supposed to be on getting directions and identifying landmarks, there is little reason to have people in there.

    Yes I know that would be very time consuming, but this is Google, not some startup with no time and resources.

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    Andy I agree that laws probably aren’t being broken since the images are all taken in public places, but this is very big brotherish.

    How soon before people are mistakenly accused of all sorts of things?

    And public or not it’s one thing to take out the trash in your robe when at most your neighbors may see and another when the possibility exists the whole world may see.

  • http://scissormonkey.wordpress.com Thomas

    People seem to be pretty concerned about the considerations of privacy and the Google images associated with the Google Map Zoom Feature.

    To address concerns of privacy and for the sake of operating system competition I wrote a post on the Google Maps Zoom Feature and what it could be renamed.

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  • MacB

    So.. say i am walking down the street, i stop at each house and take a photo even of those houses 1. whose windows happen to be open and 2. of people who might be in some stage of undress and 3. even if they are in a witness protection program 4. or if they are being protected from stalkers who would love to know where they are … do you think i’m going to be allowed to keep going? … Didn’t think so.

  • http://googlemaps.com R.W.

    These cameras need to point up at our skies and document the chemicals the U.N. and our govt. are spraying all over us in their attempt to control our weather. If you dont believe it then just start paying attention to weather patterns in your area when you start seeing these chemtrails left by these
    criminals……..