Posted May 13, 2008 4:38 pm by with 6 comments

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Google Street View has long been picked on for invading people’s privacy. Though the case law on the matter clearly establishes that walking down the street and the exterior of your house visible from the street aren’t ‘private,’ most people are still leery of having their pictures posted on Google Maps as they walked down the road.

But good news for future photographic subjects: Google has begun implementing face-blurring technology in their Street View maps. Case #1: Manhattan.

example of google street view face-blurring technology

Google’s photocars revisited Manhattan (yep, just Manhattan. Apparently, it still sucks to be you, lesser boroughs. Especially you, Staten Island.), one of the first places that they’d scanned. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been pretty disappointed recently, going from looking at my house in decent resolution and good street-level coverage (not to mention being able to pan up) to taking vicarious vacations to New York. (Unless the city really was that blurry until recently. Was it? And all the buildings stopped around the third story.)

The now hi-res (and I can tell you, they added a bunch more streets), pan-up-able shots of the borough also feature the “face-blurring technology,” which Google says:

has been a year in the making — working at Street View-scale is a tough challenge that required us to advance state-of-the-art automatic face detection, and we continue working hard to improve it as we roll it out for our existing and future imagery.

Will this reduce the resistance from privacy advocates? Probably not. But it might give the rest of us a little more peace of mind.

  • wii guy

    Is this service just in the US or is it available in the UK? I’ll have a search on Google to find out :)


    wii guy’s last blog post..13 year-old boy involved in high speed car chase

  • PS3

    Here in the UK were are viewed by hoards of CCTV cameras everywhere we go. Can’t imagine seeing yourself on Google can really be that much of an issue (with obvious exceptions)? When did people get so sensitive?

  • Elections guy

    Looks like on this picture their technology failed in the right bottom corner.

    Elections guy’s last blog post..Polls before Pennsylvania primary: Obama most popular

  • CT Moore

    I think what bothers people most is that, unlike CCTV, Google is very much open. That is, the circuit is not closed, and trusted civil servants aren’t the only one who have access to info/media about you. There’s a huge difference.

    CT Moore’s last blog post..Is Your Site Optimized for Mac Users?

  • seo dude

    Yea, here in UK they would not even let me have a look at CCTV after my bike has been stolen for privacy reasons. With Google everyone can see you.

    seo dude’s last blog post..Why affiliate marketing is better than Adsense, PPC marketing.

  • Jordan McCollum

    @EG—We have to preserve the privacy of random patches of asphalt. And horses, too: