Posted December 19, 2008 12:00 pm by with 10 comments

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The Campaign Against Surveillance Society, a Japanese group of lawyers and professors, wants Google to stop providing its Street View imaging service of Japanese cities and delete all saved images, according to Reuters.

Google’s Street View offers 360 degree views of 12 Japanese cities–as well as 50 in the US–but the Japanese group believes the tool violates citizens’ privacy.

“We strongly suspect that what Google has been doing deeply violates a basic right that humans have,” Yasuhiko Tajima, a professor of constitutional law at Sophia University in Tokyo, told Reuters by telephone.

“It is necessary to warn society that an IT giant is openly violating privacy rights, which are important rights that the citizens have, through this service.”

For the most part, Google is not breaking any law, by taking photos of anything viewable from a public place. Still, the question becomes “just because it is legal to take the photos, is it ethical?”

There’s no official response from Google, but after facing similar complaints in the past, Google has started testing face-blurring technology–something I’m sure we’ll see offered to the residents of Japan.

  • Tawna McKay

    Google is not going anywhere no wo/man has gone before with Street View. Location View, a Japanese company, began providing street level images of Japanese cities long before Google did. See it for yourself at, if you can get around the Japanese interface – you need a password and user ID – you can register for free, but if you can’t read Japanese, a translator tool will come in handy.

    As for the face blurring, the Japanese photos are already blurred, and while the technology works probably 90% of the time, a few faces have been missed. What they really need to do is have an actual human review the photos before publication to catch the blur failures.

  • @Tawna – thanks for the additional insight!

  • My sympathies are entirely with the people all over the world who object to the violation of their privacy. If this can be prevented, all good luck and strength to those who bring this about.

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  • I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. I don’t believe it’s unethical. First of all, what could they be doing in a public place that they would be so worried about that someone else might see? And second, what are the chances anyone else is going to see someone they know in those pictures and THEN catch them doing something awful?

    The answer: Slim and none.

    If you don’t want to be seen in public, don’t go out. I have a thousand pictures of my own with strangers in the background…is that unethical?

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  • Google covers more then just public places, and while I understand in general they make it hard to zoom in some areas there are still places where “a reasonable of privacy could be expected” but really is not there due to these satellites. That is exactly what constitutes a privacy violation.

  • It is really a very sencitive issue. And google should respect other privace.

  • I was at the time: @

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  • I truly believe that most of Google’s efforts violate the individuals right to privacy.. This is just another example of something we’ve seen thousands of times before.

  • Wii

    I think it is a little bit of a sensitive area. If google are breaking the law with this then that means that every person who takes a photograph of a building but catches the heads of people passing by are in violation of that persons privacy.

    This means 90% of photographs posted by news reports and videos by news teams taken in streets do the same.

    Not enforcable in my opinion

  • Too crazy, they are probably more worried about privacy when it comes to public defense… I don’t think they really care about citizens privacy.