The New York Times reports that the Greek Data Protection Authority (DPA), which is a watchdog group has a history of clashes with many groups including the Greek government and the Greek Orthodox Church about privacy concerns, has banned the service from continuing to take pictures of Greek properties.
The concerns regarding Google’s Street View service is no different really than those raised in England when a village gathered up their torches and pitchforks to stop the Google View camera car from continuing to take pictures. It’s about privacy and whether Google can go around taking pictures of everything and then using it for their service is a violation of privacy needs of citizens and governments alike (Google took Google Earth images off its service after the Israeli government expressed concerns that the images were being used by Hamas for rocket assaults).
Google’s take is that they will blur faces and license plates numbers in any photos. Their contention to this point has been that the images they take are no different than anyone else can take from a street at any time. Of course, they omit the fact that about 99.99999999% of the rest of the world is not trying to put all of the images online in a service for people to look at any street from anywhere at any time for any reason but let’s not nit-pick here.
Google has had success in most areas with this defense thus far. There is some mounting opposition however.
The World Privacy Forum, a U.S.-based nonprofit research and advisory group, said the Greek decision could raise the standard for other countries and help challenge that argument.
”It only takes one country to express a dissenting opinion,” Pam Dixon, the group’s executive director, said in a phone interview from the United States. ”If Greece gets better privacy than the rest of the world then we can demand it for ourselves. That’s why it’s very important.”
Google spokeswoman Elaine Filadelfo said the Mountain View, Calif.-based company would be happy to provide the Greek DPA with further clarifications.
”Google takes privacy very seriously, and that’s why we have put in place a number of features, including the blurring of faces and license plates, to ensure that Street View will respect local norms when it launches in Greece,” Filadelfo said Tuesday.
Search Engine Land reports, however, that the supposed ban may not be as the NYT said.
But the BBC reports that Google denies it’s been banned in Greece. A Google spokesperson says:
“Street View has not been banned in Greece. We have received a request for further information and we are happy to continue discussing these issues with them. We will discuss with them whether it is appropriate for us to continue driving in the meantime.”
So it goes with Google’s Street View. Most don’t seem to mind the privacy issues because my guess is that most don’t know it is actually happening. When the Google Street View car shows up in your neighborhood how are you going to react?