Posted September 14, 2009 2:45 pm by with 0 comments

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Broughton, Buckinghamshire, England, has found a way to get on the map—by staying off the map. Back in April, an angry mob defeated a Google Street View car by forming a human chain, and apparently this is news to UPI.

It was a good thing the villagers acted when they did—the search giant is so powerful that merely by thinking about mapping the village, they caused a spate of burglaries! Thankfully, the villagers’ diligence will prevent future . . . wait. . . .

So we’ve covered this story for five months, but I’m not really buying it this time around. Let’s look at the facts: Broughton is a neighborhood of less than 1500 people (2001 census). It’s considered part of nearby Milton Keynes, and the metro area has a total population of nearly 200,000—but nowhere else in that metropolitan area is part of Street View. On this map, Broughton is marker A, and this is the lowest/closest zoom level that has any Street View available (red circles added to highlight Street View enabled areas):
broughton street view
However, it does seem unlikely that Google cars were just passing through: Broughton is off the main road, and unless the Google driver was hungry, tired, or looking for a bathroom (and none of those things ever happen!), s/he probably wouldn’t have just wandered off the highway. Right?

No matter what Google’s intent, the fact remains that the villagers did stop the Google car, despite the fact that Google is well within EU privacy laws. Maybe they were so discouraged, they decided not to photograph anywhere in Milton Keynes.

UPI notes that European Street View projects have taken much longer because of privacy concerns. And yeah, England, Germany, Switzerland and Greece have objected—but so have Japan, Australia and even America.

Despite years of privacy complaints, Google continues to map new cities in new countries. Although not required by law, they’ve blurred faces and license plates and will even remove images from Street View if you feel uncomfortable with your exposure.

But even that may not be enough to keep you off the Internet. Maybe Broughton residents ought to get up in arms about Flickr and Panoramio:

Photos by stone40

What do you think? Is not wanting people or companies to photograph your house from the street a legitimate concern, or something well covered by case law?