Google is so good at what it does that it actually uncovers illegal acts and helps bring perpetrators to justice. Well that may be a bit of a stretch but in the “is that really news department” is an incident where the roving Google camera caught a Canadian tree-killer in the act. As a result, the parties that were committing “treeicide” (not a real word, I know but this is a blog, remember) may find themselves facing some significant fines.
Forget about all of those ubiquitous police surveillance cameras in your city: the new sheriff in town is that shifty Google Maps camera wheeling through your neighborhood.
Recently, a property owner in Canada was charged with illegal removal of trees after a Google camera helped capture the evidence, according to CanWest News Service.
Last May in Vancouver, Margaret Burnyeat allegedly hired a company to remove 23 cedar, cypress and evergreen trees from two adjacent lots she owned. Neighbors alerted the police, who found some stumps that hadn’t yet been removed.
Luckily for the city, one of Google’s Street View cameras — strapped to cars and driven through neighborhoods to photograph high-resolution, 360-degree images that are then linked to Google’s online mapping tool — caught some of the culprits in action.
The picture that brought them down
What is ironic about all of this is the adversarial relationship that exists between the roving Google camera and the Canadian government. Things between the two have been a little rough in the past.
Ironically, Canadian authorities have been some of the most resistant to the presence of Google’s controversial cameras in streets. The company launched its Street View service in parts of the U.S. and Canada in 2007 and have since expanded to 12 other countries.
But after the Canadian privacy commissioner and others raised questions about whether the roaming cameras were legal, because Google collected identifiable images of people without their consent, the company implemented an automated feature that blurs faces and license plates. The company will also consider removing some images from its service upon request from the public or governments.
So what’s the takeaway here? Be careful what you do because you never know when Google Agent 007 is looking. He seeks justice under the guise of recording locations without your permission. Isn’t he slick?