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back to article Google's Street View could be unlawful in Europe

Like a trigger-happy tourist, Google has shot almost every street in five US cities and added its pics to what might be the world's biggest holiday album. But if Google ever starts shooting the streets of Europe, courts here could fight back. Google Maps Street View is the latest service from the search giant. Vehicles with …

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so they blur peoples faces out

modify the facial registration software in the latest digital cameras to blur out faces (rather than focus on them). job done.

as for your link to the legislation on having photos removed that cause substantial distress, part b of that section says

b) that damage or distress is or would be unwarranted

well if you're in a public place canoodling with your wife;s best friend i find i hard to see a measure under this act. I mean otherwise how would paparazzi photographers get away with it?

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Title

Nah - keep the faces and put a pixelated figleaf in front of arse cleaveage like this:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=l&hl=en&q=museum&near=San+Francisco,+California,+United+States&ie=UTF8&view=map&om=1&layer=c&cbll=37.777452,-122.504927&cbp=1,289.513005367503,0.621668831799214,3&ll=37.784792,-122.502236&spn=0.020452,0.057335&z=15

Genius.

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OMG!

OMG! , so that means all live European web cam broadcasts we see on the net are illegal , and a deliberate breach of numerous assorted Euro laws!

Oh well to comply with the laws all ISP's , should automatically shut these questionable illegal sites!

Ain't life rotten!

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Anonymous Coward

Title

I just wish people worked out proper tags so I don't have to scroll across the page to read each comment......it's not rocket science......

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Anonymous Coward

what are the rules on TV?

"in the UK we have a right to prevent the display of an image that would cause substantial distress"

Presumably you mean on the internet, because it certainly doesn't apply to television - see Channel 4, Diana: The Witnesses In The Tunnel.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6725237.stm

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Needs an algorithmic solution...

...which shouldn't be a problem for Google!

A bit of code that knows the distance between photo A and B should be able to produce a composite image that contains only static elements - therefore blurring out most people and eliminating most problems.

An easier way on a small scale would just to take long exposures so people are blurred out from the start - but of course that won't work too well from a moving vehicle. Perhaps a squad of cyclists with tripods could be a low-tech fix. :)

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Image resolution not high enough?

"The need for individuals to be identifiable is an important one: Monty the cat looked like a blob to me. Cats can't sue, even in Europe, but humans are just as hard to identify in Street View from what I've seen because the resolution is too low."

Take a virtual stroll around Berkeley, more than enough resolution to identify people:

http://wordpress.metro.cx/2007/06/01/je-mag-alles-van-me-weten-behalve-mn-pincode/

(Yes, it's a dutch page, but the pics speak for themselves)

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Anonymous Coward

What about paparazzi shots?

If in the UK 'we have a right to prevent the display of an image that would cause substantial distress', wouldn't the gutter press gossip pages look pretty bare by now? Is there some exemption to the rule?

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Paris Pages jaune has had this for ages

See http://www.pagesjaunes.fr for photo guide. Example near Notre Dame: http://www.pagesjaunes.fr/ciweb2g-pagesjaunes/RecherchePhoto.do?crypt=Q/l4NQ9CzB3/YJABTAU7sGlQRfWfHAmbcGiGNyQUVYdGML6XRhgMa1d/7U4icTk73VdC4wrXLTOiUcsvL0Oe26josJG/1N6Rge6UTaKU2J93S1EaIWM0fVEEr1i4RPFSQ+qPFoVM1xIZbn+/EJ1kDWXP1q/oh7CS

London had quite good coverage a few years back, but I think the company went out of business.

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How does this apply to the press?

>Our data protection regime lets us take holiday snaps, even of strangers, provided

>we're doing so for private purposes. But if we're taking snaps for commercial use,

>where individuals are identifiable, there is no such exemption. We need to notify

>the subjects, and that's hard for Google to do. Even a loudspeaker on top of the

>camera cars ("Hi, it's Google here, say 'cheese' everybody!") might not suffice.

So how does this apply to the press? They take pictures for "commercial use" do they have to go around and get consent from everyone in the frame? How do the paparazzi operate? They make a living from photographing people without their consent. The morons who run our news programmes on TV these days seem to think that the only way to read a report about anything is to stand outside a building remotely connected with the event and film a reporter, do they have to get informed consent from every passer by? If I said no would they have to stop their live broadcast and wait for me to go on my way. They certainly have no right to obstruct me.

Is this another case of "The law is an ass"?

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StreetVeiws are already available in Europe

A similar setup to Streetveiw has been available in France for years, it was set up by the French Version of Yellow Pages. Pages Jaunes

Below is an image of my local:-

http://www.pagesjaunes.fr/ciweb2g-pagesjaunes/RecherchePhoto.do?crypt=JjCoPM1ywiuittH8sx4U9ojsy8noW9avePVgiIu0dzH7XOH3vPnRxPwMubYDlS3SpGhK9ylob2eBC1AeXVqc2mHjKCwTwyIi0KCB2CevhCwBuz2FdCC3uLi3vvu7CpLJWzZZ8ZimzqHxWi057zZpB+w3ZqaTti11&

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Great

So we can spy on America but they can't spy on us - that makes a very refreshing change.

But the first poster is absolutely right - the data protection act etc. refers to personally identifiable data as people's faces etc.; as long as the faces are blurred, there shouldn't be a problem. And as far as seeing things through windows is concerned - if you have a street-facing window and don't bother with net curtains etc., what do you expect?

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are you sure?

"if we're taking snaps for commercial use, where individuals are identifiable, there is no such exemption. We need to notify the subjects"

The link you cite refers to a case where a website clearly identified individuals by name, along with telephone numbers and even medical information. Clearly that was a breach of data protection.

But I'm not sure that carries over into photographs where you can identify a person only if you already know what they look like. If you must notify subjects before photographing them, how is it that our newpapers and television news frequently include photographs and video of street scenes? Surely photographs, even those for commercial use, that are simply photographs of the street scene are fair game.

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Title

"But if we're taking snaps for commercial use, where individuals are identifiable, there is no such exemption. We need to notify the subjects..."

Are you sure? I've worked in TV and when taking footage of the public, we got consent from people who we actually interviewed, but not those in the background. Is that any different? Could you sue BBC News for showing footage of you canoodling with your neighbour's wife in the background of a festival on the news?

P.S. If my cat was visible in Google Street View I'd be quite proud.

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Already done in France

Street view has been available in France (select towns) for some time already:

http://ved.pagesjaunes.fr/ciweb2g-ved/photo/AfficherPageAccueilPhoto.do

I haven't heard of any problems so far.

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blah blah blah

I imagine that a full roll-out of this neat tool would involve too many images for Google to view and modify by hand to blur out or identify suspect images. You wouldn't think it would be beyond the wit of man to write a facial recognition and blurring tool though.

Off topic: Any chance this comments code could be modifed so we don't have to constantly enter a spurious 'title' for the submission? I'm making a comment, not writing an essay, it doesn't need a title.

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Notre Damn

Funny all the mentions of France. Couple of years ago I went to Paris in a wannabe spree of street photography, trying to be Henri Cartier-Bresson. Turns out nowadays it's illegal to do street photography in France - for all the reasons itemised above re. the Google thing. Given that HCB and tonnes of others made people see street photography could be an art form just like any other, it all goes to show how much bullshit rationalisation goes into both sides of privacy/public interest arguments. At the end of the day it's probably more about vested interest...

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Cool Google Street View

I added here the most amazing Street View : http://www.geo-trotter.com/cat-street-view.php

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