A privacy campaigner will launch a legal challenge to Google's Street View service, which was launched today. Simon Davies of Privacy International says that he will pursue "a test case" against Google. Street View comprises 360 degree photographs of a town's streets, and is already live in the US and some European countries. It …
Simon Davies, a man who is comfortable with private companies snooping on internet browsing inside ISPs, is uncomfortable with a set of static pictures taken yonks ago from a public street.
Whilst nearly every privacy and rights movement in the US and UK has seen fit to criticise web snoopers, Privacy International makes not a single statement.
Simon - wake up man, you're fighting the wrong battles. Street View is not going to dramatically affect the course of democracy in this country. Please stick to ID cards, government database, live CCTV, ISP snooping,DNA retention, government data dragnets...
There's enough to choose from, why pick on this cool and innocuous tool
Well we have it in New Zealand.. Very useful especially since its on my phone. if your looking for an address you see a picture of it etc so no need to squint at letter boxes to find the right house :)
I would have thought that, as the law stands at the moment, that the action will not succeed. It is quite legal to take photographs of anything on and from UK public highways and land (except certain "sensitive" government installations - how do we know what THEY are?), despite some peoples' objections. From my layman's point of view, surely If someone is in a public place or viewable from a public place, then surely they realise that they are in full view for anyone else to see them and whatever it is they are doing? If they are doing something which they do not want anyone else to see, don't do it in public! Go home and pull the curtains!
So what if it shows a photo of your house and since the photo was taken (these photos appear to be about 8 months old at least) you've had some work done in order to sell the house. The photo on Google Maps will show the house pre-work, so if a potential buyer goes to google maps to check the house out and then decides not to buy, where do you stand legally?
Blurred number plates
Like this one? http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=sw1w9tq&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=22.172703,67.675781&ie=UTF8&layer=c&cbll=51.495781,-0.147083&panoid=alNCyhaEGv_BShEL80frNQ&cbp=12,288.80510422526174,,0,16.14259829918517&ll=51.495733,-0.146942&spn=0.010393,0.021887&z=16&iwloc=addr
This Simon Davies "Privacy Campaigner" is an idiot ...
""There are safeguards and remedies available, so while Street View might make some people uncomfortable, I can't see any legal grounds for stopping it," he said."
Exactly. International law not withstanding, and my own personal issues with online privacy, I have absolutely no issue with anyone spending enough money to place 3D pictures of all of the world's highways & byways into an online database.
If my wife can take a picture of Hwy 12 at Cavedale Road, and post it on her website, why can't Google? Maps is maps, even if they are near-3-D & digitally constructed.
 Hey, if you had been in IT for nearly fourty years, you'd have privacy issues too!
none for me thanks
I disagree with Google streetview. As is said in the article this is for profit, everything google does is for profit. I love google, we use them for various portions of our business and personal lives but streetview is clearly a violation of the peoples privacy.
We all get flustered over the video cameras at stoplights and on city streets but those are fixtures because they are city property. The city does however remain property of the people and if an overwhelming amount of the people said no to them then im sure they wouldn't be installed.
Streetview differs from celebrity paparazzi pictures in a number of ways. Most up and coming celebrities actually pay to have the attention and also tell the papa where they will be. Once they become famous enough that papa at photoing them if they happen to photograph a celeb with a picture of your wife and kid in the background you would probably win whatever you wanted to have yourself removed from the picture.
With streetview google should be required to pay the people of every city, township.... a fee to be there. The city/town what-have-you should have to vote and approve a permit to allow them to do these photographs. These streets belong to the people, not to google. You don't pay your taxes so that google can drive it's little cars on your streets and photograph for commercial use.
Google will win this hands-down, im sure they'd even be willing to buy the permits if they were forced to but who's going to force a corporation that has access to our military bases to land it's airplanes?
Heres one last thing to consider, if cameras like this are good. Why not have a camera at Every stop sign, at Every redlight. Those highspeed cameras can catch everything. The governments would make their money back in no time from all the tickets and fines. Want to live in 1984? Perhaps a camera in every bedroom, in every house. The cameras could help divorce attorneys with infidelity. Google wants cameras, lets's have cameras, how about google bedroomview, watch your neighbor cheat on his wife!
Shoorly public domain?
I am, as discussed numerous times on here, at liberty to walk down the street with my camera and take pictures of scientologists or black helicopters ad nauseum. If I take lots of pictures and walk around a lot then publish them on Flickr or Facebook or my home website, how is that different to Streetview? The satellite views I could see having a weaker case as the general public don't generally have access to light aircraft to take pictures of people's back gardens but Streetview doesn't show anything any member of the public couldn't see strolling around.
If you don't want something to be seen, don't do it in view of the public highway. The clue's in the name.
Paris 'cos she's quite happy for people to have a public view of her.
And only *now* they think of that?
It reminds me of the kungfu movie "locking stables, bolting horses".
If I can walk down that street
and see it with my eyes... then I am pretty sure that is an extremely simplified version of 'Public Domain'.
Street View is a very useful tool, unlike these over-reactors. I don't mind people mooting a case, but what on earth are they afraid of?
Will google have to remove images if a streetview car drives up a private driveway? They often are not signposted as such, but that doesn't stop them being private property.
I used to have to write in my passport any notable, identifying features. Given the monicker, surely just blurring faces and registration plates isn't enough?
Is this another case of Phorm=good and Google=Bad
"Google has implemented automatic image blurring technology for faces and car number plates."
They have but its not complete, I've seen some cars with registrations which haven't been blurred at all.
Also - is face blurring enough? I'm sure my friends and family could recognise me even if my face was blurred.
Reasonable Expectation of Privacy
I thought our laws stated that you had no reasonable expectation of privacy if you are in a public place. That being the case Google would not need prior consent for 99% of the people featured on streetview. Do the media get the consent of everybody in a football crowd before filming or photographing the match? Do the media need the prior consent of everybody pictured in a street scene before filming of photographing it? .
Imagine you saw yourself in the background on a shot on the headlines on a news channel. Being aware that this could be repeated every fifteen minutes for the next few hours you contact the station and ask them not to show the piece again. Do you really think they will comply. At least Google do have a policy to take down images when requested, do news channels and websites?
And when will Simon be pursuing a test case against BT and Phorm?
"Capable of being distinguished and named"
Unless people have massive nametags on with their first and second names on, then I think all this legal action is absolute crap!!!
People will whinge and moan about Google Street view whatever measures they put in place, BBC Breakfast ripped them apart this morning (disclaimer: The BBC and completely un-biased), right......
Who cares if someone has a photo of your face, what are they going to do with it, errrmmmm, make a fake ID with your nam...... wait, no, can't do that one. I'm out of ideas.
Next time, we should have dedicated Google Street View days, Google can do a leaflet drop the week before, letting everyone know when the cameras are coming around your area and all the people bothered about this can stay indoors.
Although they would probably go outside anyway, just so they had something to complain about.
It's complete idiocy to expect privacy when your using public services. You have a right to walk on the roads, and everyone else as a right to look at you while your doing so!
Google are blurring faces/number plates which is more than enough to protect the public.
If this moron succeeds then I hope the ruling is then applied to every single 'security' camera, which is no different to google's streetview.
Now as for spying into front rooms (ala mr and mrs boring) then its just a lack of definition. Your house is not defined as private, its just not 'public'.
Removal of photos
Has anyone had any actual experience of requesting their image/home is removed? I'd be interested to know how easy this is, as Google frequently make reference to their being an easy method for REQUESTING these images are removed, but never mention if they will carry out these requests straight away, of start demanding a reason etc. Anyone tried it yet?
but Mr. Robertson is, so I've got a couple of questions for him :-
1. The ICO was satisfied that the blurring of faces and number plates would provide adequate protection. The trouble is, the technology Google have used is blatantly flawed. Faces and numberplates are visible all over the place, some partially blurred, some not even touched. Google just put these pictures up anyway without checking them first. Is waiting for people to complain, and then (and only then) taking them down, within the sphere of the ICO's satisfaction?
2. What of privacy invasions which do not involve faces or numberplates? For example, I have seen a picture on Street View in my neighbourhood which is taken over a fence into somebody's back garden. As a local I can vouch that nobody can see into that garden from normal height in the course of everyday business. Again, Google have a button to report a 'concern' and have it taken down, but what are they doing taking a picture like that and putting it online in the first place? Can they claim it was 'accidental' and fall within the satisfaction of the ICO?
2. Google have been taking pictures not only on public roads, but in private ones (ones which are the responsibility of a private body e.g. a residents' association, and which is not a public thoroughfare). Do they have the right to do that under (a) the law or (b) the ICO's remit? Is 'there was no sign saying 'private road', and nobody came out and told us to stop' a reasonable defence (this is not America)?
I've already found a number plate that Google's blurring algorithm has failed to identify - on my street (it was a square-shaped number plate). Yet it saw fit to blur out the street sign.
And you can see in to my neighbour's kitchen (the front door was open when the spycar drove past).
I wish Simon Davies & Privacy International all the very best of luck. Whilst I support him wholeheartedly, I have absolutely no faith that anyone with the power to do something to stop the continuous erosion of our privacy will listen and take him seriously. The ICO is a pathetic and toothless waste of space, and the government keeps pushing ahead with ever more curbs and checks on our decreasing liberty.
Have just randomly gone into street view - to a park in Liverpool and lo, a family including 2 children, faces clearly visible (for reference, but feel free to delete, Mossley Hill Dr, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom)
It's still a *massive* assumption on Google's part, though, that the only way to recognise a person is by their face, and the only way to recognise a car is by its number plate. Much better would be to insist for *no* ordinary people and *no* private vehicles, at all, whatsoever. (Buses are fair game, as the passengers are already anonymised. Celebrities and tradespeople's vans also shouldn't a problem, as they're pretty much supposed to be seen by as many people as possible).
The technology already exists to achieve this; it's called waiting till they're out of shot, and/or asking politely.
Paper bag sellers' opportunity
Are people really so vain as to think people are remotely interested in them to the point of stalking them? Presumably all these people who are complaining about the invasion of thier privacy walk around with a paper bag over their head in case anyone should recognise them in the street, and have twelve foot walls around their houses so nobody knows what it looks like.
The simple fact is that nobody's interested in you. Sorry.
Paris, because nobody's interested in her either.
So far the majority of photos have been in streets. The real challenges will be when they drive around residential areas. It can be argued that your house is the focus of the picture, hence if you are sat in your house and can be identified then it will be a difference kettle of fish.
To Mr Davies
Get a proper job.
Vehicle number plates
Well, I'd say their blurring algorithms must still be in Beta*. It took me less than half an hour to find more than 5 vehicles displaying unblurred number plates in my local area. I reported them all and got TWO identical emails back per report - so their reporting systems are screwy as well.
* like everything else they do ;-)
Not in USA, and only AFTER people spent a LONG time complaining
"We are satisfied that Google is putting in place adequate safeguards to avoid any risk to the privacy or safety of individuals, including the blurring of vehicle registration marks and the faces of anyone included in Street View images"
Their blurring technology is pathetic. Half of the time you can zoom out or look from a slightly different angle and see what was 'obscured.' Also you can clearly still make out faces through the blurs.
This situation is making me angrier and angrier. The fact that they can and did act in such a way without even thinking it through properly, or asking, or even WARNING that they are going to immortalize everything and everyone and every hosue and every garden they see in a national mass photographing drive-by event with no choice to consent makes me wonder just WTF Google will do next without taking people's privacy into consideration.
By the time it happens and people realise, it will be FAR TOO LATE.
Just like the AOL search logs that got released, just like the Facebook beacon that broadcast purchases and outside activity to all your contacts without users permission or even knowledge.
Your private life just splashed all over the place in public, staring you in the face one day you get up and log on, and realise that it's been going on for the past week or past 8 hours, and god knows who saw it before you, with nothing except time-travel to erase the damage it has done. Pathetic, and scary as to where it might/will lead.
The issue isn't to avoid Google or not join Facebook and similar sites (which I don't anyway) the issue is tightening laws and making companies, specifically BIG companies to whom million pound fines mean NOTHING, making them obey the laws.
If it was me going out in my car, photographing my entire city in such detail, into my neighbours windows, taking photos of everyone's cars complete with license plate, and snapping people's faces and putting them on a website without any precautions I would most certainly be shut down and face charges. The only difference is I would never win any cases because unlike Google I would not have the power or the money to intimidate, impress and win the cases.
It's beyond appalling that Google, the law, or anyone with a brain uses such ridiculous logic as "well if you don't like it get it taken down" when that not only requires special effort on the complainers part, but could well be impossible, and at the least inconvenient. How many 70 year old grannies even knew they were photographed hobbling along the street? Let alone figure out who did it, where to log on and then wait for action to be taken? That doesn't mean she is any less entitled to get her photo removed.
What are they going to do next? Install Streetview Live Cameras on each street corner, or give worldwide public access to the CCTV that's already in place? Nothing to hide right? Lets all live in glass houses and get it over and done with. Probably better for the environment anyway, what with all those big stupid 'walls' that don't let natural sunlight and heat in.
Being able to take photos from a public place is a right we all have.
If a few idiots persue Google over this what will happen is we will get a raft of Whackysmith legislation banning us from using recording or record capable devices in yet more places to preserve yet more treasured memories.
Bad enough parents can no longer record their kids school plays, these guys want us to see them as champions of the people whilst they erode our civil liberties??
Google streetview is cool, it's useful, interesting and gives us a chance to see places we couldn't go to or review places we might want to go to, whether thats a holiday or just learning a route to a meeting/interview.
What's more they are quite happy to delete things that people don't or might not want recorded as we can see from the up-chuck scene http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/19/street_view_vomit/
Being able to use my camera in a public place is also cool and useful, if some twat in a foil hat takes that away from me I will be very upset.
Even blurring faces and number plates is going too far, IMO. It's the thin edge of a wedge that can be driven in further to make ordinary photography illegal. If Google can be sued for taking a picture of a street then why can't I?
These "privacy" dickheads shouldn't have anything to sue about, anyway as clearly none of them would ever venture out in public where someone might see them and even, horror of horrors, recognise them!
Not too sure about this
This could set a dangerous precedent for photographers not to be able to take pictures in public places.
Photographers are being harassed enough without a precedent being set.
the whole street view privacy thing is bollocks - people should concentrate on more pressing issues like CCTV in every pub and street corner, mass access to confidental detail (medical records), illegal dna retention, national identity register, id cards, and a range of other problems.
Some dicks ugly mug on some part of street view doesn't matter.
So what's the real story?
So what are the real problems GSV can cause?
And (quite separately from reality, I suspect, particularly with Davies' Phorm connection), what is Davies really on about? Since he's "not sure what exactly the legal basis of a challenge to the system" would be, does he have an actual issue? Or is what he's really on about that "consent is required for a photograph that is used commercially", and he really wants to be able to demand payment from Google for any appearances he makes on GSV?
I wouldn't normally want to accuse someone of developing a resemblance to a Belgian newspaper, but perhaps for a Phorm supporter it's only fair.
Google Maps blurs number plates......hmmmm??
Hoisting, own petard etc.
I think that their legal problems may stem from their own attempts as bluring faces. By doing so they have acknowledged there is a privacy issue here, which they say they have solved by using face blurring algorithms that do the job in all but a very few exceptional cases.
However they must be aware (if they have used Street View at all themselves, which one would assume they have!) that their algorithm is in fact not that good.
As an example, I spent about 10 minutes looking at the streets here in Oxford around the hospitals, and found any number of unblurred faces. Here are some of them, I haven't posted links to others including children and people going in and out of the hospitals themselves :
Near the JR & Manor hospitals :
Near the Churchill and Warnerford hospitals :
Given that it only took a short time to find this number (and more), Google really can't claim that its only exceptional cases that aren't blurred automatically. If they keep claiming that, knowing it is false, I think they are heading towards stormy waters. And if they acknowledge the problem, and don't fix it or withdraw Street View, they they likewise may find themselves in hot water, as by attempting the bluring in the first place have acknowledged a privacy issue.
so if a potential buyer goes to google maps to check the house out and then decides not to buy, where do you stand legally?
--but if you're a potential buyer and find that a car/house was a wreck a few months ago and has been quickly patched up where do you stand on avoiding years of financial hardship or legal debate?
We all get flustered over the video cameras at stoplights and on city streets but those are fixtures because they are city property.
--A large portion of CCTV is privately owned and afixed to private premises.
Most up and coming celebrities actually pay to have the attention and also tell the papa where they will be. Once they become famous enough that papa at photoing them if they happen to photograph a celeb with a picture of your wife and kid in the background you would probably win whatever you wanted to have yourself removed from the picture.
With streetview google should be required to pay the people of every city, township.... a fee to be there.
Why not have a camera at Every stop sign, at Every redlight. Those highspeed cameras can catch everything. The governments would make their money back in no time from all the tickets and fines. Want to live in 1984? Perhaps a camera in every bedroom, in every house. The cameras could help divorce attorneys with infidelity. Google wants cameras, lets's have cameras, how about google bedroomview, watch your neighbor cheat on his wife!
Cnut raileth against the camera
"Heres one last thing to consider, if cameras like this are good. Why not have a camera at Every stop sign, at Every redlight."
Because they'd be live feeds at that point and you're into a different area, although it's still not that big a deal if a) the cameras only cover public places, and b) EVERYONE can access them. The real problems start when only a select number of people are allowed to watch everyone else and/or the cameras intrude into private areas.
Let's face it: currently you are already able/liable to be photographed everywhere you go due to the number of phone cameras.
But nobody has complained....
"There still hasn't been a formal complaint put to the Information Commissioner, but we will ", so apart from this tw4t who really needs to get a life (or laid...) nobody has actually complained about the service.
@blurred number plates
well blurred number plates is one thing, but what about traffic laws?
or even driving in a straight line?
I had a look this morning. There were no ads and I certainly didn't fork out for the experience, so where is Google making a profit here? Similar thoughts occur whenever I use Google Earth, since I haven't paid for the premium version.
G**gle illegal under anti-terror legislation?
Presumably there is a high likelihood that somewhere on streetview will be pictures of police officers carrying out anti-terror duties, even in plain clothes. Highly illegal fifth-columnist behaviour. The law is an ass - could Simon Davies somehow not use this to the advantage of his case?
Outraged - I disagree. I don't think the doctrine that one should ignore lesser evils because there are greater evils holds water.
The Government keeps inventing new and novel ways to mess with my privacy. That bothers me.
People drive down public roads taking pictures of things publicly visible. That doesn't bother me.
People publish the pictures they took in a public place - for reasons of making money, or for recreational reasons. That doesn't bother me.
I'm all for defending our traditional expectations of privacy (even if some have argued that this is futile). I think trying to invent new ones is a bit of a non-starter
Do No Evil
People like Simon Davies really ought to be quite pleased, you know.
Experts like Bruce Schneier have been talking for years about the dangers of a surveillance society and made little headway against a general public that just doesn't realise what's possible now. Then Google come along saying "Here's a working demo." and suddenly everyone realises what the fuss is about.
Street View is *relatively* harmless and with millions of people browsing for curiousity it is likely that any really major gaffes will be publicised. If it provokes meaningful debate about governments spying on their own citizens and building large, flawed databases on them, I'd call it a pretty ethical privacy violation.
Simon says... Wrong logic AND wrong fight
As a keen amateur photographer, I completely reject any thinking that says it is unlawful to take photographs in a public place. For now, I am prepared to suspend judgment on Google street view and accept their assurance that if I reasonably want something taken down, they'll do it.
As to Google making a profit, go for it, Google! If it means I get, FREE, search, email, calendar, office, RSS newsreader, photo website, translator, then I'm really in favour of a bit of profit.
Now, Simon, what about Phorm and such? If you want to whine, at least whine about something worthwhile...
Bit rubbish this technology!
Google maps != CCTV
People seem to be conflating entirely different issues here in their objections.
Google is taking photographs, something which *all* of us have the right to do if it's in a *public* place and provided they do not use those in a defamatory way they are not breaking any laws, nor are they invading anyone's privacy. It is simply a record of what was there at a particular location at a particular time
CCTV (especially if/ when facial recognition technology is added) and ANPR are different matters because they are a method of tracking a person or a vehicle's movements in *real time* and then storing that information for possible use by the authorities at a later date.
The first is a right we all have, the second is an infringement of our right to go about our lawful business without let or hindrance and without having our movements being monitored by the state.
Where does this fit with anti-terrorism laws? Clearly Street View is useful to terrorists, just as it's useful to all of us. If a policeman or member of the armed services gets caught on camera, doesn't that automatically make Google into a terrorist organisation now?
re: Commercial Photography
"but said that it was an established legal principle that a person's consent is required for a photograph that is used commercially.
"There have been highly successful cases in the courts regarding celebrities who have not given consent for the commercial use of their images. That may or may not fall within the Data Protection Act. In any event we think there is enough case law for this to proceed, to form a basis for a challenge," he said."
I can take your picture and I can then publish it commercially, with or without your permission, as long as I don't make you out to be endorsing a message or service, nor committing an act of libel/slander, harrassment, etc, and that you were in public at the time I took the photograph.
The only case connected to this was the Naomi Campbell case, and the judge in that made it clear that the taking of the photograph wasn't the issue, nor the publication, but the fact that it was taken as the result of sharing information on her medical record that shouldn't have been shared.
So that angle won't work... sorry. (I is a photographer, innit)
One thing is clear ...
... from these comments.
Getting into bed with Phorm has not won Simon Davis many friends has it?
Missing the point
I think what most people have missed here, isn't that the blurring algorithm is buggy or what the legal issues on taking the photos are. The point is Google's response to the privacy concerns is that people can remove offending pictures just by asking; how do you know if you're in a street view picture in the first place? As far as I know wasn't present when any of the street view pictures where taken, but do I need to check all the places I've been in the last twelve months just to make sure that if I was pictured I've been blurred?
I think some more development and though needs to be put into this whole issue.