back to article Emotional arguments do not make Street View illegal

A privacy campaigner has vowed to bring a legal challenge over the launch of Google Street View in the UK. It is understandable that some people are uncomfortable with Google making an enormous photo album of 25 towns and cities, but that doesn't make it illegal. Privacy International's Simon Davies argues that Google should …

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Daftness

Got to laugh though people must get realy bored and think of new ways to sue compaines.

What are the chances of some 1 seeing you on google street view and then they see you in teh street?

9 times out of ten people dont take any notice.

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Coat

hum

"which gives everyone a right to respect for their privacy"

Shurly you shoul dhave a right to privacy , in the privacy of your own home.

These pictures are however, outside, in PUBLIC (note, not private)

should we all walk around with our eyes closed in case we offend someones right to privacy in public?

mines the trenchcoat with the dark glasses in the pocket.

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exactly right

And if Privacy International happens to win against google, it's another nail in the coffin of photographers rights, rights which are already being hammered.

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DM

Davies

Has he got any shred of credibility left?

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Anonymous Coward

Hur and Dur

Oh for gods sake. People will let the government trample all over their civil rights to the point at which CCTV cameras outnumber people, but when google takes a few censored, easily contested photographs of streets people happen to be using, its wrong?

You can be put on a DNA database for life without commiting a crime, and nobody cares, but someone (potentially) puts a blurred picture of you walking down the street on the internet and theres an outcry?

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Anonymous Coward

Not sure this adds up

A court might consider that as Google introduced this service un-asked for then it's their problem to ensure privacy, no matter how difficult that is.

They may also take the view that occasional street scenes published in a book, or even on-line, are entirely different to anyone being able to bring up an almost 3D image of my house (street view plus looking from above).

The argument of utility isn't likely to carry much weight, as there isn't really that much utility :-)

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"Hi, it's Google! Smile everybody"

That would have been great, most people would have struck a silly pose or smiled like a loon.

Would have made the UK seem like party-town, as opposed to the sue-happy US's little brother.

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Alert

Publically Accessible Information.

Its what Burqa's were invented for.

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Storm in a tea cup

Also people get really, an rightly, upset when the cops try to stop people taking street pictures.

If someone wanted to get a snap of your house they just walk up and press a button, what is the fuss about google ? Likewise the fuss about pictures of police stations and the such is rubbish.

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Important difference

The idea that you don't have an expectation of privacy in a public place is reasonable, but presumes that the only thing you are worried about is being seen *at the time*. When your picture can be taken and posted on the Internet for all and sundry to see, it's a different ball game.

Besides which, surely it's only a matter of time before a Google Street View car unwittingly takes a photo which unfortunately happens to portray a child in a state of undress. Then Google Street View is suddenly kiddie pr0n and we're all nonces.

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TV News Coverage

I was amused last week, to see some TV reporters doing "on-location" reporting from the streets of London, and asking passers-by what they thought of Google's "evil scheme" to photograph everyone's houses.

Neither the BBC, ITV or Channel 4 News bothered to blank out the faces of the people walking by in the background.

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Stop

One rule for them

I'm sorry, I have to disagree. Useful does not automatically equal good or legal. The ICO's job is to uphold the law surely.

I might find 10 people who would find a fast car useful. It doesn't mean we can go and nick one. But when it's our privacy, we are expected to think large-scale intrusion is normal, and everything normal is expected to be legal. We get the same thing all the time in other fields. (e.g. "We have to approve human cloning, it's the only way we can run science now"; "we have to allow torture of terror suspects, everyone else is doing it".) But this is backwards - the law should determine the norm!

Of course, if the police think you might be doing something a bit terrorist-like with a camera, you'll be going down the station, especially if you're not white-skinned. If you're a multinational corporation mapping the UK in a way obviously of some use to terrorists, but ostensibly for the aim of large-scale profit, carry on. Profit is good, after all. We'll make the laws fit.

Intent matters when you're Google. Intent matters when you're an individual too, but the police assume your intent is bad. The fact that one person's small photo album could not possibly be used for anything dodgy and can't be accessed by anyone else is irrelevant.

Now, let's assume their face and numberplate fuzzing fails 5% of the time (estimated from looking at their images). While a good score for the technology, this is in reality unacceptable. No one person has photographed more than 5% of the UK I would hazard, so no-one has done more than Google. Therefore no-one else should ever be told off for taking pictures. The fact you can have your image removed is utterly irrelevant. You won't find out about it being up there until everyone else does, and any damage is done.

Big biz & the gov think they run us. This is also backwards.

BTW I haven't been burned by GSV (as far as I can tell) or police stopping my photography. The stories I read of those who have are scary enough to make me write this.

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Jobs Halo

What? Me, worry?

I really don't care very much about Googlecams possibly capturing a vague shot of me on the street - UNLESS all details are being made available to our 2nd-Home Secretary and her evil henchmen - in which case I object vehemently and even violently, as soon as I find some like-minded souls with whom I might commit conspiracy...

If it remains "internet only", I am far less worried, since I believe "Jackboots" could be kept quiet for months on end by giving her an Etch-a-Sketch, and telling her it was a laptop. "Yes, your second-homeness, hold it upside-down and shake to reboot..."

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Happy

@Not sure this adds up

"The argument of utility isn't likely to carry much weight, as there isn't really that much utility :-)"

Sorry pal, it does have utility - yesterday I used Street View to see where I'm going on Friday, find a nearby car park and plot my route from the car park to the restaurant.

It's a pretty cool application really...

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Anonymous Coward

simple answer

Just go through all of streetview's pictures of the whole country and report every single one of them that contains a person, as being recognisably you, and demand it's removal.

A concerted effort over the net shouldn't be too hard

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But surely

By taking my photo they're stealing my soul...

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Bug
Black Helicopters

Sod google what about the gov and lack of privacy

It amazes me that so many people are complaining about loss of privacy from street view which is a single one time snapshot taken in the past and publicly shown with the option of having your image removed or blurred, but all these people say nothing about the constant LIVE video of their lives which are collected and maintained by the government, security agencies and numerous private organisation via CCTV, and all the other numerous databases the government has/building. Maybe Google should say that "it's for the children" or to "prevent terrorists" it works for the idiots in parliament.

For example the guy who was unhappy about being seen entering (or leaving cannot remember) a sex shop, when via CCTV the government can watch him enter and leave, where he came from and where he went. If the shop has CCTV he can be watched all the time he was in the store and possibly show what he bought, if not shown on CCTV then his credit card details will show what and when he bought. Then when he uses he phone, internet, mobile, drives anywhere the government want to store AND cross reference all those details as well and he's worried about a single photo online, strange priorities.

Still I can see Google taking the flack and the government praying no-one has a go at them for their extreme surveillance. Also lets be honest here the Google cars are not really subtle or undercover are they? Small car with dirty great big post on top with loads of cameras. If the government was the same then at least you would have a chance of spotting it and avoiding them.

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...taken deliberately, in secret...

Has he SEEN those cars? I mean unless you had your back to them you can hardly call the two-foot poles stuck to the tops of those cars secret, covert or hidden in any way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hum

@AC

" should we all walk around with our eyes closed in case we offend someones right to privacy in public? "

There's a difference between a transitory sighting and a permanent record available to all and sundry.

When I'm in the street, I am only seen by the people who are in the street at the same time as me. If that street is in a different town from where I live, the chances of someone I know being in the exact same street at the exact same moment as I re-emerge from a brothel or my mistress's house are extremely low.

But if I were to be snapped by streetview wearing one of my distinctive self-designed garments, anyone who looks at that street and knows me will know all about it.

There's such a humungous difference I really wonder if you are serious.

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Coat

Simple solution

If you see a GoogleMobile coming down your street, run outside and get your todger out.

Seems to be the most efficient way of getting images removed from Street View.

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@Anonymous Coward

"Oh for gods sake. People will let the government trample all over their civil rights to the point at which CCTV cameras outnumber people, but when google takes a few censored, easily contested photographs of streets people happen to be using, its wrong?

You can be put on a DNA database for life without commiting a crime, and nobody cares, but someone (potentially) puts a blurred picture of you walking down the street on the internet and theres an outcry?"

Well said that man.

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Agreed

What AC, 13:02 said. I really don't understand why the massive fuss over StreetView, when the police (i.e. ACPO) can announce an ambition to "record every car journey in Britain" to seeming complete indifference.

Is it just that you can look up Google at home or office and get a nice picture, while ANPR archiving is an abstract govt-only closed system, so people can't visualise what it is doing in their lives? I fear it might be.

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Black Helicopters

Isn't it ironic?

... that Simon Davies didn't believe Phorm was that intrusive?

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Syd
Paris Hilton

Scott McNealy summed it up...

... albeit not very tactfully.

"You have zero privacy anyway - get over it!"

(Paris... 'cos she hasn't got any either!)

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Anonymous Coward

Private or public

So Google has taken indiscriminate photos from a public place of (predominantly) private property purely for commercial gain and that's OK? Of course a clever ploy of Google's was to call it 'Street View' as 'Private Property View' which would not have gone down so well.

Is it illegal? Well I have already seen photos of the inside of houses which can be against the law (voyeurism) though nobody seems concerned about this. The picture they took of a naked child is illegal though I'll bet they'll not be prosecuted.

Another case of the creep to numb people to their right to privacy.

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My main worry

is that it is absolutely completely useless.

Im trying to find a use for it. I cant use it to see what someones house looks like before I go (I live at number 57 and its labelled as 34). I cant see what a shop looks like before I go there. (Southampton is largely pedestrianised and they dont take their cars there). So whats the point.? On the down side you can see straight through all of the windows on the other side of the street. On some houses you can even tell the model of the television. How on earth is that possible usefull to anyone other than burglars? I am truly amazed that google spent so much money on this.

The only thing it has achieved is changing my preception of google from 'ok company' to police / government puppet.

Its a neat idea, but couldnt they have kept everyone happy by picturing only shopping steets and town centres, rather than the opposite?

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Anonymous Coward

Just wear

hoodies and ski masks, there you go problem solved.

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Anonymous Coward

The Google fanbois are busy today

Farting in a lift isn't illegal either but we all know it shouldn't be done.

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Paris Hilton

Ask Paris,

You can be photographed in all sorts of places without being able to do anything about it, as long as the image portrays fact ie. something that actually happened.

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Ridiculous

I have to say that while I usually support the very important work which P.I. undertakes, on this issue I'm afraid Simon risks turning him and his organisation into a laughing stock over a very tricial non-issue, completely invalidating the important real campaign work they do.

Simon, think again!

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Both sides missing the point entirely

The ICO passed Street View because its blurring technology 'would' remove faces and number plates.

It doesn't. It doesn't work properly. There are thousands of both clearly visible.

So what happens next? Please don't tell me 'Nothing; Google carry on doing what they like, while everyone is distracted by Davies and Robertson playing is isn't is isn't.'

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Go

Awwww

My House isn't even covered. Infact i cant find a picture of me on their at all. they havent even covered my area. buggers.

I think we should have the automatic right to be on the photos. I want the chance to be mooning from my house as the camera passes by.

surely thats my right as a human!!!

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Stop

Nope...

If you're in your own home, or somebody else's home, or a private building or function, then privacy should be all yours.

If you're out in public, you have no right to 'privacy' whatsoever. You're choosing to put yourself in that domain for others to see. The fact that 'others' now means potentially millions if people doesn't change that fact. This applies in the same way as television crews filming a football game. If you attend, you're giving up your right to privacy.

If your main concern is avoiding being caught out at adultery, your main task was to simply avoid the google camcars. That's not really much different from avoiding bumping into someone who knows you, in that it's a random element. What next? Request that an entire street be closed down so that no-one can catch you out doing rumpy pumpy where you shouldn't be?

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Anonymous Coward

@"It's not useful"

It's most definitely useful - a few days ago my wife was traveling and ended up lost in the ass-end of New Jersey late at night. She called me up. She knew she was in the parking lot of a Burger King near to a certain exit, so I business-searched, found the BK, and looked at street view to corroborate her position. And because I could see the parking lot and BK sign from street view, I could easily tell her which direction to go, and confirm landmarks -as she was driving- so we knew she was headed the right way.

I've also used Streetview to find business in Manhattan - which are often uber-difficult to find even with a building number.

The fact that you lack the imagination to use a service doesn't mean it's not useful.

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Happy

usefulness

Actually, I find it quite useful for locating stores/shops in London.

Conversations with friends about restaurants is so much easier with a quick street view link about the location.

I've also used it to ascertain what happened to a particular shopping mall (well circa Summer 2008).

I also use google maps for directions quite a lot, so I think having a 3 D pictorial presentation is pretty useful!

Small minor things that don't exactly contribute to the progression/development of the human race, but if you're going to get that picky, you shouldn't be reading the comments but doing VSO or some charity work!

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Joke

Sue them!

I'm going to sue them for millions as their face blurring software failed to blur the face of my cat who just happened to be sitting on my front door step when they went past my house with their evil privacy-destroying vans!

Think of the kittens!

Mr Angry

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Not essential, but life-enhancing

I've just used it to show a friend around Cambridge. We took a sort of virtual walking tour of the city and I pointed out various colleges and pubs and where to hire a punt from. The fact that we were both on different continents and neither of us in the UK didn't matter at all. I love the internet.

Incidentally, it's a good thing that cameras came out before the privacy nuts really got going or I doubt their use would be allowed by anyone except licensed photographers - and the government.

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Black Helicopters

CCTV

I think the comparison between Street View and surveillance CCTV is interesting. The factoid that the average citizen is captured 300 times per day on CCTV has been shown to be a canard:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/david_aaronovitch/article5834725.ece

However, there is a legitimate concern about surveillance in the UK. Street View allows persons unknown to access images of you in a public place. CCTV allows persons unknown to access images of you in public *and* private places.

The difference is that you can see the images in Street View and ask that they be removed. You cannot practicably do the same with CCTV.

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Unhappy

@alan

"Sorry pal, it does have utility - yesterday I used Street View to see where I'm going on Friday, find a nearby car park and plot my route from the car park to the restaurant."

How on earth did you cope in the real world without it?? Agree it's a very cool application, but this sounds very much like trying to find a problem to match the solution if ever I heard one!

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@It wasnt me

I find it very useful. As an example, if you use google maps to get directions, just click on one of the directions (Turn right on 17th Street). Street view then shows you the intersection, along with a line showing the path you will take. And when I actually drive it, I know what to look for, so I can pay more attention to driving. Making it safer for myself and other drivers.

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@John Curry

I agree, but with a caveat. I think Google should have to perform automatic window-blurring in residential areas -- so that nickable goods and naked people are a lot less likely to be shown.

Personally, I would like to see full-body blurring too, though I'm not _that_ bothered if I'm caught on it.

I am usually very protective about my privacy, however, I don't expect people not to look at me in public and as long as people aren't taking a picture of _me_ specifically then I can't say it bothers me to be caught on camera.

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Wait, what?

Do we actually have a right to privacy in public places then?

And if so why are we subjected to endless tabloid bottom-feeders ramming pictures of this or that celebrity looking a bit peaky/fat/drunk/pregnant down our collective throat? If google taking pictures of a street and inadvertantly filming passers by without their permission is even slightly illegal, how come the paperazi can make a living by deliberately filming people when they don't want to be?

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Anonymous Coward

I object!

I object to having the pit of hell that is my home town held up to public ridicule on the intertubes.

Anon because I don't want to be held up to public ridicule, either.

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I thought it was quite amusing...

...complaining about NI Cop shops. All the ones I know have lights, razor wire and huge wire and concrete fences.

Not as if they weren't conspicuous for anyone wishing to case the joint...

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Paris Hilton

People hate it

When you take photographs of them in the street.

What are you doing? What are you going to do with the pictures? Etc.

Then if they can't come up with a valid or real reason for you not to take their picture, such as being on private land such as a shopping mall, they will accuse you of all sorts of things.

Its just a basic defensive response, to something they/we don't understand. The Dilbert Principle in action, if you will.

Paris because everyone's seen a photograph of her street

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Coat

I have no problem

but if some of this lot get their way - every time I take a snap of my girlfriend or my son in the street, I am going to effectively ask every person in the background for their permission!!

Its hard enough being a photographer as it is - and it is currently not illegal to take pictures in the street (although I didn't say that to the HUGE security guard at Canary Warf who told me that I need permission from the buildings owners...).

Mines the one with a Canon DSLR round the neck, Olympus compact in the left pocket and Sony Ericsson c902 in the right!

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Black Helicopters

@ Slik Fandango

"Its hard enough being a photographer as it is - and it is currently not illegal to take pictures in the street (although I didn't say that to the HUGE security guard at Canary Warf who told me that I need permission from the buildings owners...)."

That's ridiculous!! I'd have argued for yonks with him and asked him to explain all the tourists that are snapping away at 1 Canada Sq.

You should have shown him a picture of Tower Bridge from London Bridge with Canary Wharf hazily in the distance - what's his plan for stopping that? Or picture out a plane window having taken off from City Airport (I have both those pictures)

Suddenly panics and ticks the AC box...

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Anonymous Coward

Blurring of valuable equipment??!!

A couple of people have mentioned that windows should be blurred so that valuable equipment isn't on view! How ridiculous - the thought that some criminal would use google streetview to case a joint rather than, I dunno, just walking down the street in real-life... Anyone with the wit to pre-plan a crime would surely go in person to make a much more detailed investigation with their eyeballs.

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Amateurs

Flick, Picassa, and a whole load of other picture sites have street photographs taken by amateurs. Many are even geo-tagged and searchable. I don't see a lot of difference between that and Google's stuff, save that the latter is more systematic.

Perhaps we should ban photographs from the internet, for the sake of the children.

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Stop

Car crime here we go!

Im very glad that my nice Lotus lives in a barn and is no longer parked outside my old house where google could snap and publicize it to anyone who wanted to nick it.

Lets make a nice interactive map of the best cars (or bikes) or even pedal bikes to nick and see if that gets anyones attention.

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