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back to article Google to delete Street View source images

European privacy watchdogs have demanded that Google delete the original images behind its Street View service. The company has said it will comply with the demand in the "long term". Street View has raised privacy concerns wherever it has launched but the UK's privacy regulator the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has …

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Who the fuck cares?

My wife and (main)dog and I are clearly visible in several of google's north-bay pictures of the Napa, Sonoma, Santa Rosa and Petaluma vicinity. (We walk a lot ... In some circles, walking is known as a healthy activity).

How can ANYONE be so paranoid as to worry about random photos accidentally capturing them in a random activity in a public area?

The mind boggles ...

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Backups

It's one thing to promise to remove confidential data or images after a certain period but I often wonder whether data retention promises/policies are also implemented upon a company's backup strategy (not just for Google but *any* company or government department).

I expect organisations could hide behind the fact that backed-up data is not easily accessible and, therefore, isn't subject to the same retention laws or policies. I'm sure backups must be covered in law but wonder just how many companies overlook their backups when it comes to implementing specific data retention periods.

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Wrong way round, surely?

"the software sometimes makes mistakes, labelling part of the image as containing a face or a license plate when in fact it doesn't."

Surely the privacy aspect is where the software *fails* to recognise a face or a number plate, and thus doesn't blur it.

I can't imagine too many people complaining that the slot in a letter box, or top of a Belisha beacon[1] for instance, would be incorrectly blurred for looking like a number plate or a face.

[1] Okay, that'd be a pretty big face!

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google maps

Lets hope Google don't delete there images before fixing some of the school boy error is there street view maps, the classic being in soho where they have the street going through some buildings not where it should be going.

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&q=Wardour+Mews,+Westminster,+London+W1F,+United+Kingdom&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=23.06853,67.675781&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=Fa4NEgMdte79_w&split=0&ll=51.514725,-0.135634&spn=0.011804,0.033045&z=16&iwloc=A&layer=c&cbll=51.514579,-0.135321&panoid=MCemzIC6ypYpPhThpSw5eQ&cbp=12,59.84,,0,5

Ps. yes it was reported on the first day Street View was released, Google are as speedy as Apple at fixing their errors.

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"False postitives"

"the software sometimes makes mistakes, labelling part of the image as containing a face or a license plate when in fact it doesn't," says Google.

What they curiously fail to mention is false negatives - when faces aren't blurred that should be.

Spin, spin, spin.

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Linux

Why?!

What is the point in it. Im not bothered that Google has a snapshot of one second of my life on an image. The goverment hold more that with CCTV footage.

But like they said.

The originals are needed. If theyre software went haywire and blanked half the image. What will they do?

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Anonymous Coward

Apart from exceptions

like people relocated by the police for protection reasons, witness, abusive partners, threats made against them I really can't see the issue here. How is your privacy invaded if you are seen in a public place?

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Stop

Are you not listening?

@zerofool200 "The goverment hold more that with CCTV footage" Is it available to everyone on the tintarweb? I think not, thats the point.

@jake Ditto

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Paris Hilton

History!!!

They should either keep the originals under tight lock and key or turn them over to a 3rd party that would do so.

This is very important stuff for history!! High quality images of entire areas of Europe...things that nobody else may have bothered to photograph. Think of how useful this is for people hundreds of years from now.....especially on the local level for those who want to look back in time at their own city.

Paris, because she knows all about recording events for posterity.

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Paris Hilton

The EU (and this article 29 crowd) are a pack of idiots

It is only people who are doing something they shouldn't be doing who are paranoid about this. Just like ZeroFool2005 says, everyone's faces and probably more are going to be on hundreds or thousands of other cameras here there and everywhere and CCTV records non-stop - these are one-off snaps.

Get a grip you State Nannies. This is a valuable piece of software and an excellent service for the public.

Paris because even she doesn't mind someone invading her, ahem, "privacy".

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Happy

@Kevin King

"Lets hope Google don't delete there images..."

What were you saying about schoolboy errors?

Sorry - couldn't resist!

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@Pete 5

'It is only people who are doing something they shouldn't be doing who are paranoid about this'

Nothing to hide - nothing to fear? The same tired argument that they try and use to force ID cards on us. As has been proven by debate time and time again that statement simply isn't true.

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Happy

Why are you Paranoid?

The google car drove past me a few weeks ago, I made the point of stopping and looking straight at the camera.

Why? Because I am not some paranoid idiot who has a problem with being photographed. If it drives past my house I will not worry either because I look my doors when leaving and realise that there will not be a single thief looking at Google to case their next job.

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FFS

This gets boring, privacy nuts, so bothered about these images of nameless people in the street, I'd best go change my pin number quick, I feel at risk!!

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Anonymous Coward

Doing something they shouldn't ?

Who says I shouldn't be doing that ?

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Unhappy

One rule for them, another for us!

I'm really sad Google is giving way on this. It further undermines the right of any individual to take street photos (don't tell me about the law - just try it in London and see how long before the plod get interested).

Meanwhile people who don't want to be seen should stay indoors ... probably a very good idea for us too! Google streetview is probably of greater value to me than my 'paid-for' cctv surveillance of myself by bored spooks.

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@ Alan Eastham

Cool, can I follow you around taking pics whenever I feel like it and then publish them on my website?

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@various

@ Paul Slater:

"Surely the privacy aspect is where the software *fails* to recognise a face or a number plate, and thus doesn't blur it."

That's another argument - this ruling only relates to what Google does with the unblurred source imagery, not the publically available imagery.

@ Handle:

"What they curiously fail to mention is false negatives - when faces aren't blurred that should be."

It's not curious that they didn't mention it, because in the context of this ruling it's not relevant - a false negative can be fixed without having the original image, a false positive can't...

@AC@10:06:

Absolutely! As someone with an interest in urban history and industrial archaeology, if GSV had been around even for just the past 20-odd years (let alone any further back in time) you'd never be able to prise me away from my PC - I'm in my mid 30's now, can still just about recall how the area I grew up in looked before the mass urban regeneration programmes of the latter 20th century erased practically every trace of so many interesting pieces of history, and would love to be able to take a virtual walk/drive back down memory lane. So I have no difficulty in imagining how seriously useful a resource the existing batch of GSV imagery will be at some point in the future - whilst it may just seem like a monumental waste of time and money to some people right now, it's anything but.

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Public places

"How is your privacy invaded if you are seen in a public place?"

The trouble is unless you're a complete hermit, every single private place you visit has to be accessed by a public place. Which means that if you have all the information on what you do in "public places", you actually have quite a lot of information that any normal person would consider private:

Where you live (that place where you enter public space every day)

Where you work (that place where you leave public space at 9 and reenter at 5)

Where your children go to school (that place where they leave public space at 9 and reenter at 4)

Where you shop

Where your wife works and shops

Where you go to the pub

Whom you associate with (by watching who leaves public space at the same times and places you do)

Whom you don't associate with, but can be reasonably suspected of associating with

Who your dealer is (don't use dealers? don't worry, you will soon, unless you're a teetotal vegan)

Etc.

If the rule is "if it's in a public place, then there's no problem who knows it" then you've got no reason to complain. If there's zero worry if they know some of it then there's zero worry if they know all of it. Personally, I think you shouldn't just go by what they know, but also by who knows it, and what their motives are, and whether they can be trusted. I have no problem with some random tourist I'll never see again taking a picture including me, I get slightly worried about a mammoth multinational (but nonetheless private) corporation having several pictures of me because it's obsessed with data; and I am justifiably paranoid about a sociopathic state watching me constantly to see if I break some stupid rule it made up yesterday.

This short-sighted misapprehension that knowledge about what you do in "public space" is totally harmless to you comes up again and again, whether it's Google or GPS or CCTV or whatever, and needs to stop.

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Anonymous Coward

Fools giving away my privacy, and re: backups

The thing with privacy is that when someone is willing to give their privacy away, they are usually perfectly willing to give away other people's privacy too - people that may care about their privacy.

So when some one doesn't realise that companies change over time, as do laws, especially if that person has a poor knowledge of history, advocating anti-privacy is incredibly stupid and short-sighted.

As for back ups, I'd say they count as a relevant filing system when it comes to holding personal information, so if you write to an organisation to tell them you don't want them holding your info then make sure you mention the back ups. It will also cost them a huge amount of time and effort to get the back ups back on site and edited, making data-whoring a less profitable business model.

For example, I had some spam from one of those financial service comparison sites that I didn't want, so I asked them to remove me from their lists. Seeing as how they think spamming is acceptable, and I don't, I will never be using their service again, so they might as well remove all the personal data they hold on me too. This is how I asked them to remove my data:

"You will also delete any information from all relevant filing systems,

including file servers, database servers, email servers, live systems,

backups, off site backups, mirrors, redundant systems, copies of data in

snapshots, database exports, cached data, employee workstations,

employee email accounts, personal address books on employee

workstations, print outs, photocopies etc.. All paperwork in all

offices, data centres or storage will need to be examined to make sure

it contains none of my personal data. If I think that any of these have

been overlooked, I will be contacting the DPO."

I do care about my privacy and the privacy of others, but as there are so many fools out there willing to give away my privacy when they throw away theirs I go extra far when the law is on my side, to make businesses realise that data whoring is not acceptable. Businesses speak money only, so hit them with costs, and lots of them!

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@Stephen Gray

"Cool, can I follow you around taking pics whenever I feel like it and then publish them on my website?"

There is a difference between stalking & map-making. One is real-time (and illegal in most jurisdictions). The other shows terrain as it appeared when last surveyed, usually at some undefined time in the past, with little bearing on today's reality on anything other than a macro level. Spot the difference, win a cookie (that's a biscuit to you Brits).

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Anonymous Coward

Amusing...

I always find it amusing when you see their software has correctly identified faces and blurred them out... On bill boards and bus shelter adverts :-)

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You have got thousands of cameras watching every move and you worry about google ...

Ha!!! You have cameras of every move you make on the street, and you worry about google photos???

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@jake Posted Tuesday 16th June 2009 07:41 GMT

As any good terrorist will be taught at suicide bomber training camp; Location, location, location!

And while we're at it, Guilt by association, wrong time wrong place, etc.

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@jake

Ah but jake, I'm taking pictures of the things that you are stood in front of not you, so according to you that's perfectly OK and is not stalking. Ho hum, its about consent, I don't consent to AN Other company (that's a corporation to you Yanks) taking pictures of me and publishing those pictures without my consent, generating revenue from those images without my consent and then having the audacity to make me have to chase them so that I can get them removed. If the government chooses to snoop I can vote them out, however a faceless company resident in AN Other country coming to my street, taking pictures of my house and me, telling me "its for the greater good" can FUCK RIGHT OFF. You give up your privacy if you wish that's your choice. I on the other hand value mine and whilst I cannot stop CCTV and other forms of snooping I am at least protected from any invasion of my privacy as those images are not freely available to anyone with an internet connection. So in conclusion, ask me if I consent to the publishing of any images of my house or myself and I may well say Yes, don't ask me and I will sue, are we clear? Good show.

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Paris Hilton

@ Spleen

The Google Street-View image says nothing, even if you can be identified, except that you were at a certain point on a certain day. There is no way to know whether you're shopping locally or not, visiting a friend or going into your own house, paying a business call or entering the premises of your own employer, and so on. Frankly, anyone who can use Street-View to determine the relevance of the image to your daily routine must by definition know a fair bit about you already - so the Street-View image won't make much difference anyway.

Paris because she knows all about public displays.

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@Stephen Gray

Stephan, two things ... First of all, ordinance survey maps provide far more detail than google. I know which I'd use if planning anything nefarious.

Secondly, neither you nor I nor anyone else reading ElReg[1] is important enough to display the level of paranoia that you are. We are little people. We don't matter in the great scheme of things. Anybody with any intent of harming us IN ANY WAY has already got RealLife[tm], real time access to us and our stuff. Things like google don't enter the equation.

For the record, I've found myself in six places on google maps. Four are me & the wife walking our (main)dog, one is me dragging the outdoor arena, and the last is me letting the dog out of the back of the Ford Explorer. The dog is a whippet, the Explorer is green, and the tractor I use in the arena is a bright orange Kubota. I live in Sonoma County, California, USA. My real name is jake, and my phone number is listed. Find me.

What? Not enough information to go on? I've given you a hell of a lot more information that you can get from google maps!

[1] OK, maybe Sarah Bee has a few teenage boy stalkers, but I hardly think they are anything to worry about.

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Cant be arsed to explain consent

Consent, do you understand? No? Have a nice day.

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Consent.

You are viewable in a public place. Consent is implied. Get used to it.

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Stop

All of google street view should be deleted.

So what if faces are (mostly) blurred? People can still be identified, as well as having photos of their house, car and garden available for any potential burglar to look at.

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@AC 20:12

"People can still be identified, as well as having photos of their house, car and garden available for any potential burglar to look at."

Null argument. The wife & I just walked around the Plaza in Sonoma, and were identified (recognised) by many people (::gasp::). We actually stopped and talked to a few of them (horror!). Lots of people have seen the house, vehicles and garden(OH-NOEZ!!1!).

In fact, we use a few of the vehicles to advertise this place ... and we even have signs pointing to us. I have a WWW page, with a few better photos of the place from the air and street than anything google is likely to put up. Some of our clients have pictures of us up on their WWW page, too. We encourage it. It's good advertising. And guess what? Despite millions of dollars worth of equipment in unlocked barns, we have seen no burglars. Might be the dawgs, might be that I'm known to shoot varmints. Who knows.

Please remember that any potential burglar has RealLife[tm], real time access to your possessions, by definition. No potential thief is going to use google. Google doesn't know about my dawgs, nor does google know that I can and will shoot to protect my livestock. The crackheads in the Springs district do, though, and they leave us alone.

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