Google has turned the boys in blue red with rage by refusing to hand over private data except by court order. Police want to trace a vehicle snapped by Google's Street View cameras next to a caravan that was stolen shortly afterwards. The thief struck in June 2009, while the Soanes family, from Linton, Derbyshire, were out. …
The police dont have a leg to stand on...
What a waste of time from the cops. They would be guaranteed to get a court order within a day or two to get the license plate and then they would be on their way.
But to try and demand that Google breach privacy laws and hand over data, just to save the cops a day or two (which no doubt they have wasted anyway in trying to force Google's hand and going to the media with their whinging), is an utter disgrace.
For once, and i dont think ive ever said this before, but Go Google... The law is the law, its about time the police learned that it applies to them too!
Fail icon because thats what the police have done this time!
Aaaaand normality is restored
After defending plod over retaining 999 caller data I'm back to thinking they're a bunch of arrogant shitebags who think they're above the law.
I think this is hilarious. First all of these governments start razzing on Google for not taking privacy seriously. Now they are complying and the governments are getting angry? You cannot have it both ways.
I applaud Google for what they are doing here. They are following the instructions and the law to a T. As they should.
Not a breach
It doesn't have to be a breach of privacy laws. There is scope in the law for this to be provided totally lawfully for the prevention and detection of crime without the added time and cost to the taxpayer of obtaining a court order for the release of a single image which could easily exonerate the registered keeper of the vehicle. Google undoubtedly knows this if they have an even halfway competent data protection officer. Oh, wait...
On the other hand, going to the media with the whinging? Agreed, that's an epic fail for Dibble.
@L1feless "Now they are complying and the governments are getting angry?"
The government is unconcerned - its the dickhead plod who doesn't understand.
As has been indicated
This really does demonstrate the contempt that serving officers have for the law they are supposed to enforce.
So... get a court order. DUH.
Why don't the feds stop bleating and get a fecking court order instead? I'm sure Google will give them the data within hours if not minutes.
Coppers're the first to whine about proper procedure when it SUITS them to.
Feds ? Where do you think we are, USA ?.
Good for Google...
For sticking to their guns on this one, the UK is aleady half way to being a police state and it's exactly these kind of checks and balances which must be protected from errosion at all costs!
@ already half way to being a police state, the UK IS a POLICE STATE
You sound too light on this number, more like 90%.
Passwords or prison; ACPO thinks it IS the law and makes money by selling various law related items; check/delete those photographs; train-spotting in supporting terrorism.
You name it and British Plod is busy organising your lives.
Why do we elect a government?
qui custodiet ipsos custodes
Good for Google
I might have to re-assess my opinion of Google following this news, good on them for not handing over private information without question and respecting data protection laws. Of course Google should not be holding on to the unedited images to begin with, so whatever goodwill this gesture earns will probably be short-lived.
I guess I have to believe that the Police feel their request for a court order will be rejected otherwise they would have done it months ago, it's a routine procedure for them so the only other explanation is incompetence.
The law only works if it applies to everyone, the Police included, even if that sometimes means the bad guys get away then that's a price worth paying.
Why shouldnt Google keep the unblurred images?
Its a minimal privacy threat, as limited Google employees would have access, and they probably need the originals for improving their blurring and stitching algorithms.
The point of the blurring is to prevent users from seeing stuff which it does very well.
Quite right too
Decisions about when to hand over private data to a state authority are rarely black & white, even though in this case it might seem obvious. Neither Google nor the police are trained to make such decisions (nor should they make them), which is exactly why the courts, and procedures like court orders, exist.
Spending public money to ensure that the public is safeguarded is not a waste, it's an investment, and it's sad that a Tory MP, of all people, can't see that.
Why so surprised
A politician ill-conceivedly jumping on a bandwagon they know woefully little about, par for the course that is!
P.S. I'd imagine that to a politican, all money is wasted if not spent linning their pockets
Google, the company of two faces!
Waving the privacy flag one minute, reaping all the free publicity for being the upstanding company for people's rights. Then the very next minute collecting WiFi info without asking and bending over backwards to help large eastern countries when the local Government want the dirt on some suspected dissidents!
Another reason to avoid Google whenever possible.
Benjamin Button? Is that you?
Oh and the Police Never waste public money?!?!
Good on Google,
If you want access to Confidential data, there's a protocol, follow it.
And that protocol...
...is to get a job driving the street view car with an HDD to store the slurped wifi data.
I thought they weren't allowed to keep this
Didn't the government demand that Google delete the un-blurred data from their systems? Or am I just making that up?
Yeah that's what I thought
There may have been more recent updates, but a quick search shows that back in March 2010 the EU demanded that Google delete the unblurred images after 6 months. At the time Google said their policy was to delete them after 12 months. Either way, if this happened (and was photographed) in June 2009, the unblurred pics should have been long gone by November 2010 when this was apparently first raised with Google.
So my guess would be that either a) Google are taking the piss, knowing full well they don't have them any more, or b) if it's possible to recover the data from backups, they want a proper court order (which possibly then allows them to recover the costs), before they make any efforts to recover the image from backup since it's unlikely to be a quick and easy job considering the mass of data they have.
It's also possible that Google were alerted to the possibility of this picture being needed before it was routinely deleted, so they retained a copy in the expectation of an official request (i.e. a court order) being received in due course. Pretty standard procedure in other industries.. one does not want to be accused of destroying evidence, after all..
... also, with backups ...
If it is in fact possible to recover the images they're supposed to have deleted from backups, wouldn't it be JUST LIKE the EU or UK to then try to prosecute them for not deleting/still having the images available?
Thus, on top of all the other reasons why Google are 100% correct in requesting a court order, they probably feel that having the court order for recovering/supplying the photo will give them a warm and cozy feeling around their backsides...
Fire - because that's what you use to get a warm cozy feeling...?
Policing by consent
Historically, policing in GB is meant to be undertaken through consent rather than by government fiat: that is why we have local police authorities, and pay for policing (at least partly) through local taxation. Policing is not an arm of government.
So if the local police want Google to disclose personal information about a third party, there has to be an "approval" mechanism for the request. That mechanism is a court order. I am simply appalled at the MP not understanding this.
I fully agree with you, but... if you're going to get all constitutional, remember that a local MP is the elected representative OF THE PEOPLE. That's the whole point. Neither the government, nor the civil service, nor The Queen, nor the courts, nor anyone else (other than the electorate at an election) can dictate to MPs what to do, because MPs are the representatives of the people and the people rule supreme. (That's why we the people have to be careful what we wish for in the wake of things like the expenses scandal. If we decide we want some nameless bureaucracy to have authority over our elected representatives we can of course choose to do so, as long as we recognise that we're indirectly diminishing some of our our power in the process. We don't elect the civil servants, only the MPs who are subject to the civil servants' rules.)
If anyone can tell the police what to do it precisely is your local MP or local councillor (NOT the government!) who should be doing so because that is their job, to stand up for what the people want - you just said the policing is supposed to be by consent of the people.
[quote]Neither the government, nor the civil service, nor The Queen, nor the courts, nor anyone else (other than the electorate at an election) can dictate to MPs what to do, because MPs are the representatives of the people and the people rule supreme.[/quote]
I think you need to retake Constitution 101. Parliament is sovereign, but I don't recognise your characterisation of UK governance at all. Ask Eric Ilsley whether he's subject to the courts or not.
As nearly as anyone can judge, given that we have no written constitution, the Queen in Council is Sovereign, that counsel is provided by Parliament (both houses) and the Privy Council. In theory, Her Maj can dissolve Parliament tomorrow. She won't, though.
Legal correct Google
Totally correct move by Google. In fact if the police/cps use picture in court and Google didn't stick to law then the photo will not be submittable in court. Also if thats only edvance they have who did it, it rather weak case anyway. I do not see him doing anything but :-
1) park car on there drive way
2) then walking about the car
It as such is no smoking gun edvance anyway.
In fact there good chance he knows about this because police going to media and if has brain got rid of everything.
can't this automagically just be re and then the comment title I've hit reply to? Please?
You missed the open rear left door and boot, which does look a little odd. Note odd <> suspicious though.
Another Slippery slope.
Plod's bill for grease must be astronomical.
^ <-- Dibble slips the lard wrapper into someone else's pocket...
MPs will do anything...
...for a chance at some good press and potential votes. So she stands up against the huge corporate beast that is Google, fighting for the rights of the individual and championing the struggle against crime. She gets some good press with locals too stupid to realise that if Google acquiesced to this one request it would set a precedent for the whole of policing to follow. She gets good press with the Police as she's basically bashing someone else and not them.
Meanwhile, Google is quietly lobbying her big boss into handing over the NHS data into Google Health...go Google I say!!
Publicising the case
Meanwhile, the "perp" on the drive has plenty of time to get rid of the vehicle and take steps to avoid being caught.
Either the car is stolen or the plate are fake, in which case the perp already get rid of the car or the plates, or it's his own car with his registered plates, and getting rid of it now won't help a single bit...
Really? Really Really?
"The Perp" is either the registered keeper of the vehicle or isn't. If he is then he was still the bleeding registered keeper when the photo was taken whether he's sold it or not. If he isn't the registered keeper and the car was stolen, then it makes no bleedin difference!
Less American TV, more Open Uni.
Yes, I went there.
I suppose if Sergei or Brin "fall down some stairs" in the local station in the next few days it will be completely coincidental.
What can I say?
The police don't want to follow established procedure. No surprise there then.
They (the police force) complain to the media about the 'obstructive' (my word) Google, rather than take them to court for obstructing an officer in the course of his duties. Oh...Google aren't. _THEY_ are obeying the law.
Wasting time during an investigation. Time which could lead to the crime 'timing out'.
How is it that I'm no longer surprised that 'our <sarcasm>wonderful</sarcasm>' police force no longer believe that the law covers them too.
Who ever is responsible for this, and his / her supervisor and station inspector should be reduced to beat coppers. Only we don't have them any more do we? Well we need to make some cuts for the coming years budget, so there are a few shining examples of where the axe should fall.
I would've been a lot more worried if the data had been handed over. Yeah, in this case it seems harmless, but if the case went to court, the defence solicitor would probably be able to get the evidence dismissed as it wasn't obtained correctly.
Oh, and @ ge : feds? this is derbyshire - you know, in the UK. In case you're wondering where that is, its a small state in the country of London.
what country do *you* live in ....
"...the defence solicitor would probably be able to get the evidence dismissed as it wasn't obtained correctly"
very very rare for a UK court to discount illegally or improperly obtained evidence. No fruit of the poison tree here.
To be contrary, I think Google is being deliberately and unnecessarily obstructive here. There is an exemption under section 29 (3) of the Data Protection Act that would allow them to share this information lawfully with the police if it is necessary for the prevention and detection of crime. The police cannot obtain this image from anywhere else, and have clearly explained the crime under investigation in this case and how this could be relevant.
It's an unnecessary delay, a waste of police time and court time and a waste of taxpayers money to require them to obtain a court order for something that they do have the discretion to do lawfully.
It's worth remembering that this could just as easily exonerate the vehicle's registered keeper as a suspect as lead to an arrest.
I agree that this smacks of Google respecting privacy only when it suits them.
The police could just get the court order and get on with it.
Are you saying they should have gone to the media and publicised this image? Is that the correct course of action?
Perhaps they could get the court order and also ask for clarification of the law for any future requests.
I respect your opinion but..
No, the law is perfectly clear. It's just that the provision of data under section 29 (3) of the DPA is discretionary and Google is using its discretion to be obstructive.
Given the cuts that are being imposed on overstretched police and court services, you would rather see public time and money wasted on unnecessary court proceedings when Google could simply provide this in a wholly lawful manner ?
However, agreed, going to the media is a fail all round. Google get to look like they're not a bunch of data slurping info whores but the plucky guardians of privacy standing up to faceless bureaucracy, the driver of the "suspect" vehicle gets to cook up an alibi (if necessary), the family gets shoved into the spotlight whether they like it or not and the public gets to pay for a pointless pissing contest that could have been avoided if Google had the slightest interest in the crime being investigated appropriately.
This isn't America
In the US pretty much anything requires court orders and they are handed out by the courts like confetti. In the UK we practice something called consensus policing, and court orders are normally required for very serious things - they aren't handed out like confetti and require a lot of effort and court time to get. The Police are supposed to cooperate with local people and businesses to gather evidence. There are clear exemptions in Data Protection law that allow people to cooperate with the police without breaking the law.
The key thing to remember here is that this isn't a fishing expedition. They haven't gone to Google and said, "Give us all your unblurred StreetView data so we can do a broad trawl through it to see if a crime has been committed somewhere." If they had, I would wholeheartedly support Google telling them to f-off and them waiting for a court order. In this case though they have a pretty obvious suspect who they can trivially trace if Google help them out a little. If the Police had to get a court order for every piece of evidence of this type that they collect then the courts would be jammed with those requests. Just think if the Police had to get a court order to access data from every private CCTV camera in a pub, club or restaurant when a crime has been committed.
In this case, the only person who could reasonably give permission for Google to hand over the data is the person whose property is pictured. The person in the vehicle is on that property, so if anything Google should have asked for the permission of the home owner. Instead they are being pointlessly obstructive and wasting everyone's time.
The Police can certainly get a court order if they wish, but I would hate to set a precedent of that sort.
not completely correct.
The public listing of google inc for cartography with the ICO lists that they collect images of people in public places and that the exemption for law enforcement is included so if plod wanted a picture of the person they can have it on request.
A car is not a person and the registration is personally identifiable information so the exemption in terms of the ICO registration doesnt apply to the picture of the vehicle registration. Hence the need for the court order.
You also have to consider that this is what a defence lawyer would call a fishing expedition, there is no evidence of any illegal activity in the image.
And yet, Qtoktok....
If I were Google, I would obstruct to this too. Not because I wanted to show the world what a good corporate citizen I am, but simply because I promised to delete that unblurred image after 12 months.
In other words: If google were to come up with that image, unblurred an'all, everybody would be able to *see* that google does not uphold law, privacy nor its own promises.
The first posters saying "good for google" have had their hats skewed for even thinking google was defending the public. google is and always will be defending only themselves.
FAIL because, Qtoktok, looking at http://mashable.com/2010/02/26/eu-google-street-view-order/ will tell you what the case really is about...
More than likely the caravan taker used false plates on his vehicle so the whole process would be a complete waste of time.
You think police shouldn't investigate leads if they have a slight inkling that it might not lead anywhere?
Leads lead to other leads you know.
Can someone explain...?
I really, really don't get this.
The family discovers that Google has a photo of the guy stealing their van. Google has an unblurred photo which'll give you the guy's registration number, and that'll almost certainly give you his name and address. Or if not his name and address, at least they can tie up the theft of the van with the theft of the car - and who knows, perhaps he's already been nicked for nicking the car. All the cops need to do is put in a couple of days work to get a court order, and it's all tied up.
Oh no. First off, let's issue a press report asking if anyone knows this guy. It's newsworthy so it gets in the papers, so he knows damn well they're looking for him. If he's any kind of career criminal (which seems likely if he's stealing caravans to order), this will probably result in him legging it somewhere where it'll be hard to get him back. Then let's wait around for months until he's well gone. And then let's put out another press statement saying "we can't be arsed to follow the law" and rope in an MP to spout some fatuous bullshit - oh, and warn the bloke again in the national press that they're looking for him.
Jesus wept. Who have they got doing this investigation, the spotty fucking YTS kid on his Saturday job? If this is the standard that Derbyshire police think is acceptable for running an investigation, the whole bloody lot of them need a major kick up their fat glued-to-the-chair arses. Perhaps then they'd go and do their bloody jobs, instead of pissing and moaning about how it's so unfair that their requests for Google employees to break the Data Protection Act (criminal record, fine of up to half a million quid and possible prison sentence) are turned down, and it's *so* unfair that they might actually have to do what the law tells them to do.
Defectives in the police farce...
"the spotty YTS kid on his Saturday job"
The 1980's called, they want their Scheme back ;)
I think YTS would be a welcome return.
However this is all a PR stunt.
The cops will get their picture (with a little delay).
Google get some cred back from a gullible public.
In the meantime the 3 letter agencies continue to get their feed without any public dog and pony show.
Only the photo does NOT show anyone stealing a caravan.
The photo shows a man and it shows a car. It does not even show a man in a car. Unless they caught the guy with the caravan or recovered the caravan with evidence of the guy's contact with it then the photo is useless. Totally useless. And at a guess the police know this but are getting hassled about their failure to act (which they should have done when the photo came to light if they were going to act anyway.) If they did get the man then even any crap barrister would destroy the photo evidence, as there is no association with the car (if it is stolen,) or the caravan which may or may not have been in the process of being stolen when the photo was taken.
So what do the police do to justify their own failure? They do as everyone else seems to do in this country now. They blame someone else, in this case Google.
"The 1980's called"
"The 1980's called, they want their Scheme back " LOL
That's funny, funnier than it should be, but it is!
1. It could have been done without breaching the DPA by anyone who actually understands the law in question.
2. Fines are only issued for serious breaches, generally involving the loss or deliberate theft/sale of personal data
3. There are no custodial sentences for any offences under the DPA (yet), so no-one would be going to prison. The ICO would like to see sentences introduced for offences under s55 of the DPA (unlawfully obtaining personal data) but the Government has said no. Too worried about what would happen to them, probably
- Xmas Round-up Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ten tech treats from yesteryear
- Special Report How Britain could have invented the iPhone: And how the Quangocracy cocked it up
- Analysis Microsoft's licence riddles give Linux and pals a free ride to virtual domination
- Massive! Yahoo! Mail! outage! going! on! FOURTH! straight! day!
- Bring it on, stream biz Aereo tells TV barons – see you in Supreme Court