back to article Street View spycar prowls Inverness

Hot on the heels of reader Ziad al-Hasso's clocking of Google's Street View spycar in London, Scott MacLeod brings us chilling evidence of the search monolith's ambitions to expose the entire UK to international scrutiny: The Street View spycar spied in Inverness The vehicle in question was snapped around two weeks ago in …

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  1. Stuart Barnett
    Coat

    Nessie hunting

    That's not Google maps, they're Nessie hunting.

    I for one one bow down to our new Google overlords and and their Orwellian snooping.

    Mine's the one with the fish in the pocket!

  2. tnetech
    IT Angle

    Google?? You're kidding

    Here in Australia, where I live anyway you can't just go around taking photo's and video and posting on the net. In fact, the town I live in you need to get a licence to take pictures in certain parks, for example for a wedding!

    I find it so hard to believe that you can have one of these 'beauties' roll down your street and snap you in your front yard or your car in your driveway or whatever and because it's Google its OK.

    Although I am usually a Microsoft basher imagine the outcry if this was Redmond doing this.

    It's bad enough that Google keep all our search records, and check a record of every clip you have ever watched on Youtube but now they are taking pictures of our front yards and posting on the net.

    News & Views, Installation Guides and How To's

    http://tnetech.net

  3. stu
    Stop

    Privacy

    What am I missing here... a bloke with an SLR taking pictures of buildings or the odd person in a town gets linched by the coppers for being a terrorist, but it is apparently ok to go around taking high resolution shots of every ruddy street in Britain.

    Oh, I am sure the non-obscured pictures with people, vehicle number plates, etc, etc will all be immediately deleted by Google and not provided to the government if they ask nicely so I have nothing to worry about.

  4. lansalot
    Joke

    and anyway...

    what privacy concerns ? I'd love my nekkid sunbathing bits to be immortalized in streetmap-glory for eternity (or until next scan). Bring them on, say I !!

    In fact, in that street, there's a rather lovely lady whose address I could give out, if they could just loiter round hers for a bit. Cheers !

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    I totally agree

    Having someone drive down your street being able to see your house is a terrible invasion of privacy, completley removed from the current situation of .. errr ... someone driving down your street and being able to see your house.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Car reg. numbers

    Google claim that they will disguise car registration numbers. Why has El Reg not behaved responsibly and done that to those cars in the background?

  7. Nick Askew

    Not sure what to think?

    Seems to me that the Reg is suffering from indecision here. Not so long ago you were running stories informing photographers of their rights to shoot when, where, and what they please and now two stories in two days getting your knickers in a twist about Google doing exactly that even when they have promissed to blur faces.

  8. Hans

    Invasion of The Snoopmobiles

    Looks like the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster.

    What we need is a heroic saviour, hmmm, let's say Bruce Willis or, even better, Will Smith before they take over the entire planet.

    Do you think flushing them with seawater would kill 'em off?

    Well, it worked for them damn Triffids.

  9. Russ Tarbox

    The Domesday system...

    Had an interactive part where you could wander around a city's streets. The 80s captured right there forever.

    http://www.domesday1986.com/

    What's the big deal?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    O look

    I wonder if the reg asked those drivers in those other cars for their permission before invading their privacy by posting their license plate numbers on the reg and locations (what if one was having an affair and his wife reads the reg, now the wife is boiling his bunnies and it's all your fault) tshhh.

  11. KenBW2
    Go

    Why has everyone got a problem with this?

    What do I care if I get snapped walking down the street? You're all paranoid.

    I hope they come to my town (Preston). Yes, Google - that was a hint...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Genius

    Now we all know what they look like. (The cars). So, every time someone sees one pass, give it the bird, or moon it, or relieve yourself in front of it (Google-whacking (TM))???

    That'll give their face recognition technology something to work with. Imagine the kudos for getting the old boy on google maps.

  13. Rabbi
    Stop

    You are in breach of . . .

    . . . something, certainly. You are showing the Google-car's number-plate! Not only that, you show the number plates of the other cars around it! Suppose one of those people was actually supposed to be somewhere else at the time - they're exposed now.

    If Google say they're going to blur the number plates (and faces), shouldn't El Reg?

  14. mike
    Black Helicopters

    whats the problem

    I really cant see what the problem is with this. if someone is on the street they are in public therefore they cannot complain if some one takes there picture.perhaps better to complain on the number of CCTV spycams on our streets. The privacy people would do better complaining about Google / You Tube being forced to hand UK user details to a USA company (viacom) which is against the UKs Data protection act.

  15. tony72
    Flame

    Useful

    The privacy whiners have plenty to harp on about, some of it even justified, but they can keep their hands off this one. Considering there are bloody cameras everywhere, mostly serving little real purpose, it's about time someone applied pervasive snooping to an application that's actually of some use. When navigating a trip to an unfamiliar place using satnav, those last few meters after "You have reached your destination" are sometimes surprisingly tough. Street View could be a big help to identify the exact building you're going to, where you might be able to park nearby etc, etc.

  16. TeeCee Gold badge
    Paris Hilton

    Er, Google?

    Do no evil?

    I'd have thought, what with the carbon-cultists dictating what's good and what's bad these days, that running a huge fleet of cars around all over the world for no good reason other than to put better piccies on your website would rank fairly highly in the "evil things done by big companies" table.

    So, either you're shameless planet killers or you're carbon-cult deniers. Which is it?

    Paris, for the obvious "been everywhere and there are pictures on the web to prove it" connection.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Don't get caught on Google

    It would seem to me that the best way to protect your privacy from the Google spycars would be to moon them. I call on all Britons to have their belts loosened in readiness and drop to the occasion if and when it arises. The operators will be forced to blur out the offending images thus erasing all trace of the bum owners identity. You may get slightly arrested or appear on an underground porn site but otherwise the idea is sound.

  18. Jake Fraser

    And London too

    Sighted on a road in south east London this morning on my way to work - one assumes there is a fleet?

  19. Haviland

    Edinburgh

    I've seen the car by my house, at work whilst exiled for a ciggie and this morning after dropping off the kids.

    I wonder if I'll be in all three scenes?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I really really really don't see the problem

    Why are people getting upset about the whole street view thing? Apart from a few people with something to hide (Crims, benefit cheats, MP's maybe) how is this hurting anyone?

    And if it's ok in the States (where they have less CCTV etc than we do), why are Joe Public complaining about something they might actually be able to use and is, after all, fun?

  21. Frazer Mountford
    Coat

    Streetcar Mashup

    Someone ought to write a Google Maps Mashup to track the Street View spycar and take photos of it

  22. Mark
    Thumb Down

    leave us alone

    Why don't Google just f*** off.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Appalled of Wherevershire

    I'm APPAULLED that The Register have ILLEGALLY published this photograph for COMMERIAL GAIN. I can just about see through the widow on the left hand side of the picture which invades that householder's privacy.

    Have you NO MORALS? What is this, if not a stripped down version of StreetView?

  24. tnetech

    Google?? It's hard to believe

    My view is that Google street View should be illegal. Why? Invasion of privacy.

    Here in Australia, where I live anyway you can't just go around taking photo's and video and posting on the net. In fact, the town I live in you need to get a licence to take pictures in certain parks, for example for a wedding!

    I find it so hard to believe that you can have one of these 'beauties' roll down your street and snap you in your front yard or your car in your driveway or whatever and because it's Google its OK.

    Although I am usually a Microsoft basher imagine the outcry if this was Redmond doing this.

    It's bad enough that Google keep all our search records, and check a record of every clip you have ever watched on Youtube but now they are taking pictures of our front yards and posting on the net.

  25. Paul Talbot

    Why?

    I still don't get how this is a privacy issue. Anything visible on the photos will also be visible to every other person on the road or pavement. Why are people expecting privacy on a public road?

  26. dalzinho

    Ooh, me too

    I saw this car too, in Barmulloch in Glasgow. I would have snapped it had I not been on the bus at the time.

  27. andy gibson
    Unhappy

    complaining for the sake of it

    You get a live outside broadcast and the TV crews can't keep the kids and adults standing behind the reporter waving, screaming and shouting "hello mum".

    Yet a similar project and there's an outcry of "privacy".

  28. Matt
    Stop

    Imformation Commissioner

    interesting that they have done bugger all about the complaints about phorm, but they'll quite happily investigate google for doing nothing wrong.

  29. Reptar
    Thumb Up

    The french have had this for ages...

    See http://www.pagesjaunes.fr/villeendirect/

    You can actually zoom into peoples homes and watch them undress. And read their credit card details. And watch them make home made explosives. And watch them undress some more.

  30. Louis Cowan
    Thumb Up

    TeeCee

    TeeCee, there was some Scandanavian guy who recently send a GPS device on a massive journey through DHL, simply to draw a picture with the returned co-ordinates. Many people thought this was brilliant, personally I thought it was a massive waste of resources. Much like Formula 1 racing, actually. This streetview stuff which Google is doing might actually have a few benefits, as well as being quite interesting. Paul Talbot above manages to say what I was trying to say earlier, but much more succinctly

  31. Paul

    There is actualy...

    As I said befor, an "expectation of privacy" on British streets. Google are braking this. El Reg are clearly publising baised on the "public interest" laws.

  32. Mark Serlin
    Boffin

    You're all mad

    Google own your ass. Along with Tesco and Ikea.

    I saw this car thing on the streets of Haringey 3 weeks before Google said they "may be" using it in London. There'll I'll be, pedalling to work for all to see. At least it didn't knock me off and say "sorry I didn't see you".

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This doesn't need a title!

    @Paul Talbot: Precisely, the law even defines where one can expect a reasonable amount of privacy... and a public place is absolutely not one. Granted if the Google-snappers rolled down a terraced street and inadvertently captured someone sitting on their sofa I would have to agree that faces (or anything else they may be exposing!) should be blurred. Last time I checked it isn't illegal (yet!) to take photo's of absolutely anything or anyone in a public place (given the odd few, well documented, exceptions covered by law).

    I suspect some people, in some specific areas of the UK, won't have to worry about this anyway lest Google fancy having their (no doubt) expensive equipment used as target practice by locals yoofs hurling bricks and eggs at it.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    And another

    Saw one today in Milton Keynes

  35. shay mclachlan

    so........

    So if I'm a fiendish international paedo terrorist, all I need to do is strap a huge pile of junk with a videocam in it on top of a cheap hatchback and everyone will think its a Google Streetcar. Beats stumbling along the pavement with my Nikon & getting pestered by PCSO's anyday.

  36. Roger Paul

    No ta...

    I don't want Google taking pictures of me or my property. My reasons are my own.

    You can question all you like, but that's all you're getting. The reason being that it's my right to keep it to myself. I publish my name above by choice, and there's the crux of it. I show what I want to, I hide what I want to. Choice.

  37. Stephen

    screw google

    Some people are saying you can just ask for the picture to be removed so whats the issue? What if someone else sees the image of me before I do. I shouldn't HAVE to scan through Google stree view every day to check if they have been taking pictures of me.

    The cars AREN'T restricted to public places only, the cameras are capable (and do) of taking pictures through your home windows, garden etc all private property.

    As for those who say Google aren't making money from this. Uh sorry? Subdomains and internal pages of google.com, promoting their site as a whole.

  38. Bryn Evans
    Pirate

    All Rubbish !

    This is not a Googol Car !

    It is a sneaky test run of a "Pay to Throw" dustbin inspection !

    Mines the one with the tin foil wrapper..

  39. Stu Pid
    Black Helicopters

    @Mike: What's the problem?

    The privacy people would do better complaining about Google / You Tube being forced to hand UK user details to a USA company (viacom) which is against the UKs Data protection act.

    Erm, pretty sure there's a thing called safe harbour (yes with a U!) in the DPA which allows data to be passed to foreign countries that we have agreements with, and the US is just one such country, as is India hence all the call centres being able to access our bank details.

    What we should be more concerned about is their slow updating, Manchester wasn't updated for years, the Urbis and the city of Manchester stadium were still building sites on the net whilst I drove passed them everyday!

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least...

    the bus spotters can work from home now.

  41. Stephen

    Dangerous car

    My friend has much much smaller mods on his car and has been pulled by the traffic cops so many times its untrue. That equipment looks pretty dangerous... if the car hits a kid then I'm pretty sure that stuff on top isn't factory standard and passed safety requirements...

  42. Thomas

    So...

    You're all worried about a picture that will probably show up on the net 6 months from now?

  43. BeachBoy

    The problem is?

    Frankly unless it happens to catch me banging the neighbours cat I don't see what problem is (People will give good money for those pictures!)

    If I commute into central london everyday for work, my not so pretty face is captured in public on approx. 250 different camera's and saved for posterity. Some of these camera's are open for public access on the internet (Street/traffic cams) with no-pixel blurring of faces etc.

    People get a life, or move to somewhere with no technology, it a peice of harmless fun. We've exhausted the black helicopters, now its time for thong watch.....

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: something to hide idiots

    " Having someone drive down your street being able to see your house is a terrible invasion of privacy, completley removed from the current situation of .. errr ... someone driving down your street and being able to see your house. "

    I think if there was a steady stream of millions of people per day going past your house with a camera you'd probably put up a 6 ft fence around your entire premises.

    There is a difference between a random person walking by your house, or someone taking a picture that will be viewed by their teacher for a school project, or for their own personal collection at home, it is an entirely different thing when someone takes that photo and immortalizes it on the internet where anyone and everyone is free to view it and copy it and exploit it and what not.

    You need to think for a minute before you speak. You people are obviously of the opinion that if it doesn't effect you it isn't a big deal. Therefore I suggest you butt out since it's too hard for you to actually consider if it was you who was snapped. Or you on a day when you looked less than your perfect, perfect, happy to pose for photos for google and potentially achieve worldwide fame self.

    Why anyone would be against privacy concerns being listened to by the authorities or being against privacy laws in general (one of the good things about living in the UK) is beyond me....

    God forbid you don't get that photo of a person minding their own business on the street, who just happened to NEED to go outside, for your own selfish or voyeuristic reasons.

  45. Big Pete
    Thumb Down

    @tnetech

    "Here in Australia, where I live anyway you can't just go around taking photo's and video and posting on the net. In fact, the town I live in you need to get a licence to take pictures in certain parks, for example for a wedding!"

    Fuck me, Where the hell do you live?, Long Bay?

  46. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    privacy concerns

    There's a fairly simple solution to this but i doubt Google will undertake it because it will cost some money.

    Its a simple 3 step solution.

    a) obscue all people's faces (and any other identifying features)

    b) obscure all licence plates details

    c) black in windows if required so that people cant peer inside houses

    Do that, and the privacy concerns of your average person are taken care of and Google remove the risk of litigation because someone was caught having an affair or skipping work due to a street view pic. Problem solved.

  47. Roger Heathcote

    @Roger Paul

    Hey Roger...

    "You can question all you like, but that's all you're getting."

    No I really don't want to know thanks! ;-)

    "I show what I want to, I hide what I want to. Choice."

    You can't choose not to show anyone your house though can you? It outside, in public.

    If you don't want your house photographed the best you can hope for is that you live at the end of a long private road. And even that is no guarantee... http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/05/google_street_view_suit/

    Roger Heathcote

  48. Pete
    Paris Hilton

    what goes around

    Hehehe, funny really how Reg reports the sightings then readers turn on Reg to blur it's images, next we'll have someone suggesting that missives sent to Reg should be blurred or encrypted to disguise out any kind of human factor. What seems to be missed out here is how security, privacy invasion and like constructs are affecting us since our revered bunch of controllers took office. A deeply unhealthy obsessive and dark country we have when it comes to people control.

    Paris because she knows a lot about control.

  49. Nick Pettefar

    @Louis Cowan

    "... there was some Scandanavian guy who recently send a GPS device on a massive journey through DHL ... "

    Umm, how are the radio waves going to get inside a DHL lorry or aeroplane? How large were the batteries? Sounds a bit fishy to me.

    WRT this whole Google photography business, a) it's legal to take photographs outside and b) if you have something to hide then don't do it outside!

  50. Andraž Levstik

    @Haviland

    So now they know a) where you work b) where you live c) where your kids go to school/whatever

    And then people wonder what is wrong with this...

    I don't want the whole world knowing where I live, work etc...

  51. Gordon

    This is getting silly...

    Exactly HOW is it an invasion of privacy to take photos of a street?? I just don't get it. If there is something you don't want people to see, i'd suggest you refrain from doing it in the street, especially in front of cars with bloody great cameras on 6' tripods on the roof!

    I mean ANYONE could walk down the street for ANY purpose!!!!

  52. Jas
    Go

    One more

    My dad had one go past his house a couple of times yesterday in Milton Keynes.

    Anyone know when these will be online?

  53. David McQuillan

    Surely they can hide people?

    I know they are talking about recognising and smudging peoples faces, but surely with modern hardware one cold fairly easily compare multiple photos while driving along and remove everything that moves? It could build 3D models as well as it goes along too. It wouldn't do anything about the M25 in rush hour but at least it would leave the faces on statues.

  54. Wayland Sothcott Bronze badge

    Horns of a dilemma

    The difference between Street View and Closed Circuit TV is that anyone can see the photos google take of a public place but in CCTV only the owners of the CCTV get to see.

    It is a public place so what you can see is what you can photograph.

    When in public we do what is acceptable in public so there should be no problem with a photograph of it.

    However a photograph has a power beyond that of what one person can see. A photograph or video is a record which can be viewed by millions of people who weren't on the street at the time. It can also be looked at live or historically by machine and in ways not yet invented.

    Simple phototography and TV has radically changed in a way which changes our lives. A camera is now a far more powerful tool than ever before. Googles street photography will be a powerful tool that will be used for good and evil just as google maps and google earth are.

    Just be glad of the techology in your own hands.

  55. Chris Hamilton
    Thumb Up

    How many places can I be in at the same time???

    It will be like the fun I am having at the moment with Google Earth, which not only shows me sitting in the garden outside my house in Bristol but also my car parked outside my office, as well as outside my mums house in Lanarkshire, Scotland at the same time, all seen from the aerial photography.

    But according to the satellite images, I am also capable of time travel, and have retrieved my 1995 Rover 100 (in a distinctive purple colour) from the scrapyard I parked it in 4 years ago and have dumped it outside my ex-missus's house in East Kilbride.

    So with StreetView lets see how many places I can be in at the same time again!

    Plus.... why did Google buy a fleet of RHD Opels??? Vauxhalls not good enough for them?

  56. Stephen
    Paris Hilton

    @Gordon

    You're obviously a bit of a prat who hasn't bothered to read all the comments. The pictures are high quality and not restricted or filtered purely to public property.

    Paris because she's got the same smarts as Gordon.

  57. lansalot
    Stop

    hey !

    I mentioned they were in Inverness last week - what gives ? :P

    That aside - my mate snapped one of these devices on a few lamposts in his street that turned up the same day the Google-mobile was about.

    http://c.imagehost.org/view/0124/thing.jpg

    A quick call to the Highland Council street lighting department confirmed they knew nothing about it, and that it should definitely not have been put there without their permission.

    So, over to you, readers. What the hell is it ???

  58. Adam Foxton

    In Aberdeen too

    Saw it driving down Union Street yesterday at about 9am. Wonder if It'll go down my street... *sticks "HELLO GOOGLE MAPS" poster on outisde of house*

  59. Adam Foxton

    @lansalot

    Have you got any closer up photos of the label on that device? Or information on branding etc? Or some way of prying it off the light and mailing it to me? :D

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