Has Google gone too far with its Street View photos?

Columns & Opinion, Internet

will.jpgWill Head writes…

Earlier in the week, Google added the new Street View feature to its Maps site, allowing people to see photos of selected areas in certain cities. The pictures were taken using from a van driving along the street and captured not only the surrounding areas, but also the people that happened to be walking past at the time too.

Since release, users have been avidly scanning the images trying to make people out and see what they’re up to. One woman spotted a picture of her cat through the window of her house. Wired is asking readers to submit the best images they can find while Mashable is running a top 15 best street sightings.

Has Google gone too far by releasing these pictures or is it within its rights to use the images?

The fact that it’s Google and not another company plays a huge factor here. Because Google has so many users, then when it implements a feature like this there are going to be a lot more people to scrutinise the images and try and see if they can make out someone they know in one.

When Amazon added Block View to its A9 Maps a couple of years ago, no one seemed that bothered about the privacy implications. In fact, it looks like the people were so unimpressed with the service as a whole that Amazon has since discontinued it.

While it may look like some of the people are just coming out of strip clubs or adult shops, they may have just been innocently passing by when the Google van rolled up. Now they’re being accused of frequenting dodgy establishments by people they’ve never met from all over the world.

Google does provide the facility to remove images if you think they infringe your privacy, but surely it would be better for the service as a whole and for the people involved if it could come up with a way of obscuring people’s identity before it put the pictures out there in the first place.

Will Head
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