Feeds

Google trials Street View face-blurring tech

International anonymity for New Yorkers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Google has begun to roll out Street View images with the faces of innocent bystanders to its drive-by captures suitably blurred - a response to increasing privacy concerns over the service's indiscriminate broadcasting of the unwashed masses.

A post on the Google Earth and Maps blog earlier this week explained the search monolith was testing its "new face-blurring technology on the busy streets of Manhattan", as seen here:

Street View image of Manhattan with blurred faces

The post adds: "This effort has been a year in the making - working at Street View-scale is a tough challenge that required us to advance state-of-the-art automatic face detection, and we continue working hard to improve it as we roll it out for our existing and future imagery."

This timely move comes as the Street View camera vehicle is reported to be prowling the streets of several European cities. The EU has "stricter privacy safeguards" than the US, and Google has "already admitted that it will have to change the way Street View operates in order to comply".

Google global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer said in April: "We've always said Street View will respect local laws wherever it is available and we recognise that other countries strike a different balance between the concept of 'public spaces' and individuals' right to privacy in those public spaces.

"There's an important public policy debate in every country around what privacy means in public spaces. That balance will vary from country to country, and Street View will respect it."

Despite the US's relatively relaxed attitude to privacy, Google has fallen foul of a couple of indignant local property owners: Mr and Mrs Boring of Pittsburgh who accused the company of "photographing their swimming pool and posting it to the web"; and, rather more seriously, the Pentagon which was a little hacked off over revealing snaps of Fort Sam Houston.

In the latter case, Google responded by removing the offending pics from Street View. Its policy on individuals caught on camera has, since last August, involved a similar "delete-on-request" service. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'
Admits to 'a metric ****load' of mistakes during work with Linux collaborators
Ploppr: The #VultureTRENDING App of the Now
This organic crowd sourced viro- social fertiliser just got REAL
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.