Google's spycar revs up UK privacy fears
Privacy campaigners launch Street View ambush
Google's Street View cars, which grab real photographs of streets and the people in them for the search giant's Maps service, have come under fire from privacy campaigners.
The spycar has been spotted in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff. A Reg reader was kind enough to send us a snap of the snapper-car in London. The pictures the car takes subsequently get loaded into Google Maps.
Privacy International has complained to the Information Commissioner's Office.
A spokeswoman for the ICO told the Reg: "Yes, we have received a complaint about this and we are looking into it. We are contacting Google to get more details of the scheme."
Google has said it would be blurring Europeans' faces in Street View, which it is doing retroactively in the US too, in order to respect privacy. The service has had a tough time in the US - and was criticised for pictures of a woman's thong and a piddling builder. It is being sued by one couple who claim they were photographed in their swimming pool.
The search giant will remove pictures on request in the US, and is also blurring vehicle number plates.
Google's invasion of Europe's streets comes as the ICO calls for changes to European data protection laws which it says are failing to keep up with changing technology. The ICO has hired RAND Corporation to review European data protection laws to find possible areas of reform.
Richard Thomas, UK ICO, said: "European data protection law is increasingly seen as out of date, bureaucratic and excessively prescriptive. It is showing its age and is failing to meet new challenges to privacy, such as the transfer of personal details across international borders and the huge growth in personal information online.
"It is high time the law is reviewed and updated for the modern world." ®
@AC (Emerson you answered ...)
I can actually understand blurring out number plates, they do that with "reality" TV shows using dash-cams and the like. Those are "more" identifiable, I think, and deserve some privacy.
I'm not sure where you get being "able to take advantage of the situation" of you going out though (serious question).
I mean, if you go out, hordes of people can see you. What makes being seen in a picture on the 'net that millions of people "could" see any different than walking down the road where everyone can see you "real time"?
I'll believe they'll stop abuse of CCTV by "authorities" when I see it (no pun intended). It just means those "authorities" will need to get more creative with their justifications - especially if the DPA makes it near-impossible for people to know they were even monitored to begin with.
The downside to a totalitarian democracy is it's all too easy to say surveillance is for the ethereal "public good".
It really is hard for me to reconcile the arguments against Google Street View with the support (or at least acceptance) of governmental monitoring. One is more about the places, the other is absolutely about the people.
Emerson you answered your own question.
" If you want privacy, why don't you just stay indoors 24/7? "
" If you are out in public, there is every chance you could end up in a photo, and nothing you can do about it. "
That is why the law needs to be changed.
The laws on taking photos in public were made in a time where few people owned a camera. (or everyone had one, but few used it unless it was a special occasion) I remember going on Holidays, spending £20 on film for the camera.
I remember going places and not taking a camera at all because I would need to take a big chunky camera, it would cost me £5 for film for the camera, £5 and 1 week to get it developed. The pictures would probably not turn out and if I wanted different sizes I would need to keep the negatives, take them back to the shop and pay to get them printed again.
Now everyone has a camera and everything is getting posted everywhere. There are practically live streams from people's mobile phones. Okay not quite..but I would not be surprised if that is what happens next.
I don't see why, because I HAVE to go out, am FORCED to go out, that someone should be able to take advantage of the situation and there's nothing I can do about it.
I don't go out when I am okay with the idea of getting my picture taken. I go out when I need to go out. I have been outside crying my eyes out, bleeding, in ridiculous clothing, in ripped clothing, lying about where I was (for whatever reason), with a botched hair job, extremely tired, very ill.. (not all at the same time, haha) etc.
I would not want my picture taken in these situations, and almost all of them were necessary and not my fault, as I was already outside somewhere and simply trying to make my way back to the safety and 'privacy' of my home, hoping that no-one saw me.
What's so freaking hard about them blurring faces,windows&numberplates?
Can someone please explain the benefit that NOT blurring them serves? Surely even if we look at it on a scale. Problems vs Benefits.. erring on the side of caution by blurring stuff makes the most sense? Why are you so unbelievably in favor of a company going around taking pictures of people without their permission and posting it to an audience of millions. Please ?
Moonwalk - They are actually putting a stop to that, under yes, privacy concerns and abuse of the technology..
But, AC, don't you see? Boss may have taken leave and gone to the match himself; in which case he'd STILL see "Man". That particular example is nothing to do with "Electronic Privacy", it's about "Man" being an idiot and using sickness as an excuse.
"Sensitive Data" is only sensitive when the content is sensitive - like for instance a picture of a person coming out of a clap clinic. Yes, by all means, let's get those edited to protect the poor chap who went into the clap clinic to fix the receptionist's PC/meet a friend/whatever. But general images of people walking down the street?! They're meaningless! So I'm all for sensitive locations getting the edit treatment; but not blanket blurring of people's faces/registration numbers for no good reason.