Feeds

UK data watchdog gives Google spycar fleet the greenlight

Privacy campaigners mown down by Street View juggernaut

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Following a quiet word down at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Google has been given regulatory approval to publish photographs taken by the fleet of camera-carrying black Opels currently surveying Britain.

The ICO says it was persuaded by Google's assurances that it will blur the faces of people captured by one of the Opels. Likewise the firm has satisfied data watchdogs that number plates will be scrambled, and that anyone who complains about a Street View image can have it binned.

The ICO released this statement today:

We are satisfied that Google is putting in place adequate safeguards to avoid any risk to the privacy or safety of individuals, including the blurring of vehicle registration marks and the faces of anyone included in Streetview images.

Although it is possible that in certain limited circumstances an image may allow the identification of an individual, it is clear that Google are keen to capture images of streets and not individuals. Further there is an easy mechanism by which individuals can report an image that causes them concern to Google and request that it is removed.
Images are not 'real time' and there is a delay between taking an image and its publication so that it could not be used to make decisions about an individual's current whereabouts.

The ICO's statement makes no mention of what Google itself might do with the reams of data it is collecting.

Not everyone's concerned by Street View has had the pleasure of Google's soothing words. Privacy International, the London-based privacy pressure group was among the first to raise public concerns about the image mapping project hitting the UK, and wrote to Google with a series of questions. It has been ignored by the firm.

Privacy International spokesman Simon Davies said Street View's lack of transparency is its fundamental problem. "We've asked for details of the [blurring] technology and Google will not yield it... Google is claiming commercial secrecy, but they won't even show us how effective it is," he said. "The ICO is of course entitled to form its opinion but we'll continue to press Google."

Privacy International also asked the firm to explain if and how it consulted with the UK public on its plans, but has again been stonewalled. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
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.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.