Privacy watchdog hoists Google by its own petard
Spews Street View pics of Larry Page Lexus
In an effort to prove that Google is a serious threat to the personal privacy of people everywhere, the National Legal and Policy Center has exposed countless Google Street View pics that detail what are likely the home, cars, and daily commute of top Google executive Larry Page.
Responding to Google's addled defense of Street View in an ongoing Pennsylvania court case, the privacy watchdog just unleashed a seven-page PDF that hoists Larry Page by his own petard - without actually mentioning the name Larry Page.
Compiled in "less than 30 minutes," the report reproduces Google Street View photos that appear to reveal Larry Page's cars, Larry Page's license plates, the name of the landscaping company Larry Page uses, the name of the home security company used by Larry Page's next door neighbor, the distance from the street to Larry Page's front door, and Larry Page's likely driving route to Google's Mountain View headquarters.
"There is no better evidence that individual privacy simply does not exist in Google’s world than by the chilling amount of detailed visual information Google now collects on all of us, information that any Internet user can now compile in a dossier in less than 30 minutes," reads a canned statement from Ken Boehm, Chariman of National Legal and Policy Center. "The fact that every American is now subject to this type of scrutiny with the click of a mouse is frightening."
Larry Page's driving directions
In recently revealed court documents, Google defends its spycar-fueled Street View abomination by claiming that "even in today's desert, complete privacy does not exist." But Boehm and the NLPC point out that when speaking to American politicians, Google also likes to say things like this: "Google takes privacy very seriously."
"Perhaps in Google’s world, privacy does not exist, but in the real world, individual privacy is fundamentally important and is being chipped away bit by bit every day by companies like Google," says Boehm. "Google’s hypocrisy is breathtaking."
Ah, but the NLPC doesn't take privacy as seriously as it would lead you to believe. Its seven-page Larry Page report avoids naming the Google exec, and the Virginia-based privacy watchdog is careful to redact his address. But as our friends at Valleywag point out, you can remove those redactions - in about 30 seconds.
Here at The Reg, we really care about privacy. When we redact Larry Page's name from a story that shows Street View invading his own personal space, we have no problem telling you we're talking about Larry Page.
Here's the car in his driveway - and maybe his gardener drinking a soda:
Mountain View Lexus
Do with this what you will. ®
It's not about whether they should have the right to do it
It's about common decency. Just because they can take pictures of everything doesn't mean that they should.
One of the big things about rights is responsibilities - and the biggest responsibility is to use your rights responsibly.
Google and their ilk are pretty much like web criminals - they get us into a vicious circle of exploit/regulation much as the crims run a vicious circle of exploit/defence.
Of course Google is a company - big difference. They are granted more rights and defences by our governments than we are and we are the ones who end up regulated to protect them from us.
The really sad thing is that people don't just fall for it - they sign up for it like turkeys singing xmas carols. Even people who one would hope were guided by rationale and logic rather than marketing and myth refuse to open their eyes.
How many times do we have to read the same fanboi crap from supposedly educated people who personalise corporations, fall for the celebrity status of a few individuals and assign the corporations human like motivations?
I expect the answer is - a few more googillion times yet.
Where's the rant icon?
I'm an advocate of both freedom of speech and personal privacy. I also worry about the amount of data Google can and does collect and some of the people that they "work closely with".
People seem to be missing the points a little with streetview a little.
1) the images are shot on the public highway, not subject to restrictions that people seem intent to impose and, being as how its on the street -not private images.
If streetview shows me you have a cat and a car, I am the very model of disinterest in this unsurprising fact (as is the cat) and if you accidentally flash your knickers then a polite letter will probably see them get photoshop out and if you stand in your window butt nekkid then you deserve it for public exposure but again I see this being edited out very quickly.
2) None of the information is restricted, including licence plates (which belong to the government NOT you).
Guess what, I saw your number plate when you parked outside the shop, I saw it when you drove past me and I saw it in the car park, I didn't care then -I don't care now.
3) More worrying information is available from Google Earth, here I see you sunbathing nekkid in the privacy of your garden, I get a good idea of the layout of your house and entries/exits and a plan of the best routes.
4) Google Earth is a brilliant idea implemented very well. You'll get to see places that real life means you will never want/have chance to visit. It only shows what is visible to the public and they are good about censorship (better than I think they need be)
I think it's too easy for people to bash big companies for the sake of it. But it's also easy to do it to the point of making people numb to the real issues.
Goggle does stuff which is very dodgy when it comes to privacy and that needs highlighting, but if you bash everything they do (especially good, useful and interesting tools) then the argument just becomes another dry "hey it's a successful company lets all point and sneer"
Paris, cos she could think before speaking too.
Not just in the article:
I assume the article blanking is a joke with reference to the linked PDF as simply copying the text or images in the PDF reveals what is blacked out.