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Google's Streetview Seen As Culturally Insensitive In Japan

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the so-don't-look dept.

Privacy 524

Jim O'Connell writes "Global Voices has a translation of an excellent open letter to Google by Osamu Higuchi, explaining that Street view is too invasive for Japanese traditional values when used in residential areas. Having lived here for ten years, most recently in an older residential area, I can attest to its accuracy — Living in such close proximity to your neighbors, it becomes necessary to 'not look' at everything that you might be able see from a place such as the street, where you may have a legal right to be. The cultural boundaries are simply different than those of the US."

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Same here. (5, Insightful)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543331)

The cultural boundaries are simply different than those of the US.

It's that way here in the U.S. too. It is impolite to take photos in people's windows. Google just doesn't care.

Re:Same here. (3, Insightful)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543365)

yeah, wasn't there a couple awhile back that sued [slashdot.org] google about this?

Re:Same here. (3, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543471)

And it applies to many other places in the world too.

Maybe time for Google to be a bit more careful about what they look at.

Re:Same here. (3, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543807)

We recently got Street View in Australia and I honestly cant see what the privacy fuss is about.

My house is on it. It looks pretty good.
Nothing invading my privacy at all.

Re:Same here. (1)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543921)

Ok, then the link please.

Much more in Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543535)

Here in Europe, this feeling of privacy is much stronger than in Japan. So much so that we even have privacy laws protecting normal people (not so much public figures). Google's streetview might even be considered illegal if they make the people identifiable.

Re:Same here. (5, Interesting)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543621)

Google just doesn't care.

What this really reminds us of is that meatspace is fundamentally different from cyberspace. On the net, we've evolved the ROBOTS.TXT for just this problem, and everybody agrees that websites aren't private by default, unless the owners explicitly say so. Google is a net company, and views the world as if it was an extension of the internet.

But the real world is not like the net, and in the real world the ROBOTS.TXT convention is inverted: the onus is not on the people to inform Google which data is out of bounds, instead the onus is on Google to ask every possible person which data is public. As a result, Google's company culture is fundamentally ill suited for meatspace information gathering.

The streetview example is only one of a long line of self inflicted troubles Google has brought upon itself. Here are some other examples:

When Google started scanning books and offering them online, it was behaving like a net company, assuming that if it went to a library, everything was available to them unless specifically prohibited, just like on a website. But the real world doesn't work like the web, and Google got sued by publishers. The correct approach was to ask the publishers for permission, for each and every book.

When Google started offering news stories written by others online, it was behaving like a net company, assuming that if it's on somebody's website, they can use it unless the ROBOTS.TXT says otherwise. But in the real world, those websites were only licensed to display syndicated news stories from the big organizations (Reuters, AP, AFP,...), and Google got rightly sued. The correct approach was for Google to license the material from Reuters, AP, AFP etc. themselves, before showing the material to their users.

When Google stated that Gmail wouldn't necessarily delete peoples' emails even if they shut their accounts, they got in trouble. In the real world, emails are considered private by most people, and just because they use Google's service doesn't mean they want Google to keep everything.

These examples show that Google's netroots are both an advantage (when competing in net technologies) and also a disadvantage (when trying to enter markets where the internet rules don't map well to reality). The world is more complex than what Google's management thinks.

You conveniently ommitting... (4, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543655)

The fact that Google won those suits, for the most part.

Re:You conveniently ommitting... (5, Informative)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543713)

The fact that Google settled those suits, for the most part.

There, I fixed it for ya.

Re:Same here. (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543799)

Google is a net company, and views the world as if it was an extension of the internet.

I'd buy that for a first or second offence, but you then go on to list a number of similar offences; Google really should have learnt its lesson by now.

Not only that, but Google is just a company, and a company is made up of people - it is the people who make the decisions. Those people really should appreciate the difference between the online and offline worlds, and should realise that the vast majority of people value their privacy.

Re:Same here. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543825)

The fundamental difference is about opt-in vs opt-out.

In the real world, you didn't opt-in. As far as we know, you didn't choose to be born, or where to be born, or who your parents would be. This is fundamental to the truths we hold to be self-evident; that all are created equal, and should thus be granted equal rights at birth -- that only through your own actions, after birth, can you limit your rights.

However, on the Internet, you absolutely did opt-in, in the most fundamental way -- there is no basic human necessity to use a computer, let alone place information on a publicly accessible webserver. Therefore, we can assume that when people opt-in to these communities, they've had the opportunity to learn about how ROBOTS.TXT works -- or simply to assume that Google will index everything.

I'm not sure the change is that fundamental, though. How much opportunity do we have in the real world? There is enough empty space, both in civilization and outside it. Structures are easy to build. It is therefore possible for most people to be able to hide themselves.

I would argue that, within a city (the only place "street view" has a point), people are generally citizens, who have generally chosen to play by the rules -- and one of these rules is, quite simply, that the street (and anything it can see) is public property and fair game.

Briefly:

When Google started scanning books and offering them online, it was behaving like a net company, assuming that if it went to a library, everything was available to them unless specifically prohibited, just like on a website. But the real world doesn't work like the web, and Google got sued by publishers.

Well, except the real world does work that way. I don't know about you, but my public library includes a copy machine. I don't know if I've seen scanners on their computers, but I have seen printers, and I wouldn't be surprised.

I have never, in my life, gone up and asked for permission to copy a single page. Nor have I seen anyone else ask.

In other words, it's a question of magnitude, and possibly of commercial interest. I'm not xeroxing the entire book, even once, and I'm certainly not putting ads on each copied page to make a profit.

When Google started offering news stories written by others online, it was behaving like a net company, assuming that if it's on somebody's website, they can use it unless the ROBOTS.TXT says otherwise. But in the real world, those websites were only licensed to display syndicated news stories from the big organizations (Reuters, AP, AFP,...), and Google got rightly sued.

In this case, I would argue that it's the real-world rules which are at fault -- given that it is trivial to block a particular bot from indexing your pages (or even all bots), and it is also trivial to demand that Google stop indexing your site -- there is quite possibly no human involvement from them in such a demand.

If these technical solutions are inadequate, it's certainly not because Google wishes to "pirate" news stories. A simple solution would be to talk to Google, either before or during the suit, about a technical solution -- maybe ask (kindly) that Google respect some new way of using ROBOTS.TXT to allow indexing, for search purposes only, but not syndication.

When Google stated that Gmail wouldn't necessarily delete peoples' emails even if they shut their accounts, they got in trouble. In the real world, emails are considered private by most people, and just because they use Google's service doesn't mean they want Google to keep everything.

This is, again, a case of misunderstanding on the part of people using Gmail. If these aren't in the terms of service, that would be the simple solution.

Take the case of the Craigslist troll. [10zenmonkeys.com] While I might, in good faith, expect that a kinky BDSM photo sent to a prospective mate would be kept private, I'm still a moron if I send such a photo to anyone I don't trust. (This is assuming, of course, that I'm embarrassed of my kinks, and wish to hide this from the world -- none of which is true for me, but it's common enough.)

So, in the case of Gmail, even if you conclude that Google is in the wrong -- I don't, because I know how Google's filesystem works -- it's still your fault for trusting Google with your data in the first place. As Obi-Wan Kenobi says: "Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him?"

These examples show that Google's netroots are both an advantage (when competing in net technologies) and also a disadvantage (when trying to enter markets where the internet rules don't map well to reality).

I'd agree with that. However...

The world is more complex than what Google's management thinks.

And the Internet world is both simpler and wilder than what the average person thinks.

You explained it very well with ROBOTS.TXT: If you put data out on the Internet, it is out, and should be considered globally available, unless you go out of your way to make it private. It takes less than ten seconds to read that last sentence aloud, and Google would have none of these problems if the average person understood it.

Because there's another problem here: Google is not a monopoly. There are many more ways of obtaining the same information. Any solution you propose which requires cooperation from Google also requires cooperation from everyone else.

And unlike the real world, there's always some troll who will deliberately not cooperate, if only to see what happens -- and when they do, there's usually nothing you can do about it.

Re:Same here. (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543867)

There is a technical solution to a social problem then. Everyone gets chipped with RFID, and can link their ID to a robots.txt.

Re:Same here. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543887)

In other words, we have an opt-out for websites instead of an opt-in.

Re:Same here. (5, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543633)

Exactly. A total bullshit statement, pardon my french. It is not that Google does not care either. It is a pervasive campaign by government and corporations to remove all expectations of privacy from anywhere EXCEPT private property that is literally 100% covered from view. Google is not supposed to "be evil". Yeah right. I'll believe that when they stop keeping logs well past 12 months. I don't mean to bash specifically on Google or anything, but they don't seem to have a stellar track record with respect to consumer's rights and expectations of privacy.

That kind of behavior is not remotely consistent with our cultural values. Our cultural values are diverse as well, as we are a nation of immigrants. I don't know a single person that is comfortable being on a security camera while in their backyard or even in the front yard. It's just not acceptable.

Obviously where the US and Japan differ, is that the Japanese still strongly fight for their expectations of privacy or "cultural values" while in the US there is a sense of apathy and hopelessness. Those that would dare to speak up and passionately fight for anonymity, privacy, and just plain decent respect for other people's boundaries get labeled as subversive, unpatriotic, fanatical, and paranoid.

For the RECORD, I would have to say that AMERICAN VALUES (which anybody can have regardless of nationality, race, gender, etc.) is STRONGLY supportive of both privacy and anonymity. We like to to be free, and do exactly what we want when we want it, within reason of course. We don't believe that we should have to walk around in public or private identifying ourselves to anyone that asks, especially when we are just minding our own business. If someone is watching us, then we want to know who it is. There is a lot more too it, but it is not even remotely close to how I personally feel.

I guess I just resent the implication since it makes it sound like we are a totalitarian fascist country devoid of any of the freedoms we once cherished, fought, and died to protect. I guess I resent more that maybe, it is in fact, a correct assessment and that we ended up exporting all of our freedom and democracy while losing it all.

Re:Same here. (3, Insightful)

shoemilk (1008173) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543689)

This is a country that blurs out buildings on TV shows so people won't know where they are. It's ridiculous sometimes. The entire screen will be a giant blur except for the staffer's head floating in the middle. On the news, if a building is shown, half the time it'll be from an odd angle that won't allow you to make out the surrounding area or blurred out all together.

I LOVE Google Streetview! (1)

EmotionToilet (1083453) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543847)

It's amazing! I use it to travel the streets of other countries and see what it's like there. I use it to look for new places to live so I can check out the area a little bit without having to drive all the way over there. It's great. Infact, it's one of the main reasons I prefer Google Maps over other online map services (mapquest sucks IMO). I would hate to see a service like this disappear. At the same time I feel the Japanese need to lighten up and change their culture so that it is not so strict. Google is documenting public territory, and making it widely available and I see nothing wrong with that. They can photograph my house anytime. Nothing too exciting or private happening here anyways.

It's called a fence. (1, Funny)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543335)

Look into it.

It's called having a place to put a fence. (4, Informative)

shoemilk (1008173) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543631)

You appropriately got modded down, but I thought maybe some one should explain to you, not everywhere has the same geography/city layout. Before you ignorantly posted this, you might have wanted to experience Japan by at least looking through streetview and you would realize what you suggest is near impossible for a large percentage of the population. There are very beautiful houses with immaculate gardens that are surrounded by walls and then there are apartment builds or duplexes built on top of each other and almost nothing in between.

Re:It's called a fence. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543815)

did that, but planning laws specifically disallow a front fence where I live.

Try again.

I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (5, Interesting)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543361)

I don't know that what google is doing is taboo seeing as they are a technology in this case not a person.

If it's taboo to spy on your neighbors then don't use Google's street view. Or at the very least keep the view centered on the road.

You can't claim "the photo made you look". It's like child pornography. The fact that it exists does not force you to go download it. If you find it impolite to look at people's houses... don't look at people's houses. I'm going to let those who find the images offensive in on a little secret: nothing is stopping some insensitive smeghead from just driving down your street and staring at your house.

My view on all this? The Googmobile drove past work this last week and I hung out the window and waved.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (4, Insightful)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543397)

I don't know that what google is doing is taboo seeing as they are a technology in this case not a person.

And Google is not run by people?

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543415)

And Google is not run by people?

Of course Google isn't run by people. The company reached singularity years ago.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (4, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543417)

If the people at Google were reviewing the images then yes it would be 'run by people'. But I imagine the process is almost completely automated by this point. The invasion of privacy is to look at someone's house. Not the camera capturing the image.

It's a question of ethics. A camera cannot commit an immoral act. Only a photographer can. Google's web crawler cannot be charged with child pornography possession if it simply indexes a page containing child pornography. Google's street view is nothing more than an automated tool which captures data.

It only becomes a question of morality when someone chooses to view those images. Morality can only be tied into intent. If you view child pornography on accident then you have not commited an immoral act. If you intend to view child pornography and you view it then you've committed an immoral act.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543457)

It's not the act of looking at Streetview that the writer is talking about. It's the act of photographers working for Google who take pictures of places that the common culture would deem too private to be photographed and then putting those up for everyone to see. People taking pictures of your house and inside your windows without your knowledge is very much an immoral act in my book.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (4, Interesting)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543563)

Taking a picture inside my bathroom however is physically impossible for a stranger to do. If on the other hand strangers were walking through my bathroom every day then it would be as easy for them to sneak a peek while walking through my bathroom as going online and sneeking a peek. They could be rigged with cameras which I don't know about. If a road ran through my bathroom then every single car could have a secret camera in it. People could be planting tiny cell phone video cameras in dumpsters across from my bathroom. TFA was very specific in its accusation that it was bad because people could look without being discovered. But looking without anyone 'finding you out' is possible without the assistance of google. It requires intent for the peeping tom to rotate the camera to the side and look out the side of the window. If I were there in person it requires intent for me to look to the side.

This is a human use question not a technological one. Those who have a right to look to the side of the road... should look at side of the road pictures. Those who do not have a reason to look along the side of the road--who are upstanding and considerate individuals should not look at those pictures.

So what category do burglars fall into? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543913)

This is a human use question not a technological one. Those who have a right to look to the side of the road... should look at side of the road pictures. Those who do not have a reason to look along the side of the road--who are upstanding and considerate individuals should not look at those pictures.

So which category do burglars using Street View to "pre-case" thousands of houses without showing their faces or number plates in the neighborhood fall into?

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543467)

If the people at Google were reviewing the images then yes it would be 'run by people'. But I imagine the process is almost completely automated by this point. The invasion of privacy is to look at someone's house. Not the camera capturing the image.

Someone is pointing the camera.

If someone is not pointing the camera, then someone built the device that points the camera.

The intention is still the same, no matter how many tools are used and how many degrees of separation there are. The comparison to a webcrawler is invalid, as the people who made the technology in this case knew very well what their automated tool would be indexing. Houses aren't websites that can be hosting anything. They host people.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (1)

dainichi (1181931) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543755)

Someone is pointing the camera.

If someone is not pointing the camera, then someone built the device that points the camera.

You seem to be forgetting that the googmobile is using a 360 degree camera. There is no "pointing" per se.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (1, Insightful)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543505)

Google created this technology and control it, therefore they are responsible for it's use.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (2, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543813)

Well I guess that's the root of the argument isn't it.

Is Google responsible for how you use their technology?

Is BitTorrent responsible for piracy? It sure does make piracy convenient!

Street view has a legitimate use and an insensitive and privacy invasive use. Which it becomes is not a property of the photo but of the viewer.

If there were a real-world means of preventing someone from seeing something which google was circumventing then YES google would be violating privacy. Google is simply refusing to pass judgement on a user's legal request for information. Google is not in the business of determining what is and is not "sensitive". Maybe looking at porn is taboo or even 'sinful' but that's not Google's responsibility that's yours.

Every webpage and blog on the internet can contain extrmely private information about my life. Maybe there is a Blog by someone I know detailing my every unfavorable action. It's not Google's responsibility to not index that. If the information is legal then it should be indexed without any bias or prejudice on Google's part.

Are you honestly suggesting that Google should be censoring content it indexes based on "morality" and not legality? Maybe it shouldn't index wiccan webpages. Wicca is tabboo. Christian Moms might not expect their children to learn more about wicca.

TFA says that someone taking pictures would be taken to the police station for "Questioning". In other words you would be harassed and if you weren't plotting an actual crime let go without a charge. What the Japanese people are about to discover is that their expectation of privacy was ALREADY too high. They were thinking anybody who was insensitive and snooping would be discovered. This was a false sense of security. It was already trivial to take photos of a place you thought was private... legally... and without being noticed.

What should be suprising and shocking isn't that Google is doing it. But that if Google is doing it anby who is sufficiently motivated could do it.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543517)

I programmed this butterfly to seek you out and kill you but it is no longer my responsibility because it is an automated process. No one suspects the butterfly...

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543521)

I don't think you can just make an automated process and then say that you're not responsible for what it does. That's silly.

I mean, if I made a little robot to fly into houses and take pictures, you wouldn't be fine with that, would you? Even though I didn't damage your property or enter your house?

If I posted the pictures online without looking at them, would you be fine with that, and only get angry at the people who visited the website?

No one where I live would care about street view, since people look at each other's yards all the time, but Japan is another country and they have their own way of doing things.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (1)

Sophia Ricci (1337419) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543635)

I agree to a large extent, but what you are overlooking is there is a tool out there which could be misused a lot or could cause damage to social harmony. And that tool is created by people at Google.

Regarding child pornography, Yes, Google's web crawler can not be charged. But if they created some other tool that helps the offenders big way, they definitely will be equally guilty.

My 2 cents.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543745)

Google's street view is nothing more than an automated tool which captures data.

Let's make a deal -- I accept Google's street view and you have to give me back all the rest of the intrusive personal surveillance in the US.

I live near a long street which had a T-intersection going into a neighborhood mall (supermarket, laundry, hardware, etc.). Across the street over the past couple of years, they built a huge block of apartments on land that's been vacant for the past 40 years that I've lived here. It has one entrance, directly across the street from the mall entrance. Within days of the new street appearing, we were gifted with cams pointing in all four directions -- this for a hinkey little intersection. They're also at just about every other intersection in this city that merits stop lights.

"Traffic" cams, my asshole -- they're fucking Stalin's wettest dream come to life.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (1)

caywen (942955) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543703)

That's right. They are run by search bots and Android.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (1)

Jotii (932365) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543899)

You probably misunderstood the parent. He referred to the taboo being looking into someone's window, not inadvertently enabling someone to look into someone else's window.

Google is run by leftists (-1, Flamebait)

leereyno (32197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543923)

Google is run by leftists.

Whether they qualify as human or not is debatable.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (-1, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543407)

this is exactly what you american's don't get - not everyone is a rude son of a bitch...

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543523)

While I somewhat agree, we might do some taboo things in the privacy of our own home. For example, I might occasionally look at pornographic pictures in the privacy of my own home. But I probably wouldn't sit in an airport or coffee shop and look at pornographic pictures.

So, no, I probably wouldn't walk down the street looking in people's houses. But if I can see what's going on in people's houses anonymously from the privacy of my own home, I might consider doing so.

Actually, if I were Google, though, I'd just let people know when the van will be coming down the street so that they can make a choice as to whether to close their curtains or not.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543697)

I agree with you but it's sort of like the old saying "A lock keeps an honest man honest" which I completely disagree with.

An honest man does not steal something regardless if it's unlocked. A lock simply stops a dishonest men who thinks they can get away without being caught. Google maps streetview simply let's insensitive people get away with their insensitivity without as high of risk of their insensitivity being discovered.

Google isn't providing an image that couldn't be serendipitously and legally aquired by a regular citizen for their own personal gratification. TFA lists one of the threats to privacy is criminals "casing out your house". That could just as easily be done with a quick drive by. Most "casing" involves multiple trips. Observations over time to find patterns and weaknesses. A single driveby provides insufficient information.

If the existance of photos is illegal then tinted passenger windows provide an equally useful screen behind which to spy with impunity.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543627)

I don't think this should have been modded flamebait when he's correct. I do think Street View is going to have a tough time outside of the US but the fact is there isn't any thing wrong with Street View and you don't have to use it.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (3, Insightful)

ronocdh (906309) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543651)

I thought Taboos applied to people not things

The notion of what is taboo is generally applied to actions, not people or things. In this case, the action would be 1) viewing things considered private by this society and 2) publishing these things and making them extremely searchable.

In other words, totally freaking taboo.

Re:I thought Taboos applied to people not things. (4, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543693)

If it's taboo to spy on your neighbors then don't use Google's street view. Or at the very least keep the view centered on the road.

Ah, yes, always push responsibility away, isn't it? Don't you feel this clashes with all the fine words about privacy that we always hear so much about on Slashdot? Or is privacy only important when you hide your own lurid little affair from the view of the authorities? If privacy is all-important, then it is important even to people you don't care about.

Please tell me you're trolling. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543905)

If it's taboo to spy on your neighbors then don't use Google's street view. Or at the very least keep the view centered on the road.

I've tried three times to write a polite response to this comment, and I don't think I can manage it. If you really can't understand people's response to the transparent society then you're just not human.

Megacorp versus Local Community, Again? (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543371)

We've got an international corporation coming into conflict with local values that its upper management probably didn't even realize existed. I hope that those values win out without having to resort to legislation (ie, Google accepts and removes street view in the areas that request it).

If that doesn't happen, even with Google, then I will no longer have any illusions about the possibility of peace between those two worlds.

I wonder what Corrupt.org's take on this will be, if they run an article on it...

Re:Megacorp versus Local Community, Again? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543401)

Most countries have their own boundaries and privacy expectations, very few of which match the general "ideal" American view. Streetview is only possible if culture is ignored, which can only serve to reinforce conservatism and isolationism, as the instinctive reaction to boundary violations is to repel the offender.

Re:Megacorp versus Local Community, Again? (2, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543653)

In Australia stranglely enough the pedophilla card was played against google streetview. An article in one newspaper showed a photograph of a campaigner against it with her two young girls - and the implication was that the girls were in danger because there was a photograph of their house on the internet.

This is one step beyond the irrational fear of a photograph stealing away your soul - in this case the people feared for where not in the photograph and it would take a lot of effort to link the two. Hopefully exploring this irrational fear this will launch some social pychologist on a shining career when they work out what is broken in people's heads that makes this fear so common.

Re:Megacorp versus Local Community, Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543769)

Honestly the child porn card is played way too much. Just from what little I've read, child porn is distributed simply by uploading to free webs or equivalent through a few proxies and downloaded by people who know where to find it. No need for "dark nets" or anything fancy. There is very little that can be done to stop it, given the abundance of anonymous places stuff can be hosted.

Usenet was only one of the many places it resides, clearly "getting rid of usenet" was only to hamper access to binaries.

Feds should only be going after the providers in their efforts to stop cp.

Re:Megacorp versus Local Community, Again? (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543681)

Yeah, because Corrupt.org is always a good source of information

http://www.corrupt.org/act/interviews/weev [corrupt.org]

6. What function does "Internet eugenics," or natural selection, serve within the sphere of modern human civilization? Do we also need eugenics outside of the cyber world?

Kate (as mentioned in the NYT article) suggests that the death of the trolling scene on Livejournal effectively lowered the standard of human beings which contribute content on the service. She describes communities she once valued being "filled with fucking furries" and "noone even says anything to them anymore". I contend that trolling is the chief moral arbiter of the Internet. I see little difference between the methods performed by trolls on the Internet when they ruin the lives of furries and pedophiles and the methods used by Moses when he ordered the idol worshippers killed. Martin Luther contended in his tract "On the Jews and Their Lies" that if Moses were alive today he'd be busy burning synagogues. I'm inclined to agree; the only thing keeping us deriding furries on the Internet instead of going to their furry conventions and rapidly exterminating them is the Jewish influence upon society.

Just like how the loss of troll influence upon the Livejournal community resulted in a lower quality of human inhabiting the site, the lack of memetic selection upon Western civilization is resulting in a drastically lower quality of human being infesting it. For Western values to survive, those who attack them must be exterminated. We should start with the furries, and move to the media moguls who are glorifying prostitution and drug use.

Upon some timeline Protestants are going to have to stand up and admit that it is their belief system that made their nations so great, and that without their persistent influence they will degrade into the third world shitholes from which they began.

Re:Megacorp versus Local Community, Again? (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543753)

That's a question from an interview and the interviewee's response. I don't see why it would imply that the site isn't a source of good information.

And if you're waiting for a site that's _always_ a source of good information and nothing but that, don't hold your breath.

No suprise (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543409)

It's not like there hasn't been any controversy about this technology in other countries.

No addresses in Japan. (4, Insightful)

Simple-Simmian (710342) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543411)

For a country like Japan that doesn't use "addresses" Streetview is a god send.

No addresses? (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543439)

What do they do? (Genuinely curious.)

Re:No addresses? (0, Redundant)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543507)

They call a phone number to request a temporary address whenever they want to send or receive mail. I hear they call it the DHCP service

Re:No addresses? (1)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543603)

Actually -you COULD probably just use numerics and STILL get your mail in Japan...

e.g the string "8150083,4-8-12-303" specifies a particular apartment and is all the post office really needs.

That said, of course we have addresses - fairly logical ones at that.

Re:No addresses? (4, Interesting)

kbs (70631) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543519)

They do sort of have addresses, but it's by subdivision of block. As an example, a particular Hostel I was at was at "Shinjuku-ku, 5-2 Katamachi"

So to find it you need to go to the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, and then look for the Katamachi block, then find sub-block 5, and then it's the 2nd building in that section. Luckily for me the search space wasn't that large, but it's still definitely a two dimensional search rather than a one dimensional search...

View Map [google.com]

Re:No addresses? (2, Interesting)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543551)

That's not a "sort of address" - it's an address - and a pretty logical one too, by British standards at least.

Japan names its intersections, not its roads, and generally names "what is bounded" rather than "what bounds it" (i.e. a road.)

Re:No addresses? (1)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543569)

Yeah, my address is set up at a certain block of Inuotose, but since I live in a very small town, I can usually just use the town, the block, and the apartment and get my mail.

Re:No addresses? (1)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543613)

your postcode and the numeric elements of your chome (or whatever) are probably sufficient. Just numbers and hyphens.

Re:No addresses? (1)

shoemilk (1008173) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543649)

Actually, you don't even need that. You can get your mail with just the Zip and block number (large city or small town). That's why the zips were made.

Re:No addresses? (1)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543677)

I doubt that: I believe (but do not know) that postcodes can cover more than one chome ...

So I think you have to specify which chome.

The addressing system is different (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543707)

Japan is literally where the streets have no name. So you cannot just go along a particular road and know that you're headed in the right direction.

Japan divides its cities into various districts/wards/townships/administrative areas, which are further divided into block numbers, and each structure in the block has numbers. But there's not usually any pattern to the numbering. You could have house number 3 between house number 1 and 2, if 3 was built later, for example.

So given an address, it's very difficult to find it in the real world, and people generally have to resort to asking directions at the police station, post office, convenience store, etc.

Re:The addressing system is different (1)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543743)

"people"?

Some perhaps - but very few. It certainly isn't "general" amongst the population as a whole.

  I do find that generally speaking (and with exceptions), Americans tend to be more disorientated by Japanese addresses than, for example, Brits.

A lot depends on what you are used to in your own country.

I have found no more difficulty getting around Japan than getting around a British city.
 

Re:The addressing system is different (1)

mad flyer (589291) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543829)

Tell that to japanese taxi drivers... without ATC radio control they would not even find the exit of the parking...

Re:The addressing system is different (1)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543851)

Sure - but they are on 24 hours shifts. They spend the first 4 hours recovering from the drugs they used to help them sleep and the last 6 hours nodding off at the wheel...

[I generally consider it polite not to awaken a taxi-driver until we have reached our destination.]

Re:No addresses in Japan. (1)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543493)

Of course they have addresses!

I wrote a whole website to allow one to look up Japanese addresses in English: [http://diddlefinger.com] so I know of what I speak...

That said, I doubt I will be adding streetview to my maps site. People caught on it are too easily identifiable by neighbours in their area, despite the faces being fuzzed out.

Re:No addresses in Japan. (1)

mad flyer (589291) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543845)

Yeah... they have addresses, it's the common sense in the structure of the addressing scheme that is completely out of whack...

Re:No addresses in Japan. (1)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543889)

In what way?

It operates on a different principle perhaps, but it is perfectly logical and fairly easy to use.

Re:No addresses in Japan. (1)

caywen (942955) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543685)

First thing, they do have addresses. Either you're wrong, or the thing we write on the envelopes to my wife's parents in Japan are useless scribbles, and we've been getting unimaginably lucky. Second thing, a godsend to who? Sounds to me like this feature isn't wanted. The Japanese are plenty brilliant, and if they needed something like this, they would have had it years ago.

Re:No addresses in Japan. (0, Troll)

mad flyer (589291) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543853)

Japanese, brilliant ?

Where is your japan ? because mine is dwelled by moronic inbred spewing xenophobic rethorics day in day out...

So maybe the plane landed at the wrong place...

Re:No addresses in Japan. (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543751)

No. Google Maps is a godsend. Streetview is fluff.

Morals only when someone can see you? (4, Insightful)

Scott Kevill (1080991) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543449)

Do they only "not look" because they are worried that someone will see them look? But in the privacy of their homes, no one will know they are checking out other people's houses?
While I know it is a touchy subject in general, I find their reason odd. If no one wanted to look because of morals, they wouldn't look when they couldn't get caught either. That kind of defeats their higher moral ground argument.

asper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543465)

It wouldn't matter if google removed it. Some other company would eventually make another street view feature, It's inevitable. Japan needs to realize the 21st century.

Re:asper (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543491)

Japan needs to realize the 21st century.

Big job for a small country.

Re:asper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543575)

Japan needs to realize the 21st century.

Big job for a small country.

They will not stand in our way. It's the next paradigm, the next step in the evolution of humanity. We will, nay, must make streetviews of the world!

Mwa ha ha ha!

After living there... (4, Interesting)

Taulin (569009) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543557)

Speaking as an American who grew up in America, married to a Japanese woman, and lived in Tokyo for two years while going to animation school, going through these street views is pretty spooky. I feel like a ghost freely walking along the streets, watching old haunts of a place I once knew and felt at home. It's two AM in the morning, so my wife is asleep, but I can't wait until she wakes up and I can show her the parent's house!

Just experienced this today (1)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543561)

What an interesting article to be up here right now; I am starting my third year living in Japan and last afternoon walked out of my apartment with my current gf to go get lunch, much to the giggling of the next door second grader. While I live in the countryside, people still live close together and I think between me and my neighbors being noisy at different times we've all gotten on each others nerves.

But as the article suggests, people understand that's the cost of living close together and there is an amount of privacy people are willing to give you. As Google grows bigger here (the internet hub, really is Yahoo, but I've noticed some people using Google Maps for routes and things) this might become more and more of an issue, especially in places like Tokyo with many technologically savvy people and a high population density.

Cultural boundries (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543577)

>cultural boundaries are simply different than those of the US.

Well then call me Japanese.
I don't like the fact that anyone with my address can just see what's in my backyard.

I mean, maybe it's okay if you see it. And you. And you. But not you.

how do you say (2, Funny)

evwah (954864) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543593)

how do you say "clod" in japanese?

Re:how do you say (2, Informative)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543641)

"baka" or "noroma" are two options....

Re:how do you say (2, Funny)

amrik98 (1214484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543647)

kuroddo

Re:how do you say (2, Funny)

evwah (954864) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543671)

well then google is clearly full of Insensitive kuroddo!

Re:how do you say (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543857)

kuroddo

Is this a transliteration of "clod"???

japanese are interested in this (1)

traycerb (728174) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543661)

Similar to other countries where Street View has been rolled out, some Japanese have created a site with a collection of interesting images from their country's Street View: http://google-streetview.seesaa.net/ [seesaa.net]

I think the original Japanese author has some odd notions about American perceptions of privacy (your front yard as a public space?), and overemphasizes what real cultural differences exist; many Americans have much the same concerns.

FTA:

Japanese people intuitively recognize that a flesh-and-blood human being peeking into people's living space from the alleyway results in trouble, so ordinary people don't do this kind of thing.

...and if they do, Americans would reply "Hey, whadda you lookin at??" See? Not so different after all.

In Soviet Russia, and more (5, Interesting)

caywen (942955) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543665)

In Soviet Russia, the street views YOU. Seriously though, I completely agree with this letter. My wife is Japanese and has been living here in the Bay Area for 5 years. She's pretty accustomed to American life, but as soon as I showed the Street View Japan, she went silent and then said something like, "No. no no no, this is bad. Not in Japan. No way." And her friends feel exactly the same way. It really is a cultural difference, and Google really is asking for a world of hurt here. What is astounding is that they pretty much did *all* of Tokyo. Look at how much of that map is blue. Did it occur to them to try it out in a small area to see how the Japanese would react? To me, this reeks of extreme hubris on Google's part.

Real estate (4, Insightful)

NewToNix (668737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543667)

Well Japan may not like Street View, and maybe some people here in the U.S. don't like it either.

But I'm currently looking for a new (well new to me) house to buy --and where I need to move to is several hundred miles from where I live now.

Google Street View has been a godsend for me --I can get a easy idea of the neighborhood and usually the property it's self --for free, from home.

So, as usual, any new use of technology has upsides as well as downsides... and who ever I buy the house from will be very happy about my use of Street view. (eventually I will have to go and take a physical look, but my list of places to look at will be vastly shorter because of S.V.)

Japan respects privacy??? (3, Informative)

D H NG (779318) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543695)

This is the country where the most well-known cultural hero [time.com] is a robotic cat from the future who has an arsenal of privacy-invading tools [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Japan respects privacy??? (2, Interesting)

amrik98 (1214484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543747)

On a more serious side though, isn't it ironic that Japanese care so much about privacy only when it applies to them? They couldn't care less if gaijin (foreigners) get fingerprinted and photographed when they enter Japan. (The only Japanese who ever get fingerprinted are criminals)

Re:Japan respects privacy??? (1)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543781)

> (The only Japanese who ever get fingerprinted are criminals)

If you are burgled the police will often want to take your prints so they know which are yours. No suggestion there that you are a criminal. It may be voluntary though - I am not sure.

But then coming to Japan is, or was at some point, "voluntary". It may be inconvenient to ship partner/kids back to one's own country - but it is not impossible. In that sense you have a choice - in principle at least, however hard in practice if partner kicks up a fuss.

Few countries regard the civil liberties of their alien populations as being as important as those of their citizens. The Japanese are not alone in this respect.

Re:Japan respects privacy??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24543843)

If you are burgled the police will often want to take your prints

But do they then database them for the next hundred years as we do in the US. Here you can toss a coke can in the street and have the storm troopers kick your door in some night because they found your retained fingerprints on the can.

Re:Japan respects privacy??? (1)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543879)

I don't think they do, actually - it was all very low tech at the police station last time I gave prints (someone had pinched something from my office.)

The government has had my prints for years, for the alien registration document - but that was held by the ward office and I am not sure who else had access to it.

Now though they have prints taken when I entered Japan after Nov 2007 - I assume those are on computer somewhere central/accessible.

Re:Japan respects privacy??? (2, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543819)

Entering Japan is voluntary and requires action on my part. Where do I sign to tell Google that it's ok for them to feature me or my property in StreetView?

Re:Japan respects privacy??? (0, Troll)

mad flyer (589291) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543875)

I got several theories about this... they all involve either a hidden habbit of making newborn drink bleach in order to become obedient ant-workers or... the massive inbreeding linked to their island living space and belief to be a superior race...

partial solution (2, Insightful)

holywarrior21c (933929) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543763)

What about using recognition software that automatically pixelizes human and possibly put symbols or replacement image instead of privacy sensitive place such as love hotels? This is not the matter of culture people. if this matters in Japan it freaking matters here in the States people. i believe that google has such technology and HR to do so. I hope that people are not saying this "You Yankees have no idea how the Japanese live. we like sushi but you don't eat sushi. so don't do that." that kind of appeal won't work. people should let google know that this invasion of privacy is 'not acceptable not only in Japan, it is not in the U.S, Europe and everywhere else.' So what is higuchi going to do? is it gonna make any change by ranting on his blog? i believe that he has inexperienced abroad, not to mention the States. As an non-US national residing in the States we have the very same problem here and in other countries as well, at least the country where i came from. I don't know how to change neither because i don't think anything will stop google unless the Japanese govn't steps in and tell them to Fuck off the site. lawsuit? ha! you know how many people use the streetview and how much revenue it is generating? and what percentage of people in Japan who know about this site serously care of privacy when theirs are not invaded? those who are japanese and has their privacy invaded and don't like about it, they are just fucked up. I see this kind of article coming out of Japan and in other countries in general. I came from Korea so i know well about this kind of rants. These kind of hate-n-blame rants make to the top headlines of web portals and even major news papers each day. So i am more annoyed by these people who rant online like this. did he ever think about his own problems in his life? doees he even have right to say "google has crossed the line?" I feel the way that this issue is not correctly understood by Higuchi. i was reading through Higuchi's article and i was thinking "so this is Japan's problem not us". I am gearing more towards accepting google's practice yet this should be dealt formerly with support of government. this is just act of art of journalism. what is this going to do? think about it.

Hypocrisy is only wrong when someone else does it (5, Interesting)

bug (8519) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543789)

Since when are the Japanese sensitive about photographing private residential areas!?

I live in the Weststadt residential neighborhood of Heidelberg, Germany. Heidelberg is a beautiful city, and sees many tourists. For some reason, the Japanese tour groups frequently travel down my street. Also, for some reason, many of the older Japanese tourists frequently take pictures of me doing such mundane things as bringing home groceries. I find it amusing that I am probably in several dozen Japanese photo albums, probably entitled "typical German going to the grocery store." I find it especially amusing, because I am an expatriate American, not a German.

In any case, is it typical for the Japanese to consider their own residential neighborhood private, but everyone else's to be public?

Re:Hypocrisy is only wrong when someone else does (4, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543901)

I have blonde hair and blue eyes. Every time I have visited China I have been practically assaulted by Japanese tourists. They not only photo me. They try and touch my hair and start posing in front of me etc etc etc. Needless to say this was unappreciated.

My aunt lives in Hawaii and japanese tourists are amazed by the size of her feet. She's been lieing on the beach and had Japanese tourists come up and lay down right next to her and have their pictures taken by their family with their feet right next to hers for comparison.

It's been my conclusion that any view of privacy on the part of the Japanese is strictly limited to the island of Japan. Which I've never had a problem with from a priacy standpoint--just a personal intrusion. I don't care if I'm in a photo. I do care that I'm being prevented from going about my business by someone standing in my way trying to pose in front of me. Or touching me. They can touch my blonde hair photos on the internet all they want as long as I don't have to be there while you do it.

Prime directive (3, Interesting)

SomPost (873537) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543797)

After I had read the original article [globalvoicesonline.org] I wondered what impulse would be the stronger among the slashdot crowd: the Google-is-god/f***-the-world or the respect-other-cultures impulse. There appears to be ample evidence of both here.
So I wonder if the Google-can-do-no-harm crowd can recall their Star Trek franchise, and if they are prepared to consider whether the Prime Directive of any decent group (society, country, company) should be: "don't interfere".
That includes, as far as I remember, to repect the whishes of a society to be left alone, in general and in Street View.

It's called self-control (1)

renimar (173721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543817)

Here's an idea: DON'T CLICK ON STREETVIEW.

Seriously, how is this different than pornography? If it offends you, stop looking at it.

Re:It's called self-control (3, Insightful)

Anoraknid the Sartor (9334) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543909)

One usually CONSENTS to being in pornography....

Not just Japan (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24543863)

Street View is too intrusive for residential neighborhoods in the USA.

Stick to city centers, airports, freeways. Stay out of neighborhoods. Don't be evil.

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