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Google Japan To Help Victims of Street View Abuse

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the eviscerate-and-boil-them dept.

Google 54

Joshua writes "After repeated concerns from Japanese citizens over privacy rights violations involving Street View and a probe by Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Google Japan has announced that it will help victims of Street View photo abuse take action against offending sites. Google Japan said it would send requests to the sites for removal of maliciously used Street View images. It will also potentially block the site from Google's search engine and consider legal action for those sites which ignore or refuse the request. Action to this extent against secondary-use abusers is reportedly a first in relationship to Google's Street View worldwide."

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Examples? (4, Insightful)

oheso (898435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329399)

The story lacks any examples of what might constitute malicious abuse. I'm aware of the Streisand Effect, but if there have been lots of complaints then there should be some examples.

But the main point is the Google is responding to criticism of an invasion of privacy with a rather blatant attempt to redirect the arrow. "Yes! We published these photos and we're here to help you prosecute anyone who republishes them!"

Please ... Japanese value their privacy. (Well, some do anyway.) If republication of the photos has led to bullying, should Google share in the responsibility?

Re:Examples? (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329413)

There are entire [corank.com] sites [gstreetsightings.com] devoted [googlestre...wfunny.com] to ridiculing people and things found on Google Street View, which I assume is the kind of thing the complaints are about.

Re:Examples? (1)

oheso (898435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329511)

That's a possibility, but again, cultures and laws differ. There could well be examples in Japan of those who are already targets of harassment suddenly finding a totally innocent picture of their house being posted. Doesn't seem like much, but it could help to target the victims of harassment. And that's why I'm saying, "Examples, please."

Re:Examples? (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329583)

Wrong. Google is searching for the hidden Gundams, and the Japanese will litigate the hell out of this until Street View is gone.

Re:Examples? (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29331177)

Why isn't the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture protecting the Gundams?

Re:Examples? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29331987)

Please. If you don't want people to see you acting like a jackass in public, then don't act like a jackass in public. There are already plenty of sites [peopleofwalmart.com] devoted to ridiculing people who don't understand this simple rule.

Re:Examples? (2, Informative)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329429)

The story lacks any examples of what might constitute malicious abuse.

From TFA: "More recent complaints have been about secondary sites using Googles photos maliciously, such as for discrimination and bullying." Ok so no specific examples are given but I guess google isn't just reacting to hot air!

But the main point is the Google is responding to criticism of an invasion of privacy with a rather blatant attempt to redirect the arrow.

Well this is their second attempt at redirecting this particular arrow, the first resulted in them retaking 'numerous images about 16 inches lower than the original Street View picture height', which sounds rather bizarre!

Whatever they do 'shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted' springs to mind . . .

Re:Examples? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329469)

Well this is their second attempt at redirecting this particular arrow, the first resulted in them retaking 'numerous images about 16 inches lower than the original Street View picture height', which sounds rather bizarre!

Maybe because Japanese women are shorter than those of most other cultures, and the original shots didn't show all of their tits?

Re:Examples? (4, Insightful)

oheso (898435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329499)

It's not too bizarre. It puts the camera below the height of many privacy walls/fences. But still, the journalist should be calling Google out on this rather than simply regurgitating the press release.

Re:Examples? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29331985)

I anticipate yet another Japanese fad of 16-inch stilts and 16-inch periscope accessories.

Re:Examples? (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329433)

Well, that's the least they can do. The victims of this bullying would probably have problems getting those sites to remove the images, while Google, as the copyright owner of the images and as a big corporation with lots of hungry lawyers, might have better luck.

Still, that might not be enough to get them off the hook. Depending on the details of the cases, and without knowing anything about Japanese laws, taking pictures of someone inside their own home which caused that person some harm sounds like plausible grounds for a lawsuit against Google.

Re:Examples? (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329585)

it'll teach them to shut the blinds next time they get out their tenticled thing. personally i think this reeks of "lets sue a corperation because we can". the google car is no worse then a pair of eyes walking down the street or one of the millions of camera's around the place.

Re:Examples? (0, Redundant)

turbotroll (1378271) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329701)

the google car is no worse then a pair of eyes walking down the street or one of the millions of camera's around the place.

Exactly! And for everybody half-reasonable, this is the beginning and the end of the whole story about Google Street View "invading privacy".

Re:Examples? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29330163)

the google car is no worse then a pair of eyes walking down the street or one of the millions of camera's around the place.

Exactly! And for everybody half-reasonable, this is the beginning and the end of the whole story about Google Street View "invading privacy".

Right on. Because somebody walking down the street is the same as making lasting pictures and publishing on the internet. Your logic is flawless.

Re:Examples? (1)

turbotroll (1378271) | more than 4 years ago | (#29331671)

the google car is no worse then a pair of eyes walking down the street or one of the millions of camera's around the place.

Exactly! And for everybody half-reasonable, this is the beginning and the end of the whole story about Google Street View "invading privacy".

Right on. Because somebody walking down the street is the same as making lasting pictures and publishing on the internet.

Any ordinary citizen can do exactly the same thing -- take a picture of somebody making an ass of himself in public and make fun of him online later on. How is that exactly different?

The only practical difference I can see is that legally pursuing a corporation will bring you publicity, while taking Flickr user John Doe to court will not.

Japanese value privacy? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329545)

You gotta be kiddin !!

Japanese are one of the worst offenders of privacy

Re:Japanese value privacy? (1)

oheso (898435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329547)

As I said, some. And it's their own privacy they value, not yours. So there.

Re:Japanese value privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29330693)

So true, so true...just look up the word used for privacy in the Japanese language and you'll understand. Everybody is always trying to smell your ass while trying to keep their own clean...(yeah I live in Tokyo. The worst place for privacy in the world).

Re:Japanese value privacy? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29330383)

I got off the monorail in Japan today and encountered a man with a camcorder just recording us as we exited through the doors. No telling why he was using the video. I suppose it doesn't matter. There was a monorail camera right behind him recording the same thing.

Re:Japanese value privacy? (1)

gullevek (174152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29338337)

There are tons of train crazy people recording videos and shit in trains. I really stopped caring about that.

Re:Examples? (1)

turbotroll (1378271) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329663)

Please ... Japanese value their privacy. (Well, some do anyway.) If republication of the photos has led to bullying, should Google share in the responsibility?

Again, there is no such thing as privacy in a public place. Google Street View is a very cool and useful service and I can't stand mental midgets opposing it for their anal retentive reasons.

Re:Examples? (1)

californication (1145791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329923)

So you wouldn't mind the government putting cameras to be monitored 24/7 up and down your street, right?

Re:Examples? (3, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29330209)

Well, it would be a bit hard to complain about the camera if it takes one photo every few years or so and dumps them in with, what, billions of other images, meh, it wouldn't bother me at all. Of course to be fair, my street is not on google view although it is in the middle of numerous other streets that are. just one of those odd google street view quirks.

In quite little old Adelaide, SA, I have found people are more irritated by their address not being properly defined on street view and not being above to say email the google link as driving directions, rather than their property of themselves showing up on street view. Perhaps it is a personal space thing, in countries like Australia where there is a lot of personal space available are more comfortable to rather impersonal distant incursions and, people in Japan who are basically stacked one atop another with very little personal space are more reactive of incursions whilst seemingly are more willing to specifically intrude upon another person's space.

Of course one has to wonder how much google's competitors secretly motivate opposition to google's street because they lack a comparable service. When it comes to finding a place on a map, MSN search, Yahoo et all suck in comparison to being able to take a squiz ( http://www.ling.mq.edu.au/news/australian_style/v16_no1/word_column.htm [mq.edu.au] ) at a place and it's approaches before you get there, it certainly makes life easy and, I have to admit to being a bit of a google street view tourist.

Japan is different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29344029)

(Disclaimer: I haven't been to Japan)
          Japan is different though. It is pretty normal for people to have what would be considered here a porch or balcony, that just protrudes a bit into the side streets. This is technically public, but is in general considered private in actuality, that is, it's rude for people to even be looking at you while you are in this area, and certainly is improper to photograph. They've been having a REAL row with google street view over photographing these areas. Out in public? That's perhaps different -- but, Japan may have further cultural differences making that improper as well... in as dense an area as this, one way the Japanese avoid mayhem is a general social norm of respecting privacy, which Google is apparently not doing.

Re:Japan is different (1)

turbotroll (1378271) | more than 4 years ago | (#29350707)

This is very interesting and gives another dimension to the story. Indeed, cultural details should be taken into consideration before deploying such a service world wide.

Perhaps I shouldn't have called detractors of Google Street View "mental midgets", but I had heard much more stupid stories on this topic in the past, so therefore my reaction.

Re:Examples? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29331091)

The root of the problem is not privacy, it is discrimination, human rights problems and how Japanese unwilling to deal with it. Here we go again: Google Earth maps out discrimination against burakumin caste in Japan [timesonline.co.uk] .

This is 2005: UN Independent Investigator Raps Japan for Discrimination [voanews.com] . Quote: "An independent investigator from the U.N. Commission on Human Rights says he will report that discrimination in Japan is "deep and profound....Mr. Doudou Diene told reporters in Tokyo he found no strong political will to combat racism and discrimination. He also noted what he called a strong xenophobic drive among the Japanese public. This xenophobic drive is expressed by associating minorities, certain minorities, to crime, to violence, to dirt," he said....Mr. Diene said the worst discrimination appears to be the problems a Japanese social outcast group, KNOWN AS "BURAKUMIN" face with finding housing and employment. He called their condition "shocking and terrible," and said their plight would be included in his preliminary report.".

Another example: Racial Discrimination in Japan [americanchronicle.com] . Quote "Japan is not usually synonymous with racism in Western media, unlike Mississippi or Soweto, but its society is pretty racist nonetheless....Also, the Japanese landlords do not normally hang out a "For Rent" sign at an apartment building. They go to a "fudosan"- a real estate agency to help them find tenants. However, try and check out some signs near your local "fudosan"- you can usually see those that say: "NO ANIMALS, NO PROSTITUTES, NO FOREIGNERS." Lovely, isn't it?.";

and another: "JAPANESE ONLY" SIGNS IN MISAWA, JAPAN [debito.org] ;

and another: U.N. Urges Japan to Stop Discrimination against Korean School Children and Education [korea-np.co.jp] ;

and another: Japanese Discrimination Against Women [hrsolidarity.net] ;

and another: Housing Discrimination in Japan [japanprobe.com] ;

and another: Foreigners in Japan say openness all talk [davidappleyard.com] . Quote "I went to almost 25 real estate agents trying to get them to show me apartments," she recalled. "Finally, one of them took me aside and said, 'Japanese don't like to rent to foreigners. Many Japanese actually hate foreigners....Without a doubt, Japan is the most discriminatory place I have ever lived in";

Wikipedia: Ethnic issues in Japan [wikipedia.org]

Which makes me wonder, are non-Japanese allowed to buy Japanese products?

Re:Examples? (1)

jadin (65295) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334151)

If I remember correctly...

Japan has a history of treating people in 'dirty' jobs as contaminated people. So if you're a garbage collector, fisher-person etc and it's known, it significantly lowers your chances of getting into a college or a better job simply due to this discrimination. The people with 'dirty' jobs generally live in the same area (forced?). Therefore some of these people try to hide the fact that they live in the slums if you will. Google street view somehow was outing people who wanted to keep their residence a secret, and are now getting discriminated because of it.

I'm not Japanese but it must really suck to be subject to that kind of discrimination for such minor things that really should not matter. (from my high horse 1,000 miles away in a different culture)

Again, if I remember correctly.

Google never does anything wrong? (1)

HKcastaway (985110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334259)

Every time google is covering it ass because it has got caught out, it seems that most Slashdoters think it is perfectly fine. When ever any other company is caught doing something similar it gets roasted.

I understand that it gives us lots of email storage and a lots of nice services for free. Are we being fair and un-biased?

Opt out (4, Funny)

saskboy (600063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329441)

They could just opt out, as The Onion explains [theonion.com] how.

I may need to opt out, as I saw the Google Car south of Moose Jaw as I was driving by. At first I thought it was a car with a bike on top, but then I saw it was a big camera system. I was looking right at it too! And my face has never appeared on the Internet before (while I've been in my car). I'm gravely worried (but not really).

Re:Opt out (1)

boliboboli (1447659) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329521)

That was hilarious!

...branded with a whimsical 'G' on their forehead...

hahaha!

Re:Opt out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29329587)

Yep, I've seen the Google car twice in Regina now. A month or two apart, so they're spending a fair bit of time in the area, I guess.

Re:Opt out (1)

psychcf (1248680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29333879)

Hmm, what intersection were you at, and in what town/state? This, I have to see.

Help? (4, Interesting)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329451)

If I understand this correctly, Google (as the main, can we say unique?, search engine out there) will be filtering its service - a neutral search engine - to accommodate other products it owns (street view)?

Can Google be morally anything other than a search engine?

Re:Help? (2, Insightful)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329491)

Can Google be morally anything other than a search engine?

Now that's not a sentence you hear every day, care to explain what it means?

Re:Help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29329979)

Google actively enforces filtering in the form of DMCA take down requests and possible child pr0n sites. Filtering out private peoples' backyards at least protects those people and not the industry (DMCA point).

Re:Help? (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#29330009)

So among all the crappy and worthless sites out there (e.g http://www.google.com/search?q=ringtones [google.com] ), Google decides to banish those few that offend its mighty self by posting some amusing photos from its own product? If that is not evil it's getting pretty close.

Re:Help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29378853)

Remember that Google owns it's Street View photos, therefore it's hardly wrong for it to block sites which infringe on it's copyright*, particularly when those site are using those images to abuse or make fun of others.

*I accept that there may be a case for fair-use, though that needs to be judged on a case-by-case basis and depends on what Japanese law says about this. Still even if there is a fair-use case for the photos I would still support Google removing these site from it's searches unless the site is using the photos to highlight something that is genuinely in the public interest.

Re:Help? (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29330445)

you ask this now, years after they've started filtering results due to DMCA crap?

I guess I can see their point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29329541)

A teacher having a screen grab posted on a student's Myspace page showing him leaving the local porn shop with an overflowing shopping cart could be upsetting.

Re:I guess I can see their point (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29329661)

Not in Japan it wouldn't.

Interesting twist (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329917)

AFAIK, Google publishing pictures with people on without their permission for commercial gain is a breach of privacy laws in various countries (IANAL, so I may have this wrong), so it's putting the world upside down to help people going after the abuse Google themselves have enabled.

Sorry, no win.

Re:Interesting twist (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29330721)

They didn't create the problem any more than the yellow pages created a problem. Both services can and will be abused because there will always be someone who's going to be a tit about things.

Imo, they shouldn't have to do anything unless the site is performing an illegal action then the site should be removed from their search as any other illegal activity should.

Re:Interesting twist (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 4 years ago | (#29331947)

What Google has done is the equivalent of putting your name somewhere in Yellow Pages, but not telling you under which category. You won't find it unless you put a lot of effort in, so that's going to be a fun one to explain when you're under "Red Light district, men" and your boss finds it..

But this is actually minor stuff. Google have done something else that far out-creeps the non-masked faces. Did you notice Google Streetview specifically ENCOURAGES you to zoom in on people's windows? No? Try it, pick any street and move the mouse over the window - see what happens. WTF?

I would really, really, like to see how they explain that one away as protecting privacy.

Google should maybe, just maybe, start thinking a little bit less like an outsourced arm of the NSA, and consider that not every country has the same destructive attitude to privacy.

Re:Interesting twist (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29333637)

I assume you mean the square that appears when you mouse over certain areas. I think that is just mean to align with the side of the street for looking at that area. Some how it determines where to do that and sometimes that functionality picks a window. Just like sometimes the face blur misses someone's face but blurs a horse's face or a statue's face.

Street view isn't that bad. Certainly not as invasive as all the live web cams floating around on the net.

If anyone wants to commit a crime on your home it will be someone local who can keep an eye on your movements so they know exactly when you're not there or it'll be a local bum in need of a fix and picking your house because it's close and looks good.

The worst thing that can happen is you're a married man caught picking up a gay prostitute and your face isn't blurred or something similar.

Re:Interesting twist (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362881)

"I think that is just mean to align with the side of the street"

You may want to just spend 5 seconds trying it out, then you don't have to "assume" anything. You will see it pops up a magnifying glass. There is IMHO zero need for that. Nil. I cannot see anything positive coming from that.

It's not about "the worst thing that could happen", it's about "least impact on personal lives". I don't know where you live so this may come as a shock, but privacy is actually a fundamental human right:

Article 12
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

But it's Google. So that's alright then? Just because their marketing people are better at appearing even handed?

Nope..

Re:Interesting twist (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29370487)

You're also allowed to take pictures from public areas. The last thing we need are nazi parents deciding where we can take pictures because they're desperate to think their butt ugly child is pretty enough to be pedo bait.

I've yet to see any picture that shows the inside of someone's house in such a way that would be of any real use to anyone.

Also I think you want to have a dig at Google just because they're the best. Quite frankly they're not the only ones doing such things. Just because MS opt for a bird's view doesn't make it any better. It's still zooming in rather far and gives someone a better view of your property and renders your fence worthless. But hey, it's not popular, so that that doesn't matter.

Re:Interesting twist (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 4 years ago | (#29387465)

I love that "you're hitting Google because they're popular" - I think I heard that approach before, from Microsoft. Strange how those two have become so close in both monopoly and disregard, no, disrespect for their users. If MS allows you to zoom in then they need to be taken to task too.

Let me go back to my original statement, do some research before you speak. Read through the Google Terms of Service (clause 9 giveth, and 11 taketh most of it away), look at what the various privacy and data protection laws state and then form an opinion if Google isn't starting to go to the wrong side. Let me remind you that they make a substantial profit out of stalking you because they can place better focused ads. And to be fair, they're not the only ones mining your data, Facebook is at it too, but Google has placed itself so it has access to EVERYTHING you do - your email, your pictures, people you talk to - all I'm waiting for is a tapped version of Skype. Actually, why not give them an ECHELON and CARNIVORE feed too?

Google has an excellent opportunity in Switzerland to prove they can do it right - if they convince the Swiss the rest of Europe will be a walk in the park. But they sure as hell have to start.

Google has good products so they should not need to invade privacy, yet they do. Microsoft had the market and didn't need to fight dirty, yet it did, even with enthusiasm. A bit of self restraint would go a long way, yet that is wholly absent, instead you get, well, BS. Strange parallels..

Oh, for the record, I'm not paid by MS and I haven only recently heard they seem to be campaigning against Google. Well, I think they ought to clean their own yard first - and try to match the innovation Google has offered over the years. But that doesn't excuse Google.

I *want* Google to do things right because I would like to use those services too. But any doctor, for instance, using Google at present will violate HIPAA. Any attorney emailing to a Google address may be violating client privilege. Not good. That way the NSA will never get planet wide coverage. Tsk tsk.

Re:Interesting twist (1)

psiclops (1011105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29336761)

i'd possibly question why my boss was looking up the "Red Light district, men"

Nice Google (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29330133)

Help people solve the problem the service created. Now they just need to add a fee for it, and they may have a lucrative service.

For my part, I think the utility of the street view service is worth whatever minor embarrasment it causes for some people who got their picture taken when in public.

Google wasn't looking for them, they just happened to be there when Google was taking a picture of what was visible from the public street.

I don't see how Google can get to control the photo and "stop malicious use" once they've posted it; however.

First of all, they're basically driving down the road, continuously snapping automated pictures. This in effect means that the photographs are merely factual, not selected based on creative value; merely automatically included, meaning they have no novelty or aesthetic value causing their inclusion, therefore, excluding them from copyright...

Second of all, the people "maliciously using" said pictures can always screen cap and post images without linking it to Google. Google's "banning" of their site has absolutely zero effect on the frozen images so displayed.

And mirror them as widely as possible... I don't see there being much Google can legally do, that is, unless Google's willing to engage in dirty behavior and use certain malicious strong-arm tactics themselves, which might be illegal in themselves....

If you're having sex in public... (1)

KindredBrujah (1632011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29330423)

...then don't go crying to Google just because their van happened to drive past as you were doing it.

We all know who the real culprits are here.

Re:If you're having sex in public... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29332903)

Don't be a completely clueless fuckstick idiot. Way to make up a totally bullshit argument that has nothing to do with the article.

iie! (1, Funny)

JackSpratts (660957) | more than 4 years ago | (#29330611)

this from the country where the national sport is stealing shots of girls' underpants?

Re:iie! (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#29331257)

you forgot the game the little kids play, they run around and shove their finger up your ass

"malicious"? "illegal"? "abusers"? (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29333175)

Language like "malicious", "illegal", and "abusers" is ridiculous; these are photos taken in public places. If people can see inside your house from the street or you do anything embarrassing, be more careful next time, don't sue other people for your stupidity.

The Japanese should be particularly sensitive to the rights of photographers, given both their photo industry and how insanely much Japanese tourists snap pictures when they travel around the world.

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