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Street View On iOS Pierces German Privacy Veil

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-can-just-move dept.

Google 46

jfruhlinger writes "After some prickly negotiations with the German government's privacy regulators, Google got permission to launch its Street View service for German addresses, so long as people had the right to opt out and choose to have only a blurred version of their homes on the service. But it turns out that iPhone and iPad users can see those buildings after all."

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46 comments

You've got it all wrong! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145992)

Those aren't photos of your house! Google uses photos of houses from a Universe which is only fractionally different from ours. The terrain's totally the same there. The only difference is that 99% of the people use Linux except for an exclusive club of Microsoft users.

Re:You've got it all wrong! (1)

shikaisi (1816846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145998)

There's a lake of stew, and of whiskey too, You can paddle all around it in a big canoe, In the Big Rocky Candy Mountain.

Re:You've got it all wrong! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146036)

Those aren't photos of your house! Google uses photos of houses from a Universe which is only fractionally different from ours. The terrain's totally the same there. The only difference is that 99% of the people use Linux except for an exclusive club of Microsoft users.

If you could zoom in on the telly sets, you could probably grab a few scenes from the later episodes of firefly. Heck, if you could get the streetview guys to drive fast enough and if enough people were watching the show (windows open, presumably), you could probably watch an entire episode.

Re:You've got it all wrong! (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146054)

That is always my first thought on reading about a parallel universe. :P

Re:You've got it all wrong! (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146240)

Unfortunately, in the 4th season, the show kinda jumped the shark with that whole love triangle between Mal, Inara, and River....that's not even mentioning the introduction of that robotic dog, Quan, or when Kaylee turned out to be the one to design an interstellar drive, and they went to find aliens....really disappointing!

Re:You've got it all wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146302)

love triangle between Mal, Inara, and River

...mmmh...

Re:You've got it all wrong! (1)

yahwotqa (817672) | more than 3 years ago | (#34153096)

Shit, can you at least say "SPOILER ALERT"? I was just finishing with season 3. Thanks for nothing, asshole.

Re:You've got it all wrong! (1)

DavidRawling (864446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146092)

Actually this neatly explains the apparent inability of Google to actually delete the images (RTFA) as requested by the DPA. It seems to be one of those things where there are only two normal explanations - incompetence of the Google engineers to actually delete data, or deliberate ignoring of the request to delete. So which is it Google? Do you claim to be incompetent or do you think you're big enough to ignore Government? :)

Re:You've got it all wrong! (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146524)

Google does no evil, therefore it is the German government which is ill advised.

Re:You've got it all wrong! (2, Insightful)

wygit (696674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147634)

It didn't say they were supposed to be deleting the images, but de-rezzing them, which deletes data, as opposed to adding a filter on top of the images, which is apparently what they did.

I can see that... It's not like you can put the data back later if the German government changes its mind.

Re:You've got it all wrong! (2, Interesting)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147922)

Honestly, my first question is, is it Google or the German government ignoring the law here? I'm not entirely familiar with German law, granted, and it does have some oddities, but I'm not certain under what legal theory an "opt out" right could be created. If I took a photo of some friends on a public street in Germany and posted it on a website, with a home in the background, would the homeowner have the right under German law to demand I blur the home or take down the photo? And if they wouldn't, what's the difference here? I know in the US and most countries with similar legal structures, photos taken from a public street of the street-facing part of a building are not presumed to be a violation of the right to privacy, as anyone walking down that street can see it. What's the significant difference here?

Re:You've got it all wrong! (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34157706)

Actual post from Slashdoternate:

I predict this will be the year of the Windows desktop!

It was modded funny btw -- as is the cultural norm over on that side! ;)

We're idiots about privacy (5, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146068)

It appears that here in Germany, we don't care much whether our ISP is obliged to keep all our internet traffic on file for months, our web access can be arbitrarily and secretly limited, our radio organizations can demand listener fees from everyone with an internet connection and shit like ACTA can get dictated on us from the copyright mafia... ... but DON'T YOU DARE put a photo of my HOUSE on the INTERNET.

Thanks for the tea party, America; at least that way there are a few things left we can feel smugly superior about.

Re:We're idiots about privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146112)

It appears that here in Germany, we don't care much whether our ISP is obliged to keep all our internet traffic on file for months, our web access can be arbitrarily and secretly limited, our radio organizations can demand listener fees from everyone with an internet connection and shit like ACTA can get dictated on us from the copyright mafia... ... but DON'T YOU DARE put a photo of my HOUSE on the INTERNET.

Of course, strictly speaking, it IS better to at least not have a photo of your house on the Internet if all the other stuff remains the same. If you have a choice between two evils, at least choose the lesser.

Re:We're idiots about privacy (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146142)

It's about priorities though.

The BILD tabloid wouldn't dream of putting up a headline saying "Intellectual Property companies would like to spy on every citizen's internet access." Guess what they did report on in giant letters. :P

Re:We're idiots about privacy (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34149452)

It's BILD. Between their obvious bias, lack of research, failure to follow commonly accepted journalistic standards and all-around lack of professionalism they're often indistinguishable from satire magazines. I mean, this is the "newspaper" that tried to tell us that DSLAMs can upsample SD content to full-quality HD using "fiber glass refiners".

If anything, BILD reporting on $ENTITY doing something wrong is an indicator that $ENTITY is innocent and in fact isn't even directly involved at all. Of course this time they were apparently lucid enough to blame an involved party, which qualifies as high quality reporting for them.

Re:We're idiots about privacy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146284)

It appears that here in Germany, we don't care much whether our ISP is obliged to keep all our internet traffic on file for months

Remember how a German court declared this illegal?

Re:We're idiots about privacy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146388)

The craziest thing is that "panorama photography" has been explicitly allowed by law in Germany for ages and nobody seemed to have a problem with it. Now they're looking to severely restrict the right to take pictures in public space, because apparently now your private property extends to blurry images of your house facade. But I'm sure that when they pass Lex Google Street View, there will be a sweeping exemption for camera surveillance by government and business. Germans actually love being watched as long as it's their own Big Brother who watches them, not some American company.

Now I'm going out with my camera to help uncensor Street View. [mixxt.de]

Re:We're idiots about privacy (1)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34157730)

The craziest thing is that "panorama photography" has been explicitly allowed by law in Germany for ages and nobody seemed to have a problem with it. Now they're looking to severely restrict the right to take pictures in public space, because apparently now your private property extends to blurry images of your house facade...Germans actually love being watched as long as it's their own Big Brother who watches them, not some American company.

That's a cheap shot. What's happening is that their government (and some of their media) are distracting the German people from the real problem by making a big deal out of Google. Germany has very strict "data protection laws" ("Datenschutz") that are ostensibly meant to safeguard individual privacy. They don't: they only prevent individuals from finding out stuff—corporations and the government are not hampered a bit by these laws.

So Google is just a convenient whipping boy; the fact that they are foreigners, and most especially the fact that they are American, makes them an easy mark. We have plenty of big brothers watching us over here in the U.S. of A. That doesn't mean we "love" it.

Re:We're idiots about privacy (1)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146414)

It appears that here in Germany, we don't care much

That depends entirely on who you list in "we". If you dislike all those things, become a member of the Pirate Party and help change things. A lot of people here in Germany care, but like most of the western democracies, our politics has become a quagmire of lobbyism, stupidity and greed. It'll take some effort to change things, and that effort isn't whining on /.

Re:We're idiots about privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146468)

become a member of the Pirate Party

Already done! :P

Re:We're idiots about privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34147488)

"Thanks for the tea party, America"

Heh? What does your people and your government not having a backbone have to do with the US? I'd also bet a lot of those fees feed your own government and many EU companies as well--seems a lot of record labels are from Europe, who simply grew big because you wanted international equality for your music and when their signed bands got big in their US, they got rich.

Plus, as an EU nation, I thougth it was automatically recognized that everything you do when it comes to the internet is like the Swedes--fast and great. You're telling me that's NOT the case? That the US is ahead? Wow.

Misery loves company.

Google voluntarily pixels buildings (4, Informative)

Geheimagent (679949) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146102)

The streetview service is not illegal in Germany. Google voluntarily pixels houses if people living there demand it. They don't have to. Other services like sightwalk.de do it without for years.

Re:Google voluntarily pixels buildings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146164)

The streetview service is not illegal in Germany. Google voluntarily pixels houses if people living there demand it. They don't have to. Other services like sightwalk.de do it without for years.

Well actually that's a little unclear as Germany has some very strong privacy laws. Google doesn't do these things voluntarily to be nice, but to avoid an eventual much strong court order or a law from the legislation specifically enforcing this.

Re:Google voluntarily pixels buildings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146442)

That's not entirely clear. In the 90s, a German company systematically photographed house fronts and sold the cross-referenced pictures on CD. They were sued and lost.

In Soviet Germany, Spy Cars Spy on You !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146120)

Wait. Wait. Wait.

Well, original slashdot effect this time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146126)

It seems Google "removed" some of the images and replaced them with a black background and the message:

This image is under review and will be available soon.

we have no secrets, just rumors of someone else's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146132)

just as well, as 99.999% of us have lives that cause relatively little/no damage, & the other 00.001% are simply victims of unfoundead 'conspiracy' notions. therefore, the real damage that's being done is just in our 'imaginations'? FUDge on. may as well take pictures of what we still have, so we'll have stuff to look at/remember. like what was real, as opposed to what never was?

Feature testing? (1)

geogob (569250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146158)

Maybe I didn't look long enough, but from what I can tell, the streetview coverage in Germany at this time is close to nil. Only a small part of a small village which, oh surprise, has a "blacked out house" is present. To me, this seems like either a function test for the feature or a demonstration on how the feature could work to the interested people. Either way, this would also explain the lapse in mobile versions of google maps.

Or did they already rollback on streetview release for Germany after enabling it and then realizing the mistake?

don't feed the German government trolls (2, Informative)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146186)

The German government may pretend that hiding images of buildings and people visible from public streets is "privacy" but it's merely privacy theater.

Germany's government has one of the wost records on privacy among European nations, pushing for data retention, registration of religions beliefs with the government, extensive electronic government surveillance, even aerial photography of people's backyards.

So, don't feed the German government trolls: don't call this restriction of photography "privacy".

I am not a missing link !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146210)

Believe it or not !!

Why do Germans expect special treatment? (-1, Troll)

Froggels (1724218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146400)

I don't see why Germans feel that they should have to get their knickers in such a twist over such a trivial issue.. After all Google is an American company and should be able to keep its own information on its own servers in its own country. So what if a bunch of Yanks decide they want to take pictures of Germany then store those pictures on their own computers back home? Tourists have been taking pictures for years and this type of thing has never been an issue.. If Google chooses to host content on its own servers then they technically haven't even posted any content "on the Internet". Safe harbour laws are nothing but a load of shite. Who the fuck do these God damn Europeeon wussies think they are telling us what to do?

Re:Why do Germans expect special treatment? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146582)

If Google wanted to get the issue more attention, it could have blocked the entire service for the entire country. One of two things would happen ... people would protest their government and ask that the service be reinstated through a change in laws or an exemption ... or a Google competitor would provide the services with the blurring feature. I'm guessing the changes of the second happening were too high. The blurring is a relatively easy thing for them to implement, but sometimes it's nice to force an issue more into the public eye to make people think about it a bit more.

Re:Why do Germans expect special treatment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146754)

Except perhaps that public opinion in Germany is against Google in this regard.
People want an ability to opt out of such a service. Quite in the same sense as
people opt out of the phone book.

Phone numbers are public information, still you can tell corporations that you
don't want them to publish them.

If they blocked this service right now, chances are, people wouldn't protest
exactly for it.

Re:Why do Germans expect special treatment? (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147414)

The argument seems coherent until we discover phone numbers are not exactly public information that everyone and their dog can see while strolling about on public streets.

Imagine you painted your phone number in big letters over the street-facing side of your house and THEN demand everyone leave out the number from their photos.

Ridiculous.

But most of my fellow Germans are currently riding the hardcore eco-socialist wave and technological innovations don't exactly fall on fertile ground right now in this country. A few more of these "get-off-my-lawn" follies and we've successfully reduced this once-great country to a ecologically superior open-air museum of life in the good old days. If critics of this neo-luddite craze are publicly asking in editorials if automobile and plane, where they invented today, would have a chance of NOT being verboten instantly. Only to receive angry letters that planes and automobiles ought to be made illegal as soon as possible...

Re:Why do Germans expect special treatment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34148124)

And if everyone and their pet could see this information if they walked
by, so what?

My supposed dog is not a corporation doing systematic surveillance
of virtually all of our country. The point being systematic.

The lawmaker as well as public opinion came to the opinion that this
ought to at least be regulated. Which is not really surprising,
we _are_ in germany after all. This wouldn't feel like home if there
were stuff that is unregulated, would it?

Regarding the rant at the end of your post,

You know, there were protests against automobiles back in the day.
Scares horses and kids. Stinks. Is loud, too fast.
The germany of today is pancakes compared to the imperial
germany that saw the introduction of motorcars and airplanes.
I mean, they introduced regulation for church bell ringing.

This place (even more than today) was like one big allotment
gardening complex.

Still, as today, the industry managed to produce innovative
products (that you allege not to have a chance today).

Re:Why do Germans expect special treatment? (1)

Synonymous Homonym (1901660) | more than 3 years ago | (#34152732)

a Google competitor would provide the services with the blurring feature

Actually, a German company provides a kind of street view without blurring whatsoever, and has a playground search engine too, and people apparently like it.
But when Google does it, it is somehow violation of privacy.

Re:Why do Germans expect special treatment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34148246)

God let this be a troll.
You are one of the reasons the world laughs about the US. Are your parents siblings?
An American company still has to abide German law if they drive around in Germany and take pictures.
You know that US-Law is not the law outside the US?
I had the house i'm living in be blurred out of street view.
Why? Because when anybody wants to find out that my Landlord still has the X-Mas decoration on the porch in February, they have to come here.

Amateurs (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146950)

This only happens if you really do not understand your own application. In addition, anybody with at least a bit security knowledge would have blurred in the source material, thereby making this screwup impossible.

Seems the times were Google was a technology leader are over.

Re:Amateurs (3, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147064)

And what happens when the house's new owners want it unblurred? Google has to send out a new truck because their only copy of the existing picture is blurry?

I think Google operates under the memo "Never delete anything without a court order." They're required to blur the images they display, not their source material they store internally, so they didn't.

Re:Amateurs (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34148898)

Well, they would of course keep the unblurred material at some not publicly accessible place, but the point is that blurring would be done directly on the images used for the service, instead of added dynamically. That way, something would be blurred either everywhere or nowhere.

Re:Amateurs (1)

kju (327) | more than 3 years ago | (#34149244)

And what happens when the house's new owners want it unblurred? Google has to send out a new truck because their only copy of the existing picture is blurry?

Yes, they would have to. Google has already announced that the blur will be made permanent and no unblurred data will be kept. The current malfunctioning way is just a stop-gap measure.

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