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Google Street View Raises Privacy Concerns

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the we-see-everybody-now dept.

Privacy 520

Pcol writes "The New York Times is running a story about a woman who says her cat is clearly visible through the living room window of her second-floor apartment using Street View and that she has contacted Google asking that the photo be removed. 'The issue that I have ultimately is about where you draw the line between taking public photos and zooming in on people's lives,' Ms. Kalin-Casey said in an interview. 'The next step might be seeing books on my shelf. If the government was doing this, people would be outraged.' Wired has started a contest on the most interesting photos found using the new Google Tool that now includes sunbathing coeds, alleged drug deals, and the google van itself. 'I think that this product illustrates a tension between our First Amendment right to document public spaces around us, and the privacy interests people have as they go about their day,' says Kevin Bankston, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation."

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Easy solution: (0, Offtopic)

someguyfromdenmark (910971) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350213)

Ban Windows!

"Coeds"? (5, Interesting)

jon_anderson_ca (705052) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350753)

Offtopic, I know, but "sunbathing coeds"? As in "sunbathing students of both genders" or as in "sunbathing women"? Why do we refer to women like they're anomalies at academic institutions?

At my school, we have something like 60% women... should we call men "co-eds"?

Go ahead, mod me down as offtopic, but this kind of thing irks me.

not just her cat (5, Insightful)

miowpurr (1004277) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350239)

By protesting that much about a photo, she now has her name and address (not just her cat) blasted all over the web. If she had said nothing, possibly it would have all blown over.

Re:not just her cat (1, Troll)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350251)

Not to mention willingly posing for another photo that winds up printed in the New York Times...

Well that's perfectly reasonable (4, Insightful)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350263)

fte all, she`s not objecting to people taking her picture, she'`s objecting to people taking her picture inside her house, without her consent, which is the definition of an invasion of privacy.

No it isn't. (5, Insightful)

sglider (648795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350297)

It were perfectly reasonable if Google were on her property when the photos were taken (they weren't).

It'd be perfectly reasonable if her blinds were closed (which would lend credence to them 'invading' her privacy)

But it isn't even remotely reasonable because she keeps her blinds open! If you don't want someone to take pictures of you, or see you doing the nasty, or anything else inside your house, close your blinds, otherwise you have no expectation of privacy, either from the government, or from your fellow citizens.

Re:No it isn't. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19350355)

no expectation of privacy

Those words do not mean what you think they mean, and hundreds of years of peeping-tom and stalking laws back me up on this.

What I would do... (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350389)

Is rent such space in my house for advertising... do you imagine how much would V1Agr4 companies would pay for such a position?
Alternatively, print an 2A0 goatse picture and hang it over there... you can bet google wont like to zoom-in over there.

Re:What I would do... (1)

rikkards (98006) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350803)

Alternatively, print an 2A0 goatse picture and hang it over there... you can bet google wont like to zoom-in over there.
But I am sure the police will like it (something about obscenity laws).

Re:No it isn't. (5, Insightful)

bigmouth_strikes (224629) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350467)

> But it isn't even remotely reasonable because she keeps her blinds open!

No, no, no. You can't be expected to be living out of a dungeon (or in your parents' basement if that sounds more familiar for /.ers) in order to not have people documenting your personal life. People outside may and should also be expected to see some of what goes on inside your house if you have an easily accessible window, but documenting what goes on in there and furthermore making it available to others, is not OK.

Interestingly enough, this sort of thing makes "regular" people the victim of what celebrities have had to endure increasingly for a long time. I'm sure there are many readers of tabloids enjoying the latest mega-zoom-lens pictures of Jennifer Aniston eating her bagel in bed, whilst complaining that the Google-van is invading the oh-so sacred privacy when taking pics from the streets.

Re:No it isn't. (3, Insightful)

Politburo (640618) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350629)

This isn't "documenting your personal life". It's one snapshot.

Re:No it isn't. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350525)

If you don't want someone to take pictures of you, or see you doing the nasty, or anything else inside your house, close your blinds, otherwise you have no expectation of privacy, either from the government, or from your fellow citizens.

Did you know that police in the UK have recently taken to asking people to spy on their neighbours? One of the main warning signs of someone growing drugs illegally is apparently that they always keep their curtains drawn/blinds closed. So sorry, but if you do that, you're obviously a drug dealer and will be reported accordingly. Then the police will come and arrest you on suspicion, take you down to the police station, hold you without charge for a while, and forcibly collect a sample of your DNA to be added to the largest DNA database in the world (and to be left there even after your release, since the current administration removed the legal requirement to destroy such samples if nothing came of the arrest).

See, the thing is, I have different expectations. I expect a little common courtesy from my fellow citizens, to be considered innocent until proven guilty by my government, and to be left alone by businesses I don't wish to deal with. I don't go around looking through all my neighbours' windows and recording what I see. I don't go around arresting policemen in the street because I suspect that they're going to abuse the increasing range of summary powers they are being given. I don't have time to spy on all the executives and shareholders of my local supermarket looking for those extra gifts for ladies they buy when I know their wife just bought one last week anyway. What happened to doing unto others as you would have done unto you, representative government, respect for the privacy of others, and a general sense of common decency? Is expecting these things really so unreasonable or unusual, or is your comment just a sign of how low our standards have dropped?

Re:Well that's perfectly reasonable (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350403)

Yep. As has been noted before, there is a big difference between a one-off observation of something anyone can see in a public place, and the systematic collection and reuse of data. There is also a big difference between what you can see in a public place, and what you can see from a public place using invasive surveillance technology to observe something that would normally be regarded as private. Similar issues arise with everything from store loyalty cards to CCTV to the UK government's proposed ID cards and National Identity Register database.

The bottom line is that privacy isn't dead, but it's in a coma. If the people value privacy — as IME almost everyone does when you ask non-loaded questions — then governments should wake it up, by enacting laws strongly restricting the collection of personal data and the invasion of people's privacy, which must apply to every person, business, government body or other organisation.

Of course, this doesn't go down with businesses who are making a lot more money by being able to track and analyse consumers. "Privacy is dead," they tell us. "It's not your data, it's data about you," they protest.

So the question is, are we going to be a world of free citizens with private lives, or are we going to be a world of consumers who are worth only as much as the latest statistical analysis predicted we would spend this week?

Re:Well that's perfectly reasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19350801)

So the question is, are we going to be a world of free citizens with private lives, or are we going to be a world of consumers who are worth only as much as the latest statistical analysis predicted we would spend this week?

Relax. Do what I do: remind yourself that the more dystopian the world becomes, the greater the chance of some badass grassroots Bubblegum Crisis shit.

All those gray years spent doing stack traces on database code for banks suddenly don't seem so wasted when you get root access to Shinra's datacenter.

Re:Well that's perfectly reasonable (1)

Spookticus (985296) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350625)

Is not that what the paparazzi do?

Re:Well that's perfectly reasonable (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350827)

Thats a pretty strong misrepresentation...Google didn't drive their van through her house. Everything you can see in the picture would have been just as visible if you were walking down the street and happened to look up.

Generally, if you can take a picture of it while standing on your own land, or on public land, then it's legitimate. People are generally understood to not have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" if they can be seen doing what they're doing from a public street.

Ask her cat (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19350323)

I reckon, even if the cat could speak, it doesn't give a shit about being looked at.

If she has problems with people being able to look through her window, get a net curtain. Cats can work out that they can see the outside better if they go behind the net curtain, so the cat's view won't be spoiled.

Re:not just her cat (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350329)

Yes she's given up even more privacy, but she is probably thinking it's a worthwhile loss. Imagine if anyone in the world could view the activities of your home through Google -- at that point, it's worth giving up your identity in the hopes of fighting for a restriction on this kind of invasion.

Do you really think this service would keep its legs if it was run by Peeping Tom across the street? Of course not! So why should Google retain a right that wouldn't be granted to our good friend Tom?

Re:not just her cat (2, Insightful)

qazsedcft (911254) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350387)

It's not about the picture, or the cat. It's about the f***ing principle. You shouldn't have to close your blinds and turn down the lights anytime you're home just to expect a little privacy. This kind of trend is troubling and insane, and it has to stop. I remember the first time I saw Big Brother on TV and my first impression was "OMG! This is going to catch on. There goes ALL our privacy". Others thought I was freaking out. Well, a few years later and what do you know? You can't even expect to leave your blinds open and not be seen by anyone anywhere in the world.

Re:not just her cat (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350553)

She chose to have her name and address blasted all over the internet. She didn't choose whether or not her cat should be photographed by an anonymous van filled with cameras.

Re:not just her cat (4, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350575)

By protesting that much about a photo, she now has her name and address (not just her cat) blasted all over the web. If she had said nothing, possibly it would have all blown over.
Like those dumb guys in Boston who threw all that tea into the water instead of paying a few lousy pennies of tax. C'mon, guys, quit rocking the boat before you annoy King George.

Re:not just her cat (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350577)

That's no cat!

Re:not just her cat (1)

Aliriza (1094599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350737)

Same here it is the same view that everyone walking on the street can see.Then we should ban the video cameras etc so that no image is captured.

Re:not just her cat (2, Interesting)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350797)

Y'know, despite all the outcry regarding privacy and being seen in windows, it hasn't been brought up so far so I figure I may as well play Captain Obvious.

I found Street View to be useful. I live in New Jersey suburbs, close enough to go to NYC on occassion, but I don't live or work there. It gets awfully confusing trying to find my way through there. Map websites helped with this. Hybrid view in Googlemaps helped more since now I can distinguish areas by large patches of color in a top-down view.

Now with Street View, I know exactly what each corner looks like so I'll be able to recognize that turn when it comes up.

This is how Street View is meant to be used, and it has succeeded in being useful to me. I'm just saying, though this lady's cat has been seen in a window, the public now has gained a useful tool in navigating the streets.

Which outweighs the other? I don't know. I understand her position. I just know that I appreciate the added utility and I would be saddened to lose it. I would love it if the van could come through my neighborhood and outlying areas as well.

I'd complain too (3, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350249)

if everyone could see my pussy through a window on the internet.

I'm so sorry, I just couldn't resist it...

Re:I'd complain too (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350687)

Pussy? Sure thing, "Rik".

Privacy (0, Troll)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350255)

If you have nothing to hide, who cares? If you have something to hide, close the drapes.

Then again, I'm Canadian, so what do I know?

Re:Privacy (1)

QBasicer (781745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350349)

I totally agree. I'm not sure why she's making such a fuss, I mean, anybody could look into her window, and anybody could have taken a picture, so why does it matter?

She shouldn't bitch about things that any person on the street could see, but then again, it is called "street view" isn't it?

BTW, I'm Canadian Too.

Re:Privacy (5, Insightful)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350509)

If you have nothing to hide, who cares?

That's almost precisely the same line the Bush administration used to justify residential wiretapping. You're playing with fire there. People should have the right to privacy in their own homes. I say it's okay for Google to photograph a house's exterior, but not the interior.

Re:Privacy (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350657)

Not insightful, as they are completely different situations. With windows, you can close the blinds. With wiretapping, you cannot choose to not be tapped.

Re:Privacy (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350785)

Not insightful, as they are completely different situations. With windows, you can close the blinds. With wiretapping, you cannot choose to not be tapped.

You could choose not to use unsecured phone lines. Nobody's stopping you from doing all your communication through encrypted email.

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19350789)

With wiretapping you can refuse to talk on the phone, or buy prepaid wireless phones.

How's tapping your landline coming into your house, or the cell phone that is registered in your name, any different than some taking pictures through a window in this matter?

100% dead on (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350793)

the attitudes in the posts here reveal the prejudices and stereotypes of the usual slashbot

namely:

1. government baaad

2. google gooood

i was just reading the comments under the story about anti-forensic disk tools [slashdot.org] and the level of paranoia about a hypothetical situation involving disk access by the government was everywhere. and all around was an evisceration of the 'if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide' attitude

and then, bam, you turn around and read this story, and 'if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide' is a synopsis of the attitude of a lot the posters!

dear slashbots: your prejudices are showing. what you need to do is pick an ideological position on privacy, and apply it equally to google and the government. because when you use a double standard on privacy in regards to a darling internet company versus the bad ol usa government, you are revealing some pretty flimsy stereotypes and prejudices on your part

in fact, you could make the case for worrying about google more than the government. given the legal bonds that tie the hands of the government, usually populated by incompetent bureaucrats, as opposed to what the highly competitive cutthroat corporate business environment might drive its employees who are caltech and MIT and stanford PhDs in their field to do, i might worry a whole HELL of a lot more about what google is doing with my privacy than the usa

one would hope some of you would aspire to be a little less transparent and hypocritical and shallow and see-through in your beliefs. on the issue of privacy, you better upgrade your attitude of the us government to that of your attitude towards google, or downgrade your attitude of google to match your attitude towards the us government. but overly excusing google and overly indemnifying the us government is not an intellectually or morally coherent position for many of you

Re:Privacy (3, Informative)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350809)

But that's precisely the problem here: her interior is visible from the exterior.

To put it in perspective, my family has a home at the beach. My mom bought a large picturesque window for the front so they could look at the beach. It also happens to be by the TV. So, anytime people are watching the TV inside, people outside can look in.

My mom complains about this all the time. "It's late at night. People are relaxing while watching TV. Why do they have to look in?" My response is always the same: "Why did you put the window up?"

People have a right to privacy, but if they're "flaunting" their interior with windows and no curtains, how far does Google have to go to ensure their privacy? Same thing with my family's home. It's a nice house. Should we be up in arms when passersby take pictures of it? Should we freak out that they're potentially taking pictures of us watching TV?

The answer, like most things in life, is simple: put up curtains.

so the REAL question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19350265)

Where's Waldo?

Old news... (5, Interesting)

BubFranklin (978317) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350271)

Many other companies have been doing this for realestate industry for years...

Also, copyright law states (IANAL) that you can take pictures of people in their homes from the street. Only no zooming, and with (I think) a 55mm lens at best. Look up the case law. The only think I think that may be challenged in court is if high res photos at 55mm constitutes some kind of new zoom...

Re:Old news... (1)

cabinetsoft (923481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350365)

Also, copyright law states (IANAL) that you can take pictures of people in their homes from the street. Only no zooming, and with (I think) a 55mm lens at best.
I really don't understand the part with the 55mm lens... where a 55mm lens on a 36mm frame is something like normal view, on medium format it becomes a wide lens and on a point and shoot with a tiny image sensor it becomes a tele...

Re:Old news... (4, Informative)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350463)

It's called a "normal lens" [wikipedia.org] . On a 35mm camera, a 50 to 55mm lens gives a perspective that is equivalent to the view with the unaided eye.

Re:Old news... (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350455)

You can "zoom" in pretty close with Google Street, even if no zoom lens was used while taking the picture. Is zoom really an issue anymore with 20 megapixel cameras?

Re:Old news... (1)

antiaktiv (848995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350501)

A 55 mm lens with a small format camera could be very long. I seriously doubt they put mm widths in such a law.

Re:Old news... (1)

Jonner (189691) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350511)

Are the photos for the "realestate industry" of random houses, or specific properties?
I doubt there are details that specific in any copyright law, but this is about privacy, which is a separate issue. Even if there are no laws that specifically prohibit this, it's forboding.

Overreaction? (2, Insightful)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350273)

Who cares if I can see your cat or not? If it doesn't matter if I'm walking past your house and see it then why on Earth does it matter if I can see it using my PC? I think the reaction is OTT and irrational. And in regards to the "books on shelves" part - I wouldn't care if they knew what books I was reading. If I did have a book I shouldn't have (whatever that book might be) I would take teh effort to prevent the Government from finding out.

Re:Overreaction? (1)

robably (1044462) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350523)

If it doesn't matter if I'm walking past your house and see it then why on Earth does it matter if I can see it using my PC?
They're different things. Taking a photograph through someone's window isn't the same as glimpsing what can be seen through it as you walk past; it is more akin to standing outside the house and staring in, and inviting hundreds of other people to come and stare through the window, and the person inside only finding out they have been under observation afterwards. It will make many people, especially women, feel violated.

"Best Urban Images" (5, Informative)

doubleofive (982704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350281)

The Wired blog mentioned in the article has some really good pictures on it:

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/05/request_f or_urb.html [wired.com]

Re:"Best Urban Images" (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350357)

Or would, if it hadn't been slashdotted. It's been loading for a few minutes now... :/

Google Maps and the Government (1)

l0rd.47hl0n (1099499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350283)

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Ms. Kalin-Casey, but our can-do-no-wrong government has been taking photographs such as these (this is my unclassified answer) for quite some time now. You should get used to it, as satellites are already in orbit and being tested that use terahertz wavelengths to see inside our homes, not merely you cute and cuddly kitty . . . but you didn't hear it from me.

But... if you can see it from the street,... (4, Insightful)

HawkinsD (267367) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350287)

I am wrestling with this. If you can see me, from the street, from a car, for God's sake, then how much expectation of privacy do I really have?

I'm not sure I understand the objections. If I go to a strip club, and I am seen leaving it, well, then, I was a douchebag for not being sneakier about it, if I don't want anybody to know.

Is the problem that the photos are being published on a widely-used web page?

Re:But... if you can see it from the street,... (1)

Jonner (189691) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350549)

Yes, I think it is a potential threat to privacy that these photos are available on a public web site. Not only can anyone anywhere see it any time, but they can do so without the person being viewed being able to know who sees it. I'm not sure what the standards or restrictions should be, but I do think this type of service changes the situation signifcantly.

Re:But... if you can see it from the street,... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350621)

What happened to "Just because you can do something, that doesn't mean you should"?

By the kind of argument you (and, to be fair, many others in this discussion) make, we should just ignore all laws and societal conventions, and be mercenary about doing anything that advances our personal interests. If you are disadvantaged when someone else does this, well, you should have defended yourself better, taken out more insurance, hidden away more, not gone out, paid in cash, not walked past the front of the adult movie store and coincidentally looked over your shoulder just when the photo was taken, not bought three items on the same day which in combination coincidentally trigger a terrorist threat warning...

So, where do we draw the line?

Exactly two things have changed today, in the context of privacy, from a few years ago: technology has improved to make it much easier to spy on people and data mine info about them; and people (actually, mainly businesses and governments) have become almost militant in their desire to capture as much information as possible about everyone, all the time. This is a very dangerous combination, which if left unchecked will inevitably lead to the erosion and ultimately the destruction of our basic quality of life. Just because we can do something, that really doesn't mean we should.

i could've told you what kind of cat she has... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19350299)

the pictures show what anyone driving down the street would see. there aren't any privacy concerns because the pictures don't contain anything private- i know this may come as a shock to the mental midget in TFA, but glass is transparent.

this is only news-worthy because it has a couple buzzwords like "google" and "privacy concerns". meanwhile, the people who are actually tapping your phone/internet traffic/watching you continue to perpetrate *horrendous* privacy violations, and nobody cares because of watered-down crap like this. if we're going to be morally outraged by something, let's pick something actually scandalous, m'kay?

Government. (1)

Rufty (37223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350301)

Who says the government would tell us it is doing this?

Personally (4, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350315)

I'm rather amazed at how well this actually works....a friend of mine is from Miami. He looked up one of the more destitute areas in the city and sure enough there it was.

We were dying laughing for nearly 10 minutes thinking about a big google van driving through the slums and taking panoramic photos.

Christ we are geeks.

Don't think she has a case... (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350319)

If it's visible from the street, it's public domain. If she has a problem with this, she can invest in some curtains.

Re:Don't think she has a case... (1)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350377)

How do you feel about public cameras on every street corner? Hey, it's public domain..

Re:Don't think she has a case... (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350431)

I'm fine with it...assuming that everyone enjoys equal access to the stored images.

Re:MOD PARENT UP (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350619)

The equal access rights for public info is an important thing in privacy issues.

Re:Don't think she has a case... (2, Insightful)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350661)

Great advice: let's just shield our lives so that pictures cannot be taken and distributed to millions on the Internet. I'm certain that, to all those defending Google and the idea of "public domain", if those pictures were of their living space they would be up-in-arms the same way this woman is.

By living on that street she has consented (implicitly) to giving up privacy for the sake of location and convenience. She has consented (implicitly) to privacy loss by keeping the windows open. She has also consented (implicitly) to privacy loss from pedestrians being able to view her apartment. But she has not consented to detailed images of her living space available to millions on the Internet. There is a mountain of difference between hundreds of pedestrians walking by and glancing in, and the collective eyes of the Internet being able crawl over every pixel of her pictures.

Re:Don't think she has a case... (1)

BHearsum (325814) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350713)

I think things change when it's done on such a mass scale.

At least, they should change.

It's called a curtain... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350333)

Duh!

Google is the new Microsoft (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19350335)

In the '80s, Microsoft was the geek hero, fighting against the big bad IBM. Today, Google takes Microsoft's place, and it's hero in the minds of the current generation of geek.

The main difference is that Microsoft always spoke of itself as a profit-making business. Google pretends to be something "better".

Yes, give it a decade, and of course people will hate Google as much as they hated Microsoft, and it will behave as abusively as Microsoft did during its heyday 5-10 years ago. But I don't want to enjoy the monopolisation of various Internet features, and the other fallout, that comes of its steamrolling in the meanwhile.

What happened to the entrepreneurs like Hewlett, Packard and Olsen, who actually built amazing new stuff to become world leaders? Google haven't done nothing, but the evolutionary step they made to put them where they are even pales in comparison to what Microsoft did for the PC.

O M G (1)

Baljet (547995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350341)

I have realised this merely highlights a far greater lapse in privacy!

Anyone passing in the street can see in her window too!

Just buy some net curtains love.

So is what's the difference? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350345)

Is there a difference between being seen, and having your photograph taken by someone you can't possibly identify as a photographer, and have the photograph stored in perpetuity and sent to everyone in the world?

Not sure I see it myself.

Bad time to be leavin' the strip club (2, Funny)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350353)

I hope his wife isn't checking out this [google.com] Google Street View.

Re:Bad time to be leavin' the strip club (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350637)

I hope his wife isn't checking out this [google.com] Google Street View.
If you zoom in on the window sign, you can see that half of it is blacked out (presumably to hide the boobies). Obviously, Google has been removing "adult content" from their pictures, so they can remove private content if they want to.
I'm sure the guy there might have appreciated another black rectangle in that picture, over his eyes, for example.

Re:Bad time to be leavin' the strip club (1)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350813)

Or perhaps over the clearly readable license plate on the car parked right in front of the place.

Re:Bad time to be leavin' the strip club (1)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350817)

If you zoom in on the window sign, you can see that half of it is blacked out (presumably to hide the boobies). Obviously, Google has been removing "adult content" from their pictures, so they can remove private content if they want to.
Google also removed a shot of police arresting someone. However, I'm sure they don't want to start removing every picture of a person's house who doesn't want it on Google.

I'm sure the guy there might have appreciated another black rectangle in that picture, over his eyes, for example.
No doubt. Notice that he's feeding the meter, apparently preparing to go back for more.

And they missed the obvious moral high ground.. (1, Flamebait)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350363)

After all of their vaunted 'do no evil' slogan.. with all of the developement power they have, they didn't consider using image processing software to outline the drawing using the scenes natural colors, they didn't consider using a blur, they didn't consider making a very public statement about how they would use the technlogies and discard the true images...

they had here a perfect chance to lead the way in mapping and instead just became Britain^2. Way to go guys, way to lead the future.

Re:And they missed the obvious moral high ground.. (4, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350717)

Overly dramatic much? There is more than a small difference between having a static street level view of an area and having constantly monitored live camera's following your every move.

Re:And they missed the obvious moral high ground.. (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350825)

Actually, No, when they open up Google Cam(eo - if you want to make a cute name of it) why should they do less then they did here? There are precedents being set, and Google didn't appear to decide on one that supports privacy... in the future.

I personally know people running companies using video technology that could do live casts like this, and when the time comes, will they have an example to follow?

This is one of many fulcum moments, squandered. That's my point, and not one wholy devoid of good sense.

check local laws (2, Informative)

amigabill (146897) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350375)

I live in what has been at times a sketchy neighborhood, and I've talked to the police about putting up a private security camera. Cars have been vandalized, graffiti on sidewalks and buildings, but supposedly the drug house up the road is cleaned up. Not sure if it's state or county law, but I can't point a camera at someone else's private property. I can point it at my property, and I can point it at public property. I cannot record sound, only video.

Check the laws about this sort of thing where you live. If you find a picture going inside your home, you may be able to go after them.

Ties (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350379)

If the government was doing this, people would be outraged
With Google's ties to the CIA and one of the federal government's foremost AI research center, NASA Ames, is there any difference?

I find the 360/zoom gimmicky -- I found the old A9 maps much more useful. I was able to use A9 maps to select a neighborhood when I was changing cities -- just simple static streetscape photos like a normal person would take. And A9 had a lot more coverage.

Street View will be forced to remove images . . . (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350401)

. . . the first time they catch a politician's cavorting with his mistress (or, more likely, his car parked at her place). Until then, I predict a smattering of divorce cases where these shots are presented as evidence, as well as the occasional naked fat guy caught standing in front of his picture window drinking out of the milk carton. Please, Google, technologize responsibly! ;-)

Re:They already doing it. (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350697)

Check out this place [google.com]

Here is the description that can be found in wired article:

The 5-0 seem to have detained this guy and are possibly readying to put him in the trunk for transport. Via LaudenTech

Invasion of your given away privacy (2, Interesting)

packetmon (977047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350417)

a woman who says her cat is clearly visible through the living room window of her second-floor apartment using Street View Funny... I wonder how come no one complains when the DoT, DoJ and other stupidly acronymed agencies throw cameras on every street corner... Out of sight out of mind for some. No one outside of spectators (those who don't actually see through the camera's lens) knows what these cameras see or record yet they assume based on naive premise "the government would never..." Sure the gov would never, that doesn't mean there couldn't possibly be a pedophile or peeping tom working for the government and seeing into one's private life 24/7.

I wish there could be like true blue public forum based discussions on these matters so people can get a true perspective of reality before wanting their 15 minutes of fame. Would I be mad if Google passed me by on the street while I was scratching my crotch... No. Would I be upset if they filmed my cat? No. Home? No. Would I be mad if it was constant (so called antiterrorism foobar cams)... Yes.

Real concern (1)

Mystery00 (1100379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350423)

Being concerned over a cat is obviously ridiculous, but the fact that you could see the cat through the window does raise some concern. What if it was some really hot, nude...ok bad example, what if it was you in that window, doing something you don't want anyone to see, and without your consent gets spread throughout the net.

The chances of this happening at the moment are small, but what happens when ever street you know gets a "live-view"? It seems far fetched now, but there are already cameras with live-feeds overlooking certain places in the world.

Although it is also a nice thought that you can see any view from any place on earth (well, not yet) without being there, virtual travel is nothing new.

What it comes down to is are you willing to give up some portion of your privacy for the sake of bringing the world to the computer in all it's glory, or lack thereof.

Re:Real concern (1)

Lumbergh (1053438) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350723)

See, this is bogus. If it was me in that window, dowing something I didn't want anyone to see, I'd have shut my blinds. Problem solved.

Even more interesting than seeing a Cat (3, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350425)

The Battery Tunnel in NYC is clearly seen throughout in street view. Its been illegal since 9/11 to take any photos in or on any of the bridges and tunnels of NYC.

Re:Even more interesting than seeing a Cat (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350493)

Its been illegal since 9/11 to take any photos in or on any of the bridges and tunnels of NYC.
How on Earth do they think they can enforce such a law? You can't take a tourist picture on the Brooklyn Bridge? How did Wikipedia get their [wikipedia.org] picture from 2005 then?

Re:Even more interesting than seeing a Cat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19350609)

Because that picture is of the bridge, not taken on the bridge.

Cue "In Soviet Russia" jokes. (4, Insightful)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350541)

Remember when _we_ were the home of freedom and democracy and _they_ were the evil empire who banned photos of anything that could be a military target?

The UK is just as bad. We refuse to extradite a Russian oligarch to Russia to stand trial on numerous serious charges ranging from fraud to terrorism, then complain when the Russians won't extradite a Russian to us to stand trial for murder. But of course we are the good guys.

Re:Even more interesting than seeing a Cat (1)

Harlockjds (463986) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350545)

they also have pics on the GWB which i think has the same law (not that it stops anyone from taking pics but there are signs saying not to)

Re:Even more interesting than seeing a Cat (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350583)

Its been illegal since 9/11 to take any photos in or on any of the bridges and tunnels of NYC.
wtf?

Re:Even more interesting than seeing a Cat (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350733)

No, it's not illegal. Yes, I know there are signs but there is no legal backing for them. Also, the ever-helpful police will tell you it is illegal and will harrass or detain you.

This is BS, be realistic (1)

denvman (1074627) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350449)

Many nations out there just dream that these things were available for them. It is the ultimate truth of living in the country of freedom of expression: being able to be famous every once in a while in that page that people from Congo can open up and see your cat. Go live in the hut somewhere at the St. Laurence island. I bet the picture of your cat will be kept private for a century or two.

If you look closely (3, Funny)

hansoloaf (668609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350483)

If you look closely at the cat in the picture
You can see the cat looks desperate to get out of the house and away from the crazy lady.

Perhaps we should band up and conduct a rescue raid.

American way looks strange (1)

oddmake (715380) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350535)

...to Japanese.
Some /.-jper also complains about Google privacy policy [slashdot.jp] .
and got answered with US thinking about picture at public place.

#An Annoymous Cowered wondered what happened if the most well-known American sentient mouse is photographed at public place [slashdot.jp] .but it's entirely another matter.

Duh, +1 (1, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350537)

Lady, if you have privacy concerns, close your drapes.

I don't know, but it was pretty clear to me (no pun intended) from an early age that windows are generally see-through BOTH WAYS. Glass is a fairly egalitarian thing. Don't want to be seen? Pull the shades. And before the privacy wanks all chime in about how unfair this is that one must isolate oneself for privacy - at a certain point, you can't deny the reality of your existence in a physical world, where, barring pricey tech, if you can see out others can see in.

Next thing you know, someone might be LOOKING AT YOU without your permission! Oh noes!

Not good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19350551)

You idiots clearly fail to realise the danger of indiscriminant surveilence.

Don't worry, reality will sink in soon enough.

Re:Not good (1)

Canthros (5769) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350781)

1. 'indiscriminant' is not a word. You probably meant 'indiscriminate'.
2. Surveillance has two l's and only two e's.

And this hardly constitutes indiscriminate surveillance.

1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19350561)

You say it is becoming 1984 when the brits put up cameras all over the place to "watch" people. But when /.'s hero google does the same type of thing that the brits are doing. Everyone says "Close the binds". When the use gov does this type of thing with UAV's none of you will have the right to say anything about how the government is invading our privacy.

Have you ever thought to think that maybe she is not as concerned about the picture but rather the picture will always be online and she can not remove it? It is for the whole world to see. Just think if your son or daughter was at the park and was in a picture of googles' and some pervert was at home getting all excited about your little kid playing at the park. You would be kind of frightened and pissed off at the same time. Especially if that pervert then came to the park looking for your kid. Just something to think about. Maybe we need to watch how much information is online.

Privacy vs. technology (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350565)

That "battle" has only begun, and this is but the first incident.

What's wrong about seeing that old woman's pussy (juvenile crowd, silence please)? You could stand in the street, look up and behold, you would've seen the same. That cute fuzzy thing.

The difference is that you would have to have been THERE, exactly THEN, to behold it. This moment is now frozen forever, for everyone to see.

Now imagine a FF to the not-so-far future, when it becomes technically possible to do such things not only as snapshots, but continuous. Perfect live streams from everywhere to everywhere. Yes, the technology is already here, but I'm talking absolutely ubitiquous. "Google street view" gives you the current live pictures from whatever corner of the world you want to be on.

Kinda scary if you ask me. Stalking's never been easier. It would be trivial to follow a person throughout his or her life.

"Close the blinds" kinda doesn't cut it. Every halfway remotely free country on this planet defines your home as some kind of sanctuary, where even the state can't simply waltz in and do what they please. Here, it's illegal to explicitly spy into the windows of houses you can look into. When you take a picture of a house, you have to get the (written) OK from every single owner of an apartment in the house whose window you might be showing in that picture, if you want to publish the picture.

I'm kinda surprised that no law like this exists in the US.

Re:Privacy vs. technology (3, Insightful)

Oxygen99 (634999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350711)

Thanks for putting your finger on exactly what was making me so uneasy about this. It's not the cameras or the thought of someone watching, it's the thought of someone watching AND making these images available to everyone, everywhere, all the time

Once you get away from the kneejerk 'OMFGWTFROFL stupid lawsuit, stupid woman, stupid cat' response, there's an important issue at stake. I sure as hell don't want pictures of me broadcast over the net without my permission. Doubly so if the perpetrators are making money off that, however small my contribution may be. To me, crystallising that moment of my life without my permission takes it out of the public domain and into your domain. If any of you want to come watch me engage in my daily activities, that's cool, at least until I call the cops or slap you upside the head, but don't you dare broadcast those images without my permission.

Recursive invasion of privacy (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350567)

Where does it end? What if google shows a picture of you through your window on your computer on google looking at someone else through their window?

Public view (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350569)

If your cat/books/whatever else is in view of the general public, then your lack of privacy is your doing. Not Google's.

If you don't want someone seeing your cat or your books, cover your window. The street is a public place and anyone can go there are look anywhere they want. Why don't you call John Doe that takes your street to his work and tell him to stop looking around in front of your house.

Your 15 minutes are up.

Street View Shows San Franciscans, Hides NYers (1)

SkinnyGuy (697369) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350573)

According to PCMag,http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2139716 ,00.asp [pcmag.com] the Google Maps Street View walk through New York City shows only blurry faces, street signs, etc. But San Francisco is a different story. Even so, Lance Ulanoff says Google will not back down. This thing is going to make Google another boatload of money.

i've been saying it for a long time now (1, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350593)

but google has a darling reputation with the slashdot crowd, derived from circa 2002 when it was a darling upstart challenge to the dominant players

however, the slashdot crowd, enamored as it with privacy, is beginning to learn that "do no evil" is just a marketing slogan, and that, in fact, in cases like this, as with doubleclick, as with cooperation with authoritarian china, as with data retention of searches [myway.com] , that google isn't really such a darling company any more

it is my prediction that within 5 years, due to google's massive ability to read and retain so much data about our lives that would otherwise be anonymous and private, that you will see google become something hated on slashdot far more than something like microsoft, and approaching the hatred the usual slashdot crowd reserves for the likes of ashcroft or the current neocons in the white house. in 2 years time, this crop of neocons will be long gone. google won't. google will still be growing, feeding on all of our data

mark my words folks, from the left, from the right, you will all come to loathe google, for a myriad of privacy intruding reasons, that are only thickening day by day

google's CEO on record saying google will eventually know more about you than you will know about yourself [ft.com] :

Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive, said gathering more personal data was a key way for Google to expand and the company believes that is the logical extension of its stated mission to organise the world's information.

Asked how Google might look in five years' time, Mr Schmidt said: "We are very early in the total information we have within Google. The algorithms will get better and we will get better at personalisation.

"The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as 'What shall I do tomorrow?' and 'What job shall I take?'"

The race to accumulate the most comprehensive database of individual information has become the new battleground for search engines as it will allow the industry to offer far more personalised advertisements. These are the holy grail for the search industry, as such advertising would command higher rates.

Mr Schmidt told journalists in London: "We cannot even answer the most basic questions because we don't know enough about you. That is the most important aspect of Google's expansion."


if some of you are still worried about microsoft, and haven't redirected your focus on google as basically the most evil thing happening on the Internet/ in the realm of privacy today, you are behind the times, your stereotypes are outdated

Bonnes photo (1)

netdur (816698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350599)

if you check "Girl Bends Over... Guys Check Her Out" [1] look at other side, you will see man coming out from strip club, worst timing ever!
1 - map [google.com]

Youngins! (1)

zenyu (248067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350603)

I spotted a former intern of mine in the "Google Dorks" picture. The "kid" looks older than most of his co-workers...

(And, no I'm not old. I haven't even bought my mid-life-crisis-car yet.)

They explained this at Google Developer Day (3, Informative)

Fross (83754) | more than 7 years ago | (#19350671)

...which was yesterday. If anyone had a problem with content for any of the photos they had taken, they would remove it on request.

What they're doing is not illegal, as other posters have pointed out, and they seem pretty receptive to the privacy concerns. Kudos to them for doing something very useful with some sort of conscience.
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