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Google Street View Could Be Unlawful In Europe

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the please-sign-here dept.

Google 248

arallsopp writes "European data protection laws restrict the commercial use of photographs where individuals are identifiable. The law sets extra requirements for so-called sensitive personal data: it demands explicit consent, not just notification: 'If Google's multi-lens camera cars come to Europe and inadvertently find themselves taking pictures of persons leaving a church or sexual health clinic, they may just need to pull over and start picking up signatures.'"

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248 comments

Well, maybe... (1, Insightful)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504619)

...but probably not in England.

Re:Well, maybe... (1)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504641)

It's probably only legal for the Government do photograph you in public

Re:Well, maybe... (1)

include($dysmas) (729935) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504801)

probably even they can't for commercial purposes

Re:Well, maybe... (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504955)

"probably even they can't for commercial purposes"

Ok...when I read the headline, first thing I thought of..."They have 1000's of CCTV cameras over there, watching their every move, and they're getting riled up about Google taking their picture too?"

Ok, so now that I read your reply..I get it. Suvelliance for non-commercial purposes GOOD, if you try to make a buck off it BAD.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Re:Well, maybe... (2, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505177)

Ok, so now that I read your reply..I get it. Survelliance for non-commercial purposes GOOD, if you try to make a buck off it BAD.
While that, and this article, all sound very plausible there's one huge gaping hole in the logic of this...

The UK has one of the most virulent and productive paparazzi in existence. They make a fortune off of candid pictures taken without the consent of the subjects. They do this all over Europe. They have been doing this for a number of years.

Quite simply, this article is wrong. It is legal to take pictures of someone in any public place, and it is legal to make money off them. Consent or not. Period.

Re:Well, maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505801)

Only if you are a reporter, journalist or professional photographer. If you go and photograph people without press credentials, you're in for a WORLD of pain.

Re:Well, maybe... (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504837)

If they do, then you are allowed to request copies of the photographs and any other information they have on you. They are allowed to charge a maximum of £10 per request for access to this information.

Re:Well, maybe... (1)

OverlordsShadow (1034748) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504757)

I thought this was pretty weird knowing that UK is one of the most watched countries in the world via CCTV but the article did say that even they have rules by which the information can be viewed and shared. Funny thing is even they are breaking their own rules (see article) so I doubt anyone besides rights groups and mabye high courts will do anything about a citizens complaints. Mabye Google should start having like paid holidays or something where everyone is mandated to stay in their house with curtains/blinds closed while they take pics of our streets. Although I am sure someone would figure out a way to complain about that too....

Re:Well, maybe... (2, Interesting)

Handbrewer (817519) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504951)

As far as I know, its legal in Denmark too. If you're on a public area, and you get photographed, say tourists posing in a photo and you happen to be in the background, and this photo is published on the Web, you cant demand it to be taken down.

Next thing you know, they'd have to blur all the audiences at sports events, because *gasp* they might be televised ?

However, that is not to say i approve of what Google is doing, i think the basic idea is good, I think some effort to at least blur out car registration plates and faces should be done. When they do it on such a large scale, and especially the whole thing about unmarked vans doing it makes it feel kinda creepy. If it said GOOGLE STREET VIEW PICTURE CAM-VAN and wasn't secretive about doing it, it would upset me that much.

Re:Well, maybe... (4, Insightful)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505275)

If it said GOOGLE STREET VIEW PICTURE CAM-VAN and wasn't secretive about doing it, it would upset me that much.

I agree that blurring license plates faces may be a good idea, but I can understand why Google doesn't wander around in a van that advertises "Hey! Do something crazy now and you'll be immortalized on Google!" Secrecy is not always a bad thing. Google just wants pictures of the streets as they are. If they advertise what they are doing the would get all kinds of crazies doing crazy/stupid/dangerous stuff.

Re:Well, maybe... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505281)

As far as I know, its legal in Denmark too. If you're on a public area, and you get photographed, say tourists posing in a photo and you happen to be in the background, and this photo is published on the Web, you cant demand it to be taken down.
I dunno about Denmark, but there's a difference between commercial use and personal use.

Re:Well, maybe... (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505573)

I doubt it's legal in Denmark. A few years back there was a case where someone had put up a webcam covering a harbour-area, and even though the quality was too bad to personally identify someone, it was deemed illegal.

Re:Well, maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505723)

"Next thing you know, they'd have to blur all the audiences at sports events, because *gasp* they might be televised?"

Actually, if you read the small print for tickets to events (sport, concerts, plays, etc), they generally say that (to attend) you must agree that your image may be recorded and broadcast. I don't think this solution works for Google, though.

Re:Well, maybe... (2, Interesting)

bedonnant (958404) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505021)

In France, it is illegal. Every person has a right to his or her own image. It is legal to take pictures of people in public places. It is illegal to publish them without written consent. I am not sure how well this law is applied, especially in the press, but this is the theory. And I also think that it is illegal to take pictures of people in a private place, without consent. That would include, say, people in their home that can be seen from the street through a window.

Re:Well, maybe... (1)

French Mailman (773320) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505129)

True, it is illegal in France. That said, the French yellow pages [pagesjaunes.fr] have implemented a similar "street view" web service on their web site several years ago, which now covers over 30 cities.
(the website linked is in French, but pretty much self explanatory)

Re:Well, maybe... (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505429)

Using it for commercial reasons is a different issue entirely to CCTV, which I'm sure is what you're referring to. And in Britain (which you seem to have confused with England), we have the Data Protection Act, which would require Google to send to anyone who asked a copy of any and all images they hold of the applicant. Don't think that just because of the CCTV that people's privacy is somehow undermined - it's there to help the population, not screw them over. But don't let me harsh your knee-jerky buzz.

Re:Well, maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505639)

But probably not in France either.

For at least 8 years http://www.pagesjaunes.fr/ [pagesjaunes.fr] has had street level photos of cities such as Lyon. I see people in those pictures and while I don't know for sure I doubt that signatures where gathered....

Big Brother (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19504631)

Google is Big Brother. They should change the motto to "Do only evil."

Far more likely (and useful)... (4, Insightful)

Cutriss (262920) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504657)

...is that they will start taking multiple sets of photographs in the same locations on each street, and then splicing or otherwise removing the people present in the photos.

This was never meant to be an exercise in snooping on people, though it has turned into an artistic representation of real life.

Re:Far more likely (and useful)... (1)

White Yeti (927387) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504743)

My thoughts exactly. They could even market the software they develop to do this.

One possible side effect: A large database containing a 3-D walkthrough "VR" environment completely devoid of human life. Sort of freaky if you stop to think about it. Like part of a zombie movie...or a MMOG with just one player.

Re:Far more likely (and useful)... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504889)

From another perspective, the same data and software could be used to accurately map the locations and whereabouts of every person in public space.

Kind of like the automatic license plate detection for the london congestion charge, but on a human scale.

Re:Far more likely (and useful)... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505257)

It will be like the original Myst game by Broderbund. It had an incredibly lonely feeling and the haunting music made it even worse. Still, it was a very good game and the haunted feeling actually contributed to the mystical effect.

Re:Far more likely (and useful)... (1)

uncoveror (570620) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505061)

It would be easier to pixelate faces, and anything visible through a window.

Re:Far more likely (and useful)... (4, Interesting)

phayes (202222) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505601)

The French Yellowpages [pagesjaunes.fr] have had pictures of addresses with recognizable people on their website for years. Search for an address in Paris then click on "Photo" link. While the pictures are small, and usually taken early enough in the day that few people are around, if you navigate around you can find pictures of buildings with recognizable people in them.

If these privacy kooks want to condemn google, they should have condemned FT first.

Re:Far more likely (and useful)... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505771)

You don't live in a big city, do you?

You certainly can't drive though Times Square without seeing anyone on the street. Especially not if you want a daytime photo.

Google doesn't need consent (4, Insightful)

timholman (71886) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504665)

Google doesn't need consent from anyone. All they need to do is blur out the images of any people in a street scene, just like the TV networks do.

Why is everyone making such a fuss over this when the solution is well known and trivial to implement?

Re:Google doesn't need consent (5, Funny)

richdun (672214) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504703)

You have a 5-digit user number, so I won't go with the standard "You must be new here," but come on - making a fuss over problems with trivial and well-known solutions is what we do here.

Re:Google doesn't need consent (1)

0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504825)

Don't forget constantly making introspective jokes about the stuff we do here.

Re:Google doesn't need consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505325)

It's not a joke.

Re:Google doesn't need consent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19504987)

You have a 5-digit user number, so I won't go with the standard "You must be new here,"

Good for you. Save that line for the people with 2-digit user IDs.

Re:Google doesn't need consent (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504707)

Or just stop long enough so the people can move a few feet or so and then create a people-less picture from the shots thus obtained.

Re:Google doesn't need consent (2, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504899)

This would become counter-productive.
If you're hanging around taking such shots, you might be taken for someone with nefarious purpose.
Worse still, you could be tagged as Google, find yourself awash in resumes, then busted for littering, as the wind disperses those little sheets of fabrication like so much political propaganda.

Re:Google doesn't need consent (2, Funny)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504879)

Blurring? I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. Smile!

Facial Recognition (3, Interesting)

castlec (546341) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504675)

with blur. It's that simple. They don't need an advanced algorithm to identify individual people, only one to identify that there is a person there and then apply a blur on that region of the photo. I think Google can handle it.

Re:Facial Recognition (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504729)

with blur. It's that simple. They don't need an advanced algorithm to identify individual people, only one to identify that there is a person there and then apply a blur on that region of the photo. I think Google can handle it.
Yup.

Seriously, I could whip up an algo to do just that myself, I'm sure the giant heads working at google can do it too.
And if blurring is too high-tech, just do the classic black rectangle. No fuss at all.

Re:Facial Recognition (1)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504835)

I'm not a fan of the blur. Millions of headless people? That's inhumanely frightening. My vote goes for placing big yellow smileys over their heads.

Re:Facial Recognition (1)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505319)

Nope, they can't. Legally, that is. Whatever post-processing you do on an image, fact remains that they, a private company, have obtained unlawful imagery.

B.

Re:Facial Recognition (1)

castlec (546341) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505611)

you may be right but there are loop-holes in Article 8 of Directive 95/46
Paragraph 1 shall not apply where:
(c) processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of the data subject or of another person where the data subject is physically or legally incapable of giving his consent; or
(e) the processing relates to data which are manifestly made public by the data subject or is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.

Not gonna happen (4, Funny)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504695)

taking pictures of persons leaving a church or sexual health clinic


In godless, sexually liberated Europe, I don't see that happening anyway.

Yes, well, see... (5, Funny)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505123)

Yes, well, see, that's just what makes it a privacy issue. Being such a godless bunch, we wouldn't want to be caught on photo coming out of a church, would we? What would our godless friends think about that? Beats having to find some quick explanation like, "I... uhh... thought it was a kinky S&M club. You know, what with the naked guy on the cross, and all." ;)

Modify the van (3, Funny)

Suspended_Reality (927563) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504721)

Have you seen the google van [wired.com] ? A quick stop in Italy to make some modifications to the van, and you'll get that explicit consent, right boss?

Hey Tony, get out of the van, this guy doesn't wanna sign the consent...

Wanted to get caught... (2, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504723)

On an evening in August 1995, a 42-year-old called Geoffrey Peck attempted suicide by cutting his wrists with a kitchen knife while on Brentwood High Street in Essex, England. CCTV cameras caught the action, the council's CCTV operator alerted the police and the police intervened. Peck lived. But still images from the CCTV footage were sold by the local council to the media. Peck took his complaint as far as the European Court of Human Rights and won.

What was he doing in front of cameras while trying to commit suicide?

He sued because he wanted to sell the footage to Rupert Murdoch.

Re:Wanted to get caught... (1)

mulvane (692631) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505097)

From some experience in my town in various locales there, what can you do not inside your own home without a CCTV camera seeing you from some obscure angle.

Re:Wanted to get caught... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505145)

What was he doing in front of cameras while trying to commit suicide?
He was in Britain.

Re:Wanted to get caught... (1)

dbolger (161340) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505657)

Have you spent much time in England? Over there, with the exception of in your own home, you are pretty much in front of a camera at all times.

Silliness. (2, Interesting)

jpellino (202698) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504771)

They're walking down the street. Everyone can see them.
They're already on 15 cameras a day according to recent numbers, and everyone has a cell camera.
This is like the HIPAA laws in this country.
Besides my reflux, I now have writer's cramp from filling out the HIPAA forms acknowleding that they told me they won't tell anyone what I have.
As my doctor said, what is he going to do, run out into the parking lot and start yelling "You won't believe what JP has!"
Plus, when you sit in the waiting room and anyone over 55 starts a conversation, it's all about what's wrong with them, and turns into a mass symptom and storytelling party.

Re:Silliness. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505001)

There is a difference being seen, and having your image used for commercial purposes. Google are providing a commercial service, and gain income from advertisers as a result of publishing photographs containing images of people. It can be argued that they would make the same money if the images did not contain people, but that doesn't alter the fact that they are publishing pictures of identifiable people for commercial gain.

Re:Silliness. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505387)

As someone who did programming and data work, I feel compelled to tell you that you should be very happy about the HIPAA forms.

A lot of Hospitals, doctor office, and clinics were just throwing out medical records, and the patient confidentiality wasn't really thought about outside the most obvious situations.

Since this happens outside the patient expected base of knowledge, it didn't giv the market very many opportunities to respond. The times it could respond were always after the fact. So really to late to do anything.

Yeah it's a pain, but I was glad to see the industry begin to clean up it's act.

The paper work in your example is not required by HIPAA. It is required due to some policy(probably the insurance companies policy).

Re:Silliness. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505695)

Nah the doctor does not want to yell in the parking lot what you have. But the health insurance companies sucked vast quantities of data about what every person has. The idea is, if some research shows that people who get cold more than twice a year will develop diabetes in five years, they will put everyone with two colds in a year in a "higher risk" category and asses higher premia. Or they could cherry pick patients and leave the government holding all the really sick patients and the health insurance companies insure only robust individuals in the pink of their health.

Pharma execs are not far behind. Salivating at the chance to do some direct marketing. So that they can interrupt someones dinner pitch a new medicine for his pain in the butt.

So painful and cramp inducing as it is, the intent behind HIPAA is good. But ofcourse the Big Pharma and Bid Insurance will get their data anyway. No matter what laws are passed. Only thing is they will refuse to cover cramps induced by HIPAA forms.

Kaiser Wilhelm II (1, Informative)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504785)

I think it was Kaiser Wilhelm II who first forced this kind of law at the beginning of the previous century. Apparently he had had a bad hair day photo taken and created a law...

It would have been nice to be an Emperor, occassionally! I have had many a bad hair day.

EU Big Deal (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19504803)

Try this in Baghdad.

Uh oh, I hope they don't catch me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19504815)

...playing with my google.

solution (-1, Redundant)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504817)

Maybe they could just get a bunch of interns to go through and blur out the faces...

Being in public is not "sensitive personal data" (2, Insightful)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504833)

You appearance on the street does not constitute "sensitive personal data" no matter where you are and what you are being photographed in front of. This is an overly alarmist article more suited for the frothing-at-the-mouth types over at Digg than here at Slashdot.

Re:Being in public is not "sensitive personal data (4, Insightful)

robably (1044462) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505077)

You appearance on the street does not constitute "sensitive personal data"
True, but the law over here also recognizes that your appearance on the street does not constitute a consent to be photographed.

If some people don't care whether they are photographed in public, but others do, then regardless of the law you should act considerately and ask permission before photographing someone, rather than assuming they feel the same way you do. People have no choice but to appear in public occasionally; it shouldn't be used as justification for photographing them, and the law in Europe recognizes this.

Re:Being in public is not "sensitive personal data (1)

Fyz (581804) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505629)

Really? [nytimes.com] Are you talking about a fictional country called Europe here, or the moon orbiting Jupiter?

Re:Being in public is not "sensitive personal data (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505659)

>People have no choice but to appear in public occasionally; it shouldn't be used as justification for photographing them, and the law in Europe recognizes this.

Yea man, what do you want us to do? wear a "robots.txt" around our necks?

Re:Being in public is not "sensitive personal data (1)

bedonnant (958404) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505085)

No, but publication of your image without consent is, for example, forbidden in France. It is not a matter of what is sensitive or not, it is a matter of respect of the person, that has a right to choose whether they want to be seen by possible millions on a google picture or not.

Re:Being in public is not "sensitive personal data (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505107)

In Europe is it, and is covered by the data protection laws. Just ask the gutter press how many times they've been bitch-slapped in court for snapping royals, celeb's and politicians in less than desirable situations.

Sensor the face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19504895)

It doesn't seem like that much of a technological feat to just put a black bar over the eyes. Heck, google could probabaly automate this process "if two eyes, put a black bar over them"..

Done and done, have at the sexual health clinic

"Clap clap clap"

Big Deal.. (0, Redundant)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504925)

All this means is that faces will be blurred. This will be WAY more cost / time efficient than actually getting signatures, or trying to only get shots with no people.

In fact, they are probably working on some sort of automated way to do this right now.

Not blurring license plates... (3, Interesting)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504931)


I've seen the plentiful comments about simply blurring the faces, but a quick look at the San Fran streets shows me they're not bluring the license plates. I've got a crystal clear pic of one up right now. I can even clearly see that the vehicle was purchased at 'SERRAMONTE FORD', whatever that is. It also has some kind of a work-rig on top. I wonder if those are commercial plates? A quick DMV lookup should tell me, one sec... I can't quite make out the letters on the tags, but I bet Cali uses a color-code system. They're - well you get the point.

If they won't/can't do that, why then would they do faces?

Re:Not blurring license plates... (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505535)

Just because they aren't blurring the plates doesn't mean they couldn't. They probably aren't doing it now because they don't really care either way, so why spend the time/money making that happen if you don't need to. If people start raising a big stink about it, and google starts hearing bad PR about it, then they'll probably do something about it.

They would do faces if it was the easiest way to comply with laws that limit publishing pictures of random people on the street. The motivations aren't hard to discern here.

Re:Not blurring license plates... (2, Insightful)

mgblst (80109) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505751)

Brilliant. You know another place I have found unblurred licence plates. Out on the street, their are hundreds of them. Surely this is some privacy violation. Something needs to be done, think of the children.

I think there maybe a good argument against google AND Microsoft/Amazon doing this, but lets be sensible here. I am not sure that readable number plates are the biggest problem here.

A lot of people are missing the point (5, Insightful)

GauteL (29207) | more than 6 years ago | (#19504965)

Some countries in Europe may have laws against photographing people, I don't know. But here we are talking about laws against publishing said photographs without express permission from the people being photographed. Many countries have such laws and the exception is typically if the person being photographed can be said to be a "public figure", in which case you are free to publicise pictures of them without permission, except if the pictures where obtained in a way that would be consider a violation of privacy (climbing over their garden fence to spy at them in their swimming pool).

The main reason for this kind of laws is that two parties freedom are directly at odds. The freedom of the photographer and publisher has to be weighed up against the freedom and privacy of the individual.

The laws surrounding surveillance cameras are in other words completely irrelevant in this discussion as we are talking about the right to publish rather than the right to monitor. The police state discussion is a different discussion altogether.

Re:A lot of people are missing the point (2, Interesting)

bedonnant (958404) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505165)

exactly. since in France it is forbidden to publish without consent one's photograph, I was somehow surprised at this google project; and we all have seen many examples of people that, if they had a choice, would probably have declined being exposed over the whole internet in such positions. Publishing pictures is fine, but you have to respect the individual and the fact that many people do not want their faces anywhere on the internet. What one chooses to do with one's image is actually a prized individual freedom in France.

Re:A lot of people are missing the point (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505551)

Exactly. I'm not saying it would be right to sue Google, but consider the reasons these laws were put in place. There have been cases of neo-nazi groups collecting photographs, home and work addresses, and so on for "race traitors" and their families and publishing online.

Pictures in french directory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19504975)

(I'm french)
In France, there is a directory (pagesjaunes) that provides, with their addresses, pictures of many of the building in Paris. But you never see a recognizeable person on them (most of the time there is noone on them).

There is no excuse to this kind of problems: simply blur people after pictures are taken. And people should never have to ask. Everybody deserves his privacy.

Re:Pictures in french directory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505335)

"(I'm french)"

You're also uninformed about architectural photography.

For a building you want crisp definition over a big depth of focus. That means a small aperture.

Small apertures mean long exposures are needed. But if you go for much longer than 1/100 then you get blurring of any movement in the photograph. This is bad.

However, if you go for 30 secs or so, any moving things in the picture DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY. Think about it. In 30 secs I've walked past most of the picture - my light in any one place is going to be minimal compared to the buildings'.

This is why old photos of 1880 Paris are apparently empty. They weren't, just that the people didn't show up on the 30 minute exposures of the time. It's hard to try with a modern camera - film speeds are too fast, but if you can do it it's quite spectacular. Architectural films are still slow for just this reason. If the Google Van used this approach it would be fine!

PS - With a captcha of 'pedagogy' I hope to get some 'informative' marks!!

Precede it with a warning vehicle? (1)

Kainaw (676073) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505089)

It would seem that a warning vehicle could drive in front of the google car to warn people. However, I feel that the end result would be idiots rushing out into the street with dumb signs and the street view tool would become rather useless. Perhaps Google should just invest into technology to automatically erase people from photos.

Re:Precede it with a warning vehicle? (1)

that IT girl (864406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505653)

Or Google could just, you know, STOP with the stupid Street View thing.

Honestly, if I wanted to look at a street, I'd just go outside. Seems like a frivolous waste of resources. I can't wait to tell my kids about the amazing technology we had back in my day that gave us the ability to look at a street.

Not really a problem, solutions already exists (3, Informative)

i-neo (176120) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505137)

This is not really a problem.

Of course Google will have to implement some algorithm to avoid publishing recognizable pictures of someone. But a lot of technologies are already available to solve this problem. One of the most impressive I have seen is inpainting: once you have selected the area you wish to remove from the picture it rebuilds the missing part... There is a Gimp plugin that perform this kind of operation: http://www.manucornet.net/Informatique/Gimp_Textur ize.php [manucornet.net]

Ah yes I almost forgot... it turns out that the author is now working at Google.
I am pretty sure that with all those people working there they can do something about it ;)

Use Long Exposure Times (1)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505159)

Then anything that moves will be blurred, including people. Sorted!

Re:Use Long Exposure Times (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505251)

Exactly. All clods here suggesting facial blur only make things too complicated. Long enough exposure times and even the blurs will become invisible- it's a simple matter of signal to noise ratio.

Europe versus the US (2, Interesting)

InklingBooks (687623) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505161)

'If Google's multi-lens camera cars come to Europe and inadvertently find themselves taking pictures of persons leaving a church or sexual health clinic, they may just need to pull over and start picking up signatures.'"

So if I'm in Paris and take a picture of Notre Dame that just happens to catch some well-known atheist leaving, and (unknowingly) post it to a blog, I'm is serious legal trouble? How absurd. I always thought Europe had way too many laws. This only confirms that impression.

What Google is doing has a lot of people (particularly women) understandably upset, but from what I've hear it's no more illegal here than all the satellite photos they've been posting for several years. If our laws made what Google's doing illegal, they'd also be making most outdoor photography illegal. (How do you take a picture outside without including some stranger in it?) Europeans, particularly those in Belgium and Northern Germany, may like a "What is not mandatory is illegal" mindset--the infamous attitude of the Prussians--but I'm not sure most people in the US will.

Re:Europe versus the US (1)

bedonnant (958404) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505303)

So if I'm in Paris and take a picture of Notre Dame that just happens to catch some well-known atheist leaving, and (unknowingly) post it to a blog, I'm is serious legal trouble?
Not serious. The identifiable persons could ask you to take it down, and perhaps ask for reparation. Of course if you are a company using these pictures for a commercial product, then it is far more serious and real legal trouble could arise.
Say you are photographed by google with a finger up your nose, unaware of what's going on. Would you be comfortable with a company using that picture of you, publishing it on a very popular web service, so that anyone in the world can without any mistake identify you as the finger-up-his-nose guy?

Re:Europe versus the US (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505685)

Say you are photographed by google with a finger up your nose, unaware of what's going on. Would you be comfortable with a company using that picture of you, publishing it on a very popular web service, so that anyone in the world can without any mistake identify you as the finger-up-his-nose guy?
Well, it would make a better ice-breaker with women than any I've got at the moment...

Where's the fancy image processing? (4, Interesting)

geeche suede (264458) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505243)

I'm surprised google hasn't endeavored to capture multiple shots of locations at different times and aggregated that data to create unobstructed views along each street.

Why allow people, cars and trucks to obstruct signage? If they don't help identify the location or give you a feel for the "street view", remove them.

There's that tourist remover [snapmania.com] project that seems relevant.

Privacy shouldn't even be an issue because the people simply don't need to be in the photos.

Funny. (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505269)

The government can put cameras on every block, but anyone who takes pictures of the streets themselves for public use is illegal.

I know it's daily government behavior, and there's probably lots more examples of it... but, it's still funny.

what if it isn't identifiable? (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505291)

what if it isn't identifiable, say that the is a giant smiley face emoticon where the person's head is (or some other methond of censoring their face)?

Expectations of privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505315)

When we are told one should have no expectation of privacy in the outdoors what's really being said is one should have an expectation of being under surveillance at all times while outdoors. When Mr. Spock scanned the planet, we were being psychologically prepared for a predetermined future. And so between engineering the future vs. citizens voting for their representatives and deciding a future with engineering as part of the equation, the latter has become an utter joke.

As long as its not the government using it... (1)

spocksbrain (1097145) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505381)

Citizens cannot use google maps, however the government can put a video cammera on every street corner and on security helocopters flying around the major cities?

It's not only people (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505419)

In France, I have heard of several cases of people who had ads banned because their house could be recognized on the photo, so advertizers now make sure to have the consent of the owners or simply photoshop fake houses over photos of empy land when they need individual homes in their ads. I don't know if it would impact massive collection.

That's not what the law says (4, Interesting)

Richard Fairhurst (900015) | more than 6 years ago | (#19505477)

IANAL, obviously, but I'm the editor of a UK magazine which regularly prints pictures which happen to include people - without getting their consent. And I don't agree with TFA at all. It says that "if we're taking snaps for commercial use, where individuals are identifiable, there is no such exemption". Fine. But to back this up, it links to a report of an earlier ECJ case [out-law.com] . This report says:

Mrs Bodil Lindqvist was an active member of her church in the parish of Alseda in Sweden. As part of a computer course Lindqvist had to set up an internet home page, and chose to create a site giving information to church parishioners. Unfortunately the pages included information about Mrs Lindqvist and 18 of her fellow church volunteers. This information included some full names, telephone numbers and references to hobbies and jobs held by her colleagues
And according to the ECJ, this was a problem because:

"that the act of referring, on an internet page, to various persons and identifying them by name or by other means, for instance by giving their telephone number or information regarding their working conditions and hobbies, constitutes the processing of personal data wholly or partly by automatic means within the meaning of [the Directive]."
You see the difference with what Google's doing? Google Street View means people are identifiable. But it doesn't identify them. That's what Mrs Lindqvist did - she posted their names and phone numbers - and that's what she was fined for. So if you annotate GSV to say "this is Fred with Mary, who isn't his wife", you've infringed. But I don't see how Google, by merely posting the photos, is doing anything wrong. (French privacy law may well apply a stricter standard, of course.)

It is an invasion of privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19505523)

Otherwise I wouldn't see this [google.com] .
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