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Google May Blur Canadian Faces and License Plates

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the blur-me-blur-me dept.

Google 232

KingK writes "Reuters reports that Google is considering a Canadian launch of its Street View map feature, which offers street-level close-ups of city centers. But the company said it would probably blur people's faces and vehicle license plates to respect tougher Canadian privacy laws."

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232 comments

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Draw attention. (4, Funny)

eggman9713 (714915) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799865)

Well, now I have to go find some other way to draw attnetion to myself. *Logs into Facebook*

Re:Draw attention. (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801571)

Well, now I have to go find some other way to draw attnetion to myself. *Logs into Facebook*
You don't need to. They said "blur faces and license plates". Last time I checked, "whale tails [urbandictionary.com] " are not considered license plates (and much less faces)...

Wow! (5, Interesting)

the roAm (827323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799875)

Now I'm even more glad that I'm moving to Canada -- after seeing this story I looked up a bunch of stuff and apparently Canada has some of the best privacy laws in the world.

Re:Wow! (4, Interesting)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799899)

You aren't allowed to publish photos of people who can be identified on the web without their permission in Sweden either. Why don't they just take 3 or more photos at the same place with some time inbetween and remove the parts "which has changed" between the shoots?

Re:Wow! (2, Interesting)

acoster (812556) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799913)

Lighting conditions could change between those photos, making it rather awkward. Keep in mind that those pictures are taken by a car, so stopping for a while to take those shots is not really an option.

Re:Wow! (2, Interesting)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800055)

Well, I don't know if you can force our laws on a project where someone from another country have taken photos here and publish it on the web and host them on foreign servers. I guess not, but then what is stoping ME from doing it and spreading photos of everyone on foreign servers?

In case it's not legal I guess they need to find a way to solve it, or just not publish any photos from such countries.

Also I where thinking like seconds appart (thought that will not remove cars which stand still), not hours.

Re:Wow! (3, Insightful)

blowdart (31458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800499)

In case it's not legal I guess they need to find a way to solve it, or just not publish any photos from such countries.

Or they could, shock horror, do the non-evil thing and blur faces and number plates for every country, as opposed to waiting to be forced to think about privacy by a particular country's laws.

Re:Wow! (4, Interesting)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800973)

I was waiting for someone to say that.

Hopefully without breaking the NDA, I should mention that people at Google looked at me strangely when I suggested that they blur faces on street view. They couldn't understand why the privacy implications of such a service are a problem, as what they are doing is technically legal in the USA. However, when people are posting images of random people picking their noses or something on Digg for millions to gawk at (and such things have appeared even on the Digg front page from time to time), there's a problem - it can ruin someone's reputation for a rather stupid reason if the person is identified. To me, that's evil. To them, fixing it should be the cautious thing to do so they don't get sued (weren't they already involved in a lawsuit for this?), even if it happens to jive with their morals.

I don't know if the "don't be evil" thing is practiced as rigorously by the individual employees there as the company would like you to believe. Creating nifty things seems to win out over most moral considerations; at least, this was the impression I got while I was there. Nifty things are good, but people should think about how their technology is going to be used rather than just what they could make.

Re:Wow! (1)

linhux (104645) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801457)

There are plenty of algorithms for compensating for varying lightning conditions. See HDR program or autostich-like software for examples.

Re:Wow! (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800925)

You aren't allowed to publish photos of people who can be identified on the web without their permission in Sweden either.

Interesting - how does it apply to crowd pics, or people in background?

How do the media cope with this? Simply not have any photos with more than a few people?

What about things like recordings of live gigs with a large audience?

Re:Wow! (1)

bioglaze (767105) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800975)

I don't know about Sweden, but here in Finland you can't publish a photo if the _subject_ of that photo does not give you a permission. So you can publish crowd pics etc.

Re:Wow! (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801043)

I think it's the same in the UK.

Many concerts I've been to have had a note on the ticket saying you accept you might be filmed as part of the crowd.

This article [timesonline.co.uk] from the Times says Google would probably be legal in the UK doing the city view thing, except:

Otherwise he said the company could be in breach of Britain's data protection laws by inadvertently revealing private information such as visits to a brothel or hospital. "They would have to be unlucky," he said. "But I bet somewhere along the line they will be unlucky."

Wait wait wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20801101)

Hospital I can understand, but Britain has laws protecting the privacy of people visiting brothels?!

Re:Wow! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20801187)

Why do you care? Stop asking worthless questions just because you're bored. Go read a book, fly a kite, bang a chick, anything!

FUCK YOU! YOU DAMN COMMIE! GET OUT OF USA! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799915)

You are the kind of people Joseph McCarthy hates most. You fucking grow up in America and then betray us and go to live in commie-socialist Canada! NEVER COME BACK!

VOTE GEORGE W. BUSH in 2008!

Write in the man!

Re:FUCK YOU! YOU DAMN COMMIE! GET OUT OF USA! (1, Redundant)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799939)

Mod parent funny :).

Re:FUCK YOU! YOU DAMN COMMIE! GET OUT OF USA! (1)

the roAm (827323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800081)

Yes, actually, I am a socialist :)

Re:FUCK YOU! YOU DAMN COMMIE! GET OUT OF USA! (1)

Curtman (556920) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801539)

Yes, actually, I am a socialist :)

You'll like it here then. Socialism isn't a curse word, neither is Liberal.

What part of the country are you moving to?

That and toplessness.... (5, Funny)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800401)

Not only that, decent privacy laws, but in the province of Ontario women are allowed to go topless in public. Pitty it is soo cold that no one really does.....

Re:That and toplessness.... (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800637)

(not to mention lots of mosquitos in summer, at least up on Go Home Lake.)

But if women ever go topless outside of mosquito season, watching them should be rewarding (.Y.)

-b.

Re:That and toplessness.... (1)

PezJunkie42 (837065) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801215)

I dunno, from what I hear there is no shortage of topless women in Windsor, Ontario.

Er... you said "in public"... nevermind.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800717)

Welcome.

As another leftist American who moved to Canada, here's something it took me a few years to realize: in Canada, one shouldn't be afraid to vote for who one really wants, even if they have no chance of winning. Every vote for the NDP or Greens (or the Work Less Party or Marijuana party) gets them more money for the next campaign and more exposure.

And when, say, the Liberals see that the Greens are drawing votes from them, the Libs just put some of the Greens' issues in their platform and the issue gets taken care of, which is the most important thing.

Also, it's no use being scared into voting for the Liberals so that the Conservatives don't win. The Conservatives aren't that bad, and the Liberals aren't that good.

Birth day/month on Manitoba license plates. (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801515)

Just watch out for Manitoba. The day/month of birth is on the license plates of the vehicle owners. Actually, + 4 months - 1 day. That is the expiry of driver licenses, and Manitoba Public Insurance and the provincial government had a great idea of syncronizing vehicle issurance renewals with the driver licenses (it saves time!). But, they forgot that

    birth_date on license plate

which I think they know is wrong, is about that the same as

    birth_date + 4 months - 1 day on license plates

first, I was told that "computers would get confused by randomized dates" and that "randomized dates are not even distributions" to later "it is the law to renew then".

source: http://mpi.mb.ca/english/insurance/i_faq.html [mpi.mb.ca]

search for "anniversary day"

Re:Birth day/month on Manitoba license plates. (1)

Curtman (556920) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801561)

Just watch out for Manitoba. The day/month of birth is on the license plates of the vehicle owners.

So why is my MPIC renewal in September and my birthday in May?

Why not do the same in the U.S.? (5, Interesting)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799927)

If they have the technology, why wouldn't they do the same across the board? It's not as though there's added value in seeing someone's face or license plate. The article doesn't mention anything about this.

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (2, Interesting)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799943)

Probably because it costs quite a bit of computing time to recognise faces and number plates in gajillions of images... It's all about money in the end.

p.s. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE SWITCH OFF THAT FUCKING DELAY BETWEEN POSTS!

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800293)

Probably because it costs quite a bit of computing time to recognise faces and number plates in gajillions of images... It's all about money in the end.

I don't know, this seems like a prime task for Amazon's mturk [wikipedia.org] . How much can someone do in an hour? At $1.20/hr, that comes to ... ?

p.s. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE SWITCH OFF THAT FUCKING DELAY BETWEEN POSTS!

Sure, once they turn off advertising for subscribers :-P

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800325)

Cost is one thing, but you also have to think about benefit. On the basis that information is power, having more information gives Google users more power. For example say you look at photos and you spot someone coming out of the police station who you thought was helping your gang and was supposed to be somewhere else. Now you know he's an informer and can kill him or beat him up. Only Google customers will be able to do this, so Google becomes more valuable for people who like to breach other people's privacy.

Google has a duty to it's shareholders. If US law allows them to screw over other people for the benefit of their customers then not doing it would be evil. Note that they even already provide a way for their own customers to request that photos are blurred out. This gives a win-win situation. Customers never know they are being endangered (if they do they just get it blurred) and don't feel troubled whilst at the same time gaining information and power over others (e.g. MSN users)

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (1)

RajivSLK (398494) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799945)

Perhaps it takes a lot of time and money to go through all the photos and blur people and plates. Or, perhaps, the technology isn't that great and they want to test it out on Canada first.

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800265)

> Or, perhaps, the technology isn't that great and they want to test it out on Canada first.

I couldn't help flashing on some bizarre SF scenario where the "technology" somehow "backfires" and ends up modifying actual reality.

Ouch.

I think I need help, I guess I've been reading Slashdot much too much recently...

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799953)

That's the problem, though. The article implies that Google doesn't have the technology as yet, and are trying to sort out methods of dealing with the issue. That's probably why it didn't occur to them to do it in the first place.

If it ends up being something that they can automate, like the algorithms that were being developed a few years back to differentiate between porn and other images, then I imagine they'll apply it to their whole database. If it requires serious man-hours with Photoshop's Blur tool, then the States are probably SOL.

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800051)

The article implies that Google doesn't have the technology as yet, and are trying to sort out methods of dealing with the issue.
Technology? There is a simple low tech solution to this. Take their board of directors and everyone associated with this project, line them up, drop their pants, bend them over and insert every one of their cameras. Problem solved.

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801383)

Take their board of directors and everyone associated with this project, line them up, drop their pants, bend them over and insert every one of their cameras.

They did that. You can see the photos here [google.com] .

Why intentionally destroy information? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799955)

Paranoia is not an acceptable answer. Google is capturing pieces of history that will last far longer than either your irrational embarrassment or your life.

This is no different from censoring YouTube videos for the King of Thailand. Superstitious peccadilloes and emotional censorship should only be respected where it's the law of the land. Period.

Re:Why intentionally destroy information? (3, Insightful)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799969)

Don't worry. Google won't be destroying anything...

Re:Why intentionally destroy information? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799989)

I don't think anyone would object to Google keeping the original images. After 100 years, I doubt anyone would care if they were made available to anyone who wants to look.

There are massive advances being made in recognising faces -- i.e. combine Facebook or Flickr with a tagged photo of someone, and you could then find them on the street in New York in the Google picture. That's why people have the right not to be photographed and have their image broadcast.

(Thankfully, I'm in the UK, and the EU and the UK have strict privacy laws.)

Re:Why intentionally destroy information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800603)

...and when the technology exists to interface organic visual data feeds with network technology? What then? The "right" of people not to be seen by others?

If you're scared of showing your face in public, you're free to wear a facemask and hat.

Re:Why intentionally destroy information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800843)

(Thankfully, I'm in the UK, and the EU and the UK have strict privacy laws.)


BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Wave to the street-level camera network next time you take a step outside, chump.

I'll take open access to this sort of technology over government monopoly any day. Sousveillance can be quite a hindrance to abuse.

Re:Why intentionally destroy information? (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800951)

I'm pretty sure in the UK we don't have that right, at least, the media can take pictures without getting permission from everyone appearing in the shot.

Re:Why intentionally destroy information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800107)

Some information should never be collected. Regardless of what some seem to think, there is some reasonable expectation of some level of privacy while in "public" and there is no reason to reduce that level of privacy. In the 50s if anyone had tried such nonsense there would have been riots, especially if they tried to put them on the local version of Lover's Lane.

Re:Why intentionally destroy information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800629)

Some information should never be collected.

Good luck with that, Canute.

Re:Why intentionally destroy information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800671)

In the 50s if anyone had tried such nonsense there would have been riots

In the 50s if a black person used the wrong fountain they'd be lynched. Obviously social standards change.

Live in the present. Humans survive by adapting. This curiously RIAA-esque attitude is odd to see on Slashdot.

RIAA-esque attitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800753)

Yep, when it's your own intellectual property under threat I guess you tend not to be so cavalier about the whole duplication rights issue.

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (5, Insightful)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800027)

A more important question is why doesn't the US have these laws?

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800311)

why doesn't the US have these laws?
Are you kidding? Why would it?

Everybody knows that the US is one of those countries where you have to vote for either wing of the governing two-wing status-quo-conserving party if you want your vote to count, and where the government has a security police that can take away your rights at the flip of a hat if they decide to consider you a threat.

Why would the US suddenly have strong privacy rights? How would that facilitate the work of the government's security police?

Of course in the US these things are sugar-coated in somewhat different ways than in other countries that have similar arrangements. In the US the terminology is emotionally charged in ways that will appeal specifically to the American temperament. So the government's security police is called Department of Homeland Security, and the suspicions that take away your right will invariably mention Terrorism.

But that's just sugar-coating over the same old ugly mess.

Mod parent funny! (0, Troll)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801131)

I just *love* comical hyperbole!

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20801397)

Because....

In Soviet Amerika, Google* searches YOU!

*Bush and the NSA...

Re:Why not do the same in the U.S.? (1)

shma (863063) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801093)

Because it's costly and no one's asking them to do it.

Using what filter? (3, Interesting)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799985)

The Japanese blur their porn, and so someone has invented a device that removes it and restores the original image. This is possible because it performs a transformation from a limited set every time and so all you need is one clean sample.

If Google does the same you would need to find a photo that is probably of someone you have an image of once (or at worst a few times - hardly a problem when you consider the collaborative effort available) and the set up a un-blurring filter that would work with all their images.

These problems have all been solved - using a cryptographic RNG as a noise source for example - but they require more computing power and so it would be very tempting to save money by taking a short cut.

Re:Using what filter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800045)

The Japanese blur their porn, and so someone has invented a device that removes it and restores the original image. This is possible because it performs a transformation from a limited set every time and so all you need is one clean sample.
Why would the Japanese blur their porn? Who wants to see burry porn? Why is it even necessary as all Japanese people look alike?

Re:Using what filter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800171)

It's only on genitals. But interestingly, it even applies to hentai, that is, where no real humans are involved anyway. I've always wondered WTF when it comes to Japan in general.

Re:Using what filter? (0, Flamebait)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800315)

You have the same idiocy in the western world. Try selling a magazine with hand drawn child pornography fantasies.

Re:Using what filter? (1)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800945)

I am sorry to break the news to you but blurring out genitalia in porn with two consenting adults as actors and the prohibition of selling drawings of child pornography fantasies aren't even remotely comparable.

Re:Using what filter? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20801343)

It sounds like your metric for comparability is a moral judgment rather than anything objective. How are the two comparable? "Blurring out genitalia in porn with two consenting adults as actors" and "the prohibition of selling drawings of child pornography fantasies" are both examples of politicians with great puritanical zeal proscribing activities that directly harm no one.

Re:Using what filter? (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800091)

Goodness. I really don't think so. Porn reconstruction is easy: nipples are nipples, groin bits are groin bits. They're generally soft tissue that is easily deformed, they're not that recognizable as belonging to a specific to individual, and no one cares if they're a bit distorted in reconstruction.

Faces: oh, my goodness, faces are a different story. Facial recognition is deeply wired into the human brain and human behavior, one of the first skills an infant learns is whom their parent's faces belong to and what their expressions mean. Blurring them, then restoring them in a reliable enough way to recognize them reliably seems quite awkward, and computationally quite expensive.

Re:Using what filter? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800159)

If I understood the GP, then you didn't :)

The theory being put forward is that if the filter is not a 'one way' filter, then it wouldn't be too hard to get the actual original data back again. eg if the filter worked on a 2 x 2 matrix, and it said 'swap the points at 0,0 and 1,1, and the points at 0,1 and 1,0', then all of the original data is still there, just moved around. If you can figure out the translation (eg if you have a copy of the original and the blurred copy) then you can reconstruct it. If, however, the filter was something like 'take the average of all the points in the matrix and set the whole matrix to that value', then you've lost information and can't go back (except in crime shows).

That being said, i'm sure that google will have thought of these things. They haven't gotten where they are by being stupid!

Re:Using what filter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800273)

The technical term for that is "deconvolution" [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Using what filter? (1)

wfberg (24378) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800189)

Or... you could just use a black square. Definately loses information.

Re:Using what filter? (1)

MidnightBrewer (97195) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800301)

I seriously doubt that somebody has invented a device that allows you to restore digitally masked footage. First of all, where does the clean sample come from? Second of all, those digital squares are a bit large; while you could manage to perhaps create a fuzzy, oddly greyish looking bit of genetalia, it would lack any realistic detail. Maybe in a Hollywood sci-fi movie, but not in real life. I've seen Japanese porn, and I've worked in television effects for more than ten years; this is definitely news to me. Degrading, easy; bringing it back? Holy grail territory, there. You could make a fortune with software like that.

Re:Using what filter? (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800687)

Don't tell Dr. Jones about this. [dheera.net]

The example isn't a photo, but I don't think it's inconceivable to apply similar techniques on blurred photographs.

Re:Using what filter? (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800761)

Second of all, those digital squares are a bit large; while you could manage to perhaps create a fuzzy, oddly greyish looking bit of genetalia, it would lack any realistic detail.
Yes, but in case of video/film, you have multiple frames, and if something is moving linearly (but not deforming or rotating) in a given direction- or alternately if the camera is panning in the opposite direction- then if the block coordinates are fixed relative to the screen, you should theoretically be able to get higher resolution in the direction of motion using some maths.

For example, in frame 1, block (0,0) is made up from object coordinates (0,0), (1,0), (2,0), (3,0) and block (1,0) from coords (4,0), (5,0), (6,0), (7,0).
In frame 2, block (0,0) is made up from object coordinates (1,0), (2,0), (3,0), (4,0) and block (1,0) from coords (5,0), (6,0), (7,0), (8,0).
In frame 3, block (0,0) is made up from object coordinates (2,0), (3,0), (4,0), (5,0) and block (1,0) from coords (6,0), (7,0), (8,0) and (9,0).

It should be mathematically possible to figure these out *or* by following the moving object and averaging multiple frames (effectively, the "blocks" are moving) you get the original hi-res object back. (In fact, I suspect that the human eye would do this if the object was moving fast enough).

This is of course theoretical (although it's still practical if a dangerous regime wants to find out which dissident is hiding behind some blocks), and would require some artificial intelligence to track stuff, estimate the quality of the data and re-interpolate these pseudo-static images back into moving objects. But it seems possible to me.

Re:Using what filter? (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800361)

I would expect that that wouldn't be too much of a problem.

Google isn't letting people just browse it at will; such an algorithm (assuming it is possible with the method Google uses) would require the end-user to take an action on their part to view this private info. The end-user would then be guilty of the privacy violation, and there is clear intent because they applied the algorithm.

- RG>

Re:Using what filter? (1)

Mike1024 (184871) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800385)

The Japanese blur their porn, and so someone has invented a device that removes it and restores the original image. This is possible because it performs a transformation from a limited set every time and so all you need is one clean sample.

You realise that several (Japanese, I think) blurring algorithms are specifically designed to be reversible [vector.co.jp] , right?

Properly designed blurring filters cannot be reversed so easily! Alternately, instead of blurring, they could just use black squares [dheera.net] to cover stuff up.

Re:Using what filter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800493)

I was under the impression that it was delibarately designed to be reversible.

What about Canadians abroad? (2, Interesting)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800073)

Maybe Google should adapt their filter software so it blurs the face of anyone with a Canadian flag patched attached to themselves ;-)

Re:What about Canadians abroad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800665)

Canadian privacy laws apply to *Canada*, not Canadians. When abroad, everyone must follow the laws of the country they are in, and likewise cannot expect any additional rights granted by their own government to apply to the foreign country.

OT: Hmmm... the captcha below says "atheism". I wonder if it shows special words on Sunday?

Do the CIA get a reverse filter? (2, Interesting)

allcar (1111567) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800151)

Given the way that Google caved in to the Chinese demands [bbc.co.uk] , will they supply the CIA with a means of undoing this blurring? You would hope they would make it a one-way process, but that probably requires cryptography, hence computing power, hence money.

KISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800255)

You would hope they would make it a one-way process, but that probably requires cryptography, hence computing power, hence money.

Black bars wouldn't require cryptography or computing power.

Re:KISS (1)

allcar (1111567) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800269)

True, but it makes everything look very sinister. I doubt if that's what Google are trying to achieve.

Re:Do the CIA get a reverse filter? (1)

fromeroj (1164387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800545)

"that probably requires cryptography, hence computing power, hence money" Cryptography is useful only when you need to be able to restore the data. Assuming they don't need/want to restore the data. it is trivial to make a perfectly irreversible one way function like a constant function (which is suitable if the area is small). or colour average on absolute coordinates.

Re:Do the CIA get a reverse filter? (1)

MalHavoc (590724) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800639)

They'll probably just provide the original photo to the law enforcement agencies, so there's no need to deal with technology that reverses the blurred image. It's not like Google or the CIA is really crying out for disk space. Heck, if they had enough computing power, they could do the blurring in real time and not worry about keeping an original copy for law enforcement.

Re:Do the CIA get a reverse filter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800851)

You're an idiot. Especially since Google was the only search engine that told the government to fuck off when it asked for search queries.

What, Where is Candida (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800179)

I am form the united states so go easy.Were is this cuntry? I am wanting to now.

Once again Canada beats US (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800233)

They're bigger than us and on top: if this was prison we'd be there bitch.

The Privacy Commissioner is Wrong (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800249)

At least, as it concerns Ontario, where there seems to be no right to privacy from being photographed in a public place for commercial purposes. See here [ambientlight.ca] .

Re:The Privacy Commissioner is Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20800895)

It does concern Québec though.

Why not paste other faces on ? (3, Interesting)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800261)

Looking at a scene with blurred out faces will detract from the view, humans are very sensitive to problems with faces.

Google should find people who are willing for their faces to be used this way. Using the same face would be kind of disturbing, so a selection of faces would be needed, perhaps to roughly match the face that is being replaced (hair colour, race, sex, ...).

Think of the fun that we could have: a kind of Google powered Where's Wally [thegreatpi...hunt.co.uk] .

There could even be a market for this: budding politicians, wannabe starlets who might pay to have their face become recognised or become familiar.

Re:Why not paste other faces on ? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800305)

Temuera Morrison [imdb.com] perhaps?

Canada does America better. (4, Insightful)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800473)

America is dead. Nothing to see here. Vote for either party, buy a big mac cause all is well. You need not worry, the US government is taking care of everything for you.

Re:Canada does America better. (5, Insightful)

bendodge (998616) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800987)

No, vote for Ron Paul!

Re:Canada does America better. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20801211)

Why don't you leave for sunnier shores then, huh? I'm sure there are so many who'd follow you out. So many who believe their country is dead, and that they probably should be part of the mass exodus that is so obviously draining the US population. Then you can all continue to busy yourself complaining about what you don't have while the rest of us are busy appreciating what we do have.

How? (4, Funny)

c (8461) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800691)

License plates shouldn't be a problem, but how does the algorithm know Canadians from non-Canadians?

Re:How? (1)

aedil (68993) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801059)

Obviously, laws like this apply to the people in the country, not to people of a certain nationality. The interesting part of these laws is they usually offer equal protection to *anyone* in the country, not just citizens. So, I'd be willing to bet that Canadian law prohibits the publication of recognizable images (without consent) of even a tourist.

If you drive to Canada from the US, and your car gets broken into, it won't matter that it isn't a Canadian car, or that the car isn't owned by a Canadian. At least, not to law enforcement. The person breaking into the car might of course take the license plate into consideration :)

Re:How? (1)

c (8461) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801559)

> Obviously, laws like this apply to the people in the country, not to people of a
> certain nationality.

I know. I just thought it was a better question than "what's with the lousy slashdot headline?"

It does raise the question about what they're going to do about images taken outside of Canada being shown to Canadians, and whether they'd really be breaking the law for showing uncensored pictures of Canadians in Canada to non-Canadians (i.e. does privacy law kick in when the pictures are taken, or when they're viewed). TFA was a little weak on that stuff...

c.

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20801349)

All faces are posted on Hot or Not. Then after using Hot or Not's extensive scientific process a person is thus determined to be HOT (Canadian) or NOT (a visiting American). Then google blurs their images.

Re:How? (1)

loconet (415875) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801479)

It looks for the people drinking a douple double. Duh!

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20801531)

Canadians are the ones with flapping heads.

Re:How? (1)

freeweed (309734) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801573)

Flapping heads.

A better method than blurring (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800713)

A better method than blurring, and irreversible, is to substitute someone else's face, scaled to the same size. They could use CmdrTaco's mug shot.

It's called CENCORSHIP (-1, Offtopic)

E++99 (880734) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800829)

It doesn't matter if it's information that YOU don't want to be easily accessible, information that the religious right doesn't want to be easily accessible, information that the U.S. government doesn't want to be easily available, or information the the Canadian government doesn't want to be easily available. Censorship is censorship is censorship is censorship. You can say you like it, but at least have the guts and the honesty to call it what it is.

Re:It's called CENCORSHIP (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801305)

You're partially right: it doesn't matter whether it's you, a religious group, or a governmental representative. If you're in Canada, you're not allowed under normal circumstances (as a privacy matter) to record information on faces and license plates. Society has accepted a long, long time ago that some information is better kept under the hat. Call it "cencorship" or anything else you want, it's a damn good law.

Re:It's called CENCORSHIP (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801329)

So if I manage to get a picture of you with a penis in your mouth, you'll fight for my right to publish it online in Canada? Good man!

Hey assface! (0, Offtopic)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801369)

Give me your SSN and your credit card number, NOW!

What, you wont?

Why dare you to CENCOR that information!

Vacation pictures? (4, Insightful)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 6 years ago | (#20800927)

So my vacation pictures from our visit to Canada that I posted on my web site are somehow illegal? Public photos of public spaces. Everyone could see those faces and license plates when the pictures were taken - how is this a privacy issue? When you can't make sense of laws anymore, everyone is a criminal.

Re:Vacation pictures? (2, Interesting)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801129)

Depending on where you posted them, and what purpose posting them has, then yes, they would be illegal. I doubt very much that anybody in those pictures is going to make a complaint, but Canadian privacy laws say that you need written consent from everybody who appears in images that you publish. They also say that if you don't get written consent from anybody, then you can't publish them.

It's up to the person whose privacy has been violated to make a complaint and prosecute though.

The thing that separates your website from something like Google StreetView is that in Google's service, a whole lot more people are going to see the images, and there's a whole lot more images, so it's a whole lot more likely that somebody who didn't give consent is going to see their picture. Now most people probably wouldn't have any privacy concerns about it, but what if they publish an embarrassing picture like they've done on the US side? I think we've all seen some collection or another of pictures on Google's service where somebody's caught leering at a pretty girl, or going for a pee on the side of a highway, or walking in front of their window in the nude. All it takes is for one person caught in a compromising situation to notice their picture on Google's service and to make a complaint in order to shut down the service. Depending on how far they're willing to take their privacy complaint, it could actually shut Google out of Canada in its entirety.

It's called "cover your ass". And by blurring license plates and faces, Google can make a claim that the people they're photographing are anonymous. The laws in Canada are there to protect the people, which I know is a foreign concept to Americans lately, but it's one you guys should really consider reexamining.

Re:Vacation pictures? (0, Troll)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801223)

So what you are saying is that my looking at someone doing something embarrassing (like a peeing drunk) in public is illegal? Or if I turn to my wife and point out the person standing naked in their window? If it's not illegal for me to see and if it's not illegal for me to point it out to others because it's in a public space where you otherwise have no expectation of privacy, why would it be illegal in a photo?

canadians are weird (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20801227)

"54%? Sure, tax me to hell and back, but I'll be damned if the volvo I once owned and its former license plate are online randomly in a picture somewhere 4 years from now!"

I just want to say (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20801429)

I saw a Canadian once. I can, er, understand why they don't like to be photographed...

Pictures of a Google van operating in Canada. (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801523)

This is not surprising. On July 14, 2007 at 10:00, I saw this van on the Tadoussac ferry (right here [google.com] ): 1 [205.205.253.95] 2 [205.205.253.95] 3 [205.205.253.95] 4 [205.205.253.95] .

Give me a break.... (1)

bdkraem (1141653) | more than 6 years ago | (#20801579)

I can see the headlines now... "Canadians No Longer Go Outside for Fear of Being Seen" And who really cares if your license plate shows up online. It's not like you can't walk outside and see hundreds at any given time.
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