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Google Street a Slice of Dystopian Future?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the they-see-you-man dept.

Google 325

An anonymous reader writes "According to a recent CNET article, Google Street View 'is just wrong'. The short piece which makes up part of a larger feature about 'technology that's just wrong' goes on to explain that Google Street View is like a scene from George Orwell's terrifying dystopian vision of 1984 and that it could ultimately change our behaviour because we'll never know when we're being watched. 'Google? Aren't they the friendly folk who help me find Web sites, cheat at pub quizzes, and look at porn? Yes, but since 2006 they're also photographing the streets of selected world cities and posting the results online for all to see. It was Jeremy Bentham who developed the idea of the Panopticon, a system of prison design whereby everybody could be seen from one central point, with the upshot being that prisoners learnt to modulate their behaviour — because they never knew if they were being watched. And that doesn't sound like much fun, does it?'"

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If Google Wants To Watch Me (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638016)

. . . jerk-off to hairy pussy porn, more power to 'em/

Re:If Google Wants To Watch Me (3, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638178)

I own two cats, you insensitive clod!

Re:If Google Wants To Watch Me (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638480)

That's hot.

Re:If Google Wants To Watch Me (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638236)

. . . jerk-off to hairy pussy porn, more power to 'em

Where's the "+1 My Brother" moderator point when you need it.

Bizarre and hysterical rant (4, Insightful)

shankarunni (1002529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638098)

I love it when arts majors try to emulate Orwell and struggle hard to dream up "dystopian" scenarios in anything and everything to appear sophisticated in the eyes of their colleagues..

God only knows we are living in dystopian times, with our society under attack from left, right, and corporate interests which don't fit into any pat category..

But Google street view is hardly a "live view" where neighbors snoop upon each other. It's just a one-time snapshot of a spot. If you happen to be bonking someone on the street just at that moment, and don't want your face (or whatever) on camera, tough. Do it indoors..

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638164)

If you happen to be bonking someone on the street just at that moment, and don't want your face (or whatever) on camera, tough. Do it indoors..
Yeah, but wasn't there something a while back about google street also getting snaps in as high as second story windows and of girls sunbathing?

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (4, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638254)

"Yeah, but wasn't there something a while back about google street also getting snaps in as high as second story windows and of girls sunbathing?"

Citation Needed .... and Pictures if possible.

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638312)

Okay... Here ya go [nytimes.com] You wanna find the google girls, do ya own leg work...

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638508)

I'm more of a breast man...

But if your windows are open, people are free to look in. I love the jump from Cat on window sill to 'knowing what I am reading'.
Logical fallacy for the WIN!

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638798)

But if your windows are open, people are free to look in.
I have a feeling we've gone down this road before, but...
If my curtains are open and I see someone I have the option of closing them or calling the cops. I can expect privacy in my own home. With the Google van driving by unknown to me how do I close my curtains?

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (4, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638804)

1. If google can see into your window from street level then so can anyone else. Amazingly google is not the only entity in the universe with cameras and I'm sure a lot of people make it a "hobby" to take picture through open windows. Hell the "looking into neighbors windows with telescope" thing has been around for how many decades now as a TV plot point.
2. If you sunbathe in public then see point 1 as well.

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638280)

But Google street view is hardly a "live view" where neighbors snoop upon each other. It's just a one-time snapshot of a spot.
For the time being. Technology marches on...

How shall the new environment be programmed? It all happened so slowly that most men failed to realize that anything had happened at all.
- THX1138

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638296)

Yeah I agree. You know what? Somebody could be watching you RIGHT NOW. In fact, I can just look out my window and see some people in the offices across the way that could be looking at me. They could take pictures and post them on the internet! Oh noes! Welcome to the real world, where at some point, a lot of your actions are in the public view. Just ask all those congresspeople that get caught cheating or picking up hookers, ask 'em where their privacy is. The big difference between the government watching you and google watching you is the consequences. What's google going to do with the information, sell you targeted ads? Ohh I'm scared, somebody is watching me and then is going to sell me something. I'm more worried about my ISP cooperating with the NSA without the needs for warrants.

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638406)

What are you trying to say? That just because I think they're all out to get me doesn't mean that they aren't?

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (4, Funny)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638316)

You obviously aren't a member of the Illuminati or you'd know of the secret live update version of Google Street. In fact, this version is so powerful, it's not limited to streets.

I'm watching you right now.

JESUS! Will you put a shirt on that back?

Orwell was Wrong (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638350)

"I love it when arts majors try to emulate Orwell and struggle hard to dream up "dystopian" scenarios in anything and everything to appear sophisticated in the eyes of their colleagues.."

On top of that, Orwell was wrong, the idea of what we hate killing us as a society is so blindingly un-subtle that it will never happen, it's what you (or we) love that will destroy us (Huxley).

Re:Orwell was Wrong (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638956)

Are you trying to say that there's a negative side to porn?

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (5, Informative)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638416)

If you happen to be bonking someone on the street just at that moment, and don't want your face (or whatever) on camera, tough.

Actually, Google Street View has a "report" option that lets users report obscene happenings or persons faces that don't want to be on the site.

Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638942)

When you are outside, people can see you. If you are walking down a street, you have no idea how many people are watching you from behind the windows of any of the numerous buildings you may walk past. This has been true ever since there were cities and windows. The only difference now is that we have cameras.

If you want privacy, go home, remove the battery from your cell phone, and disconnect your webcam.

I will get worried once we have cameras in our own homes which we can't reject and which we can't turn off. Until then, I consider my privacy to be intact.

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (1)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638792)

Agreed. This is just rampant ill-informed paranoia.

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638812)

But Google street view is hardly a "live view" where neighbors snoop upon each other. It's just a one-time snapshot of a spot.
What's more, THIS IS NOT NEW! There are tons of real estate databases out there that have images of most of the houses in urban U.S. areas. Google's novelty here is in making the images available through a map-browsing interface.

Re:Bizarre and hysterical rant (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638828)

I don't think it's meant to be taken seriously. I mean, "a giant audio-visual shark"? And look at the picture. Made me laugh and I (very peripherally) have worked on Street View. Other entries in the competition: teledildonics, films on phones and guitar hero.

Slashdot needs to lighten up, oh, and maybe RTFA from time to time :)

Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (4, Insightful)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638124)

One picture in 6 mos to a year video surveillance does not make. Now those ATM and security cameras that have been around for 20 plus years EVERYWHERE are not scary, but GOOGLE's once a year picture - now thats BIG BROTHER for you... Dodos..

-Em

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (4, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638268)

Or, heck, you can just go to London and be on camera 24/7 outside of your flat.

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638274)

Yup, funny that they think that the 24/7 video system in the UK is not big brother esque.

Honestly anyone that is at all interested in privacy have been screaming and yelling for over a decade now. suddenly some guy that has had his head in the sand realizes that things have changed and screams the sky is falling is newsworthy?

Even in the USA, you are on camera way more than you think. Police cars record 24/7 now. stores, malls, parking lots, street corners.. Cameras are everywhere watching you.

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (3, Funny)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638368)

Yup, funny that they think that the 24/7 video system in the UK is not big brother esque.

But it's for your protection! If the government doesn't know when you're eating, watching T.V., or masturbating, how can they protect you?

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (5, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638442)

Even in the USA, you are on camera way more than you think. Police cars record 24/7 now. stores, malls, parking lots, street corners.. Cameras are everywhere watching you.

The problem isn't surveillance, it's people abusing information gained through surveillance. The solution is to make sure that there are checks on those people tasked with watching security footage to make sure they're not using any of that information in an inappropriate fashion. And the simplest, fastest, cheapest way to do that is to install a surveillance camera in the office of the people who watch surveillance footage.

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (4, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638802)

And the simplest, fastest, cheapest way to [monitor those monitoring surveillance video] that is to install a surveillance camera in the office of the people who watch surveillance footage.
That's an infinite loop just waiting to happen...

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638304)

The difference, as far as I can tell, is that Google's pictures are available to everyone, whereas the ATM cameras are not (coincidentally, many security cameras' feeds can be found on Google).

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638358)

I plan to run naked out in my yard when they drive past.

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (2, Informative)

Gonarat (177568) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638390)

Thank you! I have looked up my house using Google maps and I can still see my in-laws Camper and Truck sitting in my driveway. They sold both several years ago. So unless Google has bought some satellites and has started doing real time of selected cities, I don't think we need to worry quite yet. I would be more worried about cities networked with cameras (like London) where the powers-that-be can follow you around the city. I don't think those cameras are hooked up to Google (yet)instead of a van going through one time per x months and taking video of the streets. When (and if) the THOSE cameras are hooked into Google, then it may be time to worry.

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638478)

cellphone cameras w/ instant uploading are far more intrusive than streetview.
i mean, the fbi can turn on your cellphone microphone for a listen. that's a bit more 1984.
i wonder if they can take photos discreetly from a cellphone too?
http://www.news.com/2100-1029_3-6140191.html [news.com]

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (1)

PacketShaper (917017) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638492)

Mod Parent UP.

Why should we NOT assume we are being watched when we are... (drumroll please) out in PUBLIC???

Besides, people (in public mind you) could do with learning to modulate their (public) behavior a bit... maybe fewer road-rage incidents, child abductions, random acts of violence, robberies, etc.

If you want privacy, close your blinds.

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (5, Informative)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638570)

One picture in 6 mos to a year video surveillance does not make.

True, but it only takes one picture to embarrass somebody, to catch a crime in progress, or to simply show an individual in a location where they're rather it not be known they are. Many people are already aware that Street View captured the results of more than one [jalopnik.com] automobile accidents [google.com] . How would you like to be immortalized [google.com] for riding your bike down the street, unaware that Google just snapped a picture of you showing your jeans riding down your backside?

Security cameras like those in ATM's have very limited visibility & range, and most people know they are there. The contents of those tapes also aren't generally available to the public. They most likely would need a court order to obtain. How would you like it if the whole world could simply go to Google and see a photograph of you walking into a motel with a prostitute, leaving a strip club, getting mugged on the side of the street, or caught in the act of accidentally hitting somebody in a crosswalk with your car? It's that kind of publicity that most people are concerned about.

Given that Google, MSN, etc. are doing this I bet it's just a matter of time before police start mounting cameras on their patrol cars as a means to identify illegal behavior that the officers in the car might miss. How would you like to get a ticket in the mail a week after a police car driving by takes a photo of you jaywalking? That's the sort of thing this could eventually lead to, and that's not what most people want.

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (2, Interesting)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638922)

True, but it only takes one picture to embarrass somebody, to catch a crime in progress, or to simply show an individual in a location where they're rather it not be known they are. Many people are already aware that Street View captured the results of more than one automobile accidents . How would you like to be immortalized for riding your bike down the street, unaware that Google just snapped a picture of you showing your jeans riding down your backside?
Yes and it takes one web form [google.com] to get that one picture removed, unlike millions of pictures snapped by tourists each year that have lots of extra people in the shot that may live forever and you will not even know they have the picture of you online. Evil, evil tourists.

-Em

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638584)

I live in an 18 story building that was recently completed. Google maps still shows it as the parking lot it was over 2 years ago. If that is the best they are willing to do from space (I realize Google Earth might be more current of course) which requires relatively little manpower, then I doubt they will drive down every street often enough to make me too nervous about my privacy.

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (1)

Victor_0x53h (1164907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638612)

I agree, forget Google. Even the ATM and security cameras are a drop in the bucket. What Orwell never though of was that we would do it to ourselves with the proliferation of video, and camera phones.

Re:Yet another panic-y article from no-clue crowd (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638752)

What's funny is that this is exactly the same reaction that people have towards video games, the internet as a whole and comic books. Since it's new it's instantly more worrisome than what's already been there, even if what's already there is pretty bad. It's the well known tendency for people to overestimate the risks of unfamiliar dangers.

Overall this is a good thing, though. People need to be a little worried about online privacy so that they can get up in arms about something that crosses the line. By creating a panic, they're making people look at and evaluate the risk. The next time something happens on the internet, they'll likely evaluate it more accurately.

It could be worse (3, Funny)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638138)

Ok for now (4, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638160)

Google takes a photo like once every 6months. You are NOT being watched. It is NOT a spy camera. You should NOT be doing anything bad visible from the street. If you are jerking off outside on main street as a giant van with cameras rolls by. Well i'm sorry, your well kept secret is out. Points are:

A: They do it from a perfectly public location that many people will pass daily.
B: It is not a surprise, they aren't using spy technology it is a giant google van.
C: No laws are broken, why gang up on google about it, bring it to the house and see what happens (i can't imagine taking pictures outdoors being made illegal).

That's fine if... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638162)

I'm OK with it if we really get to see everyone AND we get to know who is AND _was_ watching who :). That means some logs are kept on the watchers.

Basically it settles who watches the watchers - anybody if they have nothing better to do.

No fair if a Privileged Few get to opt out and we don't.

But it's so static... (3, Insightful)

ecloud (3022) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638172)

A van drives down the streets once and takes pictures. Maybe in a few years they'll do that again. Now if you happened to be in one of them maybe you'd have some feelings about that, but one snapshot of you every few years hardly amounts to a surveillance society.

Why aren't people more optimistic? This is a sort of poor telepresence: you can get a small part of the experience of traveling to some cities without actually going there.

Black domes on the ceilings of convenience stores (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638186)

...do not always have a camera in them. They work on the same principle of providing the possibility that you're being watched.

The effectiveness is probably going to drop significantly when the watched know they outnumber the watchers to such a degree that there's no way to track them all even if they're in view. Whether or not this is useful in a prison would really depend on the cost of implementing this centralized mass-surveillance over adding guards(who would also be on hand to stop what's being seen as well).

Big difference (4, Insightful)

NewAndFresh (1238204) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638190)

The difference between 1984 and Google is that google allows anybody to view the street.
Sorry, google just doesn't feel like "big brother." Nor does it seem to be going in that direction.

Careful there.. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638580)

"Sorry, google just doesn't feel like "big brother." "

A true big brother wouldn't seem obtrusive to most people. Orwell's hero was the exception to the rule.

I do agree with you, since it is a snap shot of a moment in time(redundant, I know) and can't be used for monitoring, and correcting behavior's. PLUS it's done very infrequently, to infrequently to have the effect that mention in the write up.

Fear and power dichotomy (3, Insightful)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638192)

What value is a face with no name, or a street on which you know not a single person? Data only has value when used in conjunction with known facts, and the only people in the end who are going to be burned by such knowledge are the ones who reject it instead of learning how to use it for their own and other peoples' benefits.

Furthermore, at least google has its images of public space open for people to view at all times. If you wanted to look through a government owned public camera do you know where to go, who to ask? Can you even get permission to observe those feeds? There is always a bigger bogeyman lurking around each corner, so at least meet him on your own terms instead of waiting for him to come at you when you least expect it.

Re:Fear and power dichotomy (1)

mrogers (85392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638398)

Furthermore, at least google has its images of public space open for people to view at all times. If you wanted to look through a government owned public camera do you know where to go, who to ask?

That's a good point, maybe Google Earth is more egalitarian than government-controlled cameras, but I don't think it creates a completely level playing field. Governments can get sensitive sites removed from Google Earth [googleeart...places.com] , but can you get your house removed? Instead of making a false choice between government-controlled cameras and Google-controlled cameras, how about rejecting both?

Re:Fear and power dichotomy (1)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638716)

Because there are possible beneficial applications of publicly placed cameras that have no privacy implications when in control of the proper oversight of a public body where no information is restricted or hidden as long as the public has 24/7 unrestricted access to view the content the cameras capture.

I propose you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. I agree though that it is unacceptable for a system to be in place that sacrifices privacy for security be it false or not.

TFA is rather myopic (4, Insightful)

avronius (689343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638198)

I've flipped through the article and the little pictures. It would seem that the authors are trying to put an "It Came From The Deep" feeling against technology [and materials] that they don't currently see a market for or appreciate the market force behind. It's not unusual for people to fear things that they don't understand.

It is, however, unusual for a Tech publication to attempt to use fearmongering as a tool to bring attention to technology that their writers don't fully understand.

I can only hope that this piece was not meant to reflect that attitude of all of the writers over at cnet - it's certainly not flattering.

- Avron

No need to RTFA (4, Informative)

Phylarr (981216) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638200)

Since the whole damn thing is contained in the summary.

It would be nice if the authors had explained why they thought they had a right to privacy when in public, or whether they believed that Google was taking pictures inside people's houses. But I guess a fear mongering rant was what they were in the mood for instead.

Re:No need to RTFA (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638728)

It would be nice if the authors had explained why they thought they had a right to privacy when in public, or whether they believed that Google was taking pictures inside people's houses.

But some of the Street View images CAN in fact see inside houses and other buildings. You'll find just a few examples here [streetviewfun.com] . So what do you do about these peoples right to privacy now? Tell them to keep their doors closed and curtains drawn? Just imagine as the technology used to get these pictures improves. You'll probably get to see a lot more detail of the interior of private homes & businesses in future generations of Street View images. Where should it stop?

Not google's fault (2, Insightful)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638210)

For decades, corporations and government have had the technology to watch us. Google has allowed normal people to see that kind of data. We can now not only see personal details about each other, but also spy on our bosses and "leaders". Google (and search/database technology in general) has an amazing democratic potential.

Re:Not google's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638526)

Isn't this how most totalitarian states have maintained their power- by recruiting regular people to spy on and inform on their neighbors?

Re:Not google's fault (1)

radl33t (900691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638532)

booya

People don't modulate their behavior (1)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638218)

...a system of prison design whereby everybody could be seen from one central point, with the upshot being that prisoners learnt to modulate their behaviour -- because they never knew if they were being watched...
I think the closest thing to this prison is reality tv. The cast is constantly surrounded by film crews and cameras. And one of the common threads in post-show interviews is that the "actors" forget about the cameras. They admit, that at first, they are very conscious of them, and moderate their behavior. However, they inevitably say that after awhile the film crews become part of the background, and that they start ignoring them.

That is a very different issue from whether the cameras should exist. There are very real privacy issues. However, I do not believe most people will change their behavior.

Not worried about it at all. (2, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638224)

I looked up my home address and the Google Street View was off by about 10 house numbers. With that kind of inaccuracy, I'm not worried about it.

You can move it now (2, Informative)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638586)

If your home address is off in Google Maps, you can now move it yourself. Try it, it works!

You can of course use the same feature to hide it, if you are so inclined.

Have you ever... (2, Insightful)

Jikrschbaum (920529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638226)

had a job where you need to drive somewhere you have no clue what the landmarks are etc. As a field tech, street view is a nice bonus. When I can use it I use it. If it reduces my blood pressure a couple points then maybe I get to live an extra year. And besides it is hardly real-time. I don't see protests of businesses that put webcams in their store fronts.

There is already a reduced expectation of privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638228)

Since its a public street, people already have modulated their behaviour.

MEH (1)

TheSpengo (1148351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638252)

People who rant about this are obviously kind of paranoid. There's not much chance you'll be caught on google street view's camera in the first place, and if anyone was specifically looking for a picture of you, I'm sure there are much much easier places to find it than driving around in street view all around your neighborhood hoping that you might have been outside at the time the google car drove by...

Google isn't exactly realtime (2, Informative)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638266)

My apartment is visible on Google Street View, which I found a bit unsettling because the street it's off isn't really a street. But Google drove down it and took pictures. It was on Google Maps, after all. Thankfully my blinds were down that day so you can't see inside, but you can see the outside.

On the other hand, that's one instant of time a good year or so ago. It's not constantly updating. It's not like there are cameras inside my apartment constantly watching me. It's not exactly dystopian, just somewhat unsettling.

Now if it were constantly updating, allowing people to follow my car around, then I would be worried. Otherwise I don't really care.

On the other hand, for the most part, Google Street View is mostly useless. It doesn't really offer any information that you can't get from the satellite view. I frequently go over unknown routes using Google Maps (or Google Earth - same diff) but I have never really found street view to be that useful. There are probably some [google.com] exceptions [google.com] , though.

(The second one is actually worse than it appears on street view, since it used to be a rotary, and they haven't made a complete circuit. Go ahead, try and guess which lane is which from the satellite image.)

Re:Google isn't exactly realtime (1)

Pseydtonne (915547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638498)

Not really germane but I had to thank you for posting the link to that intersection in Arlington Heights. I lived near it and I used to go through it every day on the way to work. The picture doesn't show the blind spot for anyone coming down Park from the north but it still shows enough of the horror.

Yell about gov't, not Google (1)

b96miata (620163) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638278)

There are plenty of cities around the world that have extensive surveillance networks, the worst IMO being London. In DC, there's the network of microphones that were only supposed to be hooked up to gunshot detectors, but hey since they're already there let's use them to supplement our network of video cameras.

Google doesn't care what you do, and they don't have a real time view of it. Your local government may, and this is what we should be fighting against. 1984 and The Right to Read are old hat. Half the stuff described therein is commonplace today. We're onto the next level, where Enemy of the State and 24 are getting closer to reality.

Good AND bad consequences (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638308)

This can have good and bad consequences.

1) Bad behavior will stop, because people won't want to be seen/recorded doing bad things.
2) Good behavior will stop, because people won't want to be seen/recorded doing those things, because a significant number of people think it's bad anyway.
3) Some bad behavior will be reconsidered/redefined as good, because people will realize that everyone does it and it's harmless anyway.
4) Some bad behavior will be encouraged, because enough people want to see it that it will be encouraged/reinforced (Girls Gone Wild).
5) Some innocent behavior will stop, because people look bad doing it (the macarena).

In short, it's complicated.

Wrong information (1)

bdcrazy (817679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638344)

Put in address. Click street view. Notice that the house shown has a street number that doesn't match the address you entered. Unfortunately, too much information, not enough accuracy. Having surveillance that thinks your house was the scene of the crime when it is not is that dystopian future.

TOTALLY different than "big brother". (3, Insightful)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638364)

Google is giving access to StreetView (and pretty much every other service) to EVERYONE. This is NOT the same as some big-brother, 1984 scenario.

Don't you think you would change your mind, maybe just a little bit, if all the surveillance cameras in the UK had a website that allowed you to view everyone, just like the "watchers" ?

My problem is, and always has been, that certain people think they are "higher above" others. That's why you get the classic public "surveillance", where a select few watchers have access to all of the cameras, and no one else.

But what if everyone had access to it? I would be totally for that. It would even the playing field. Not that there's any game to play, but at least we have access to the same technology the big-brother "watchers" had, and that makes me feel like I'm not so much under a microscope, but part of a community.

Google Street Views is NOT the one to attack. Google is doing everything the right way - they're giving us ALL access to information. Isn't that what we want??

Fear Mongering as an artform (1)

visionsofmcskill (556169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638370)

My god man, the oh noes of it all.... First off... does anyone remember amazons A9 system... which also had a street level view attached to a map? Google is great, but they didnt pioneer everything. And i certainly dont remember an uproar about that.

In any case, Orwellian? jeez... Ive found the street level view exceedingly helpfull looking for Real Estate, finding certain stores (from memory) and tons of other things youd be quite thrown off to think would be helpful... Does a single shot of a public treet taken once every (X*years !? interval?) randomly long amount of years somehow constitute an all seeing eye effect that'll oppress the masses under an omnipresent authority?

NO.

If this guy wants to bust out the tin foil hat, look at the MSN maps six satellite real-time triangulating updating app their work on... thats something that can make the average joe wonder if they're being tracked by evil accountant monkeys. Or maybe even making a mention of ... oh i dunno... London insano CCTV setup (and the one they're looking to build out in NYC). Until then... stop link farming add views for dumb articles.

--LionelC

Missed the bus (1)

Protonk (599901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638380)

Wasn't the time to complain about Google's evil street view months/years (?) ago when they introduced it? I mean...it's not like concerns are suddenly no longer valid, they just aren't really topical or 'news' anymore.

I'm torn about Google street view. It isn't like it is filling a valid need (although neither was google earth, but that was cool). I don't have a burning desire to see what the storefront to X restaurant looks like. I should expect that the restaurant will be at the address listed. I could look for my own house or my work, but it seems to me that the marginal cost of providing that service (per road, not per user) is absurdly high. While google earth can populate its database with one purchase of remote imaging data, they need to send out GPS equipped trucks in order to get a single street.

On the other hand...it isn't really violating privacy. It is aggregating information and that aggregation in itself is possibly a privacy violation, but on face, things in public view are not private. If google catches you wanking it on the street corner and you get fired then maybe you shouldn't have been wanking it on the street corner. I am prepared to accept that it is not an unalloyed good. I understand that public information, once converted to an easily accessible form, may cease to be public. If your license plate held your name and address on it instead of a number that resolves to your name and address, you would be much, much less willing to display it. The same may be true here.

but this isn't news.

Re:Missed the bus (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638648)

I love it. I didn't think I would, but being able to see what it looks like as I approach an address is nice, and getting big landmarks is a great way to find the place in case the route mapped out is unavailable for you.

The best thing is that I get my, direction impaired friends to use it, and the don't seem to get lost as often.

Technology doesn't kill people....... (1)

UseCase (939095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638384)

The technology in and of itself isn't the problem, people are the problem. Vehicular homicide is wrong but we are smart enough to blame the irate driver and not the car. Why do we have to put a morality on everything. Google is just creating and innovating so as to stay on top.

1984? (1)

Teflon_Jeff (1221290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638402)

The main difference here is, Google has a proven track record of not being evil. No one raised hell over Google maps showing how you park your cars. Or their initiative to list as many businesses as possible.

Does this have the potential for abuse? Sure, but so does the information you give to your Pizza company for delivery...

http://www.aclu.org/pizza/ [aclu.org]

Oh no! Online for everybody to see!?! (3, Funny)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638448)

That's terrible! We haven't even figured out how to prevent these buildings that are out in the open and easily observable from public places from being seen by every day passers-by. And now we can see them on the internet too? What is the world coming to?

Oh, and open the borders, and photographers should have rights to take pictures of copyrighted works displayed in public.

Kind of late (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638452)

This is sort of a last-year issue.

Last year, I was living in an area of Silicon Valley that was covered by Google's van. There's good coverage of my house. Really good coverage. You can see both cars in the driveway and read the license plates. You can, just barely, see me in profile through a window.

I don't really mind.

You have to be kidding me (1)

nrrd (4521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638460)

Google is the new Panopticon? I think there are far more serious things to worry about. Databases that hold huge amounts of data about you, surveillance cameras, over-reaching government.

I think that the erosion of privacy/anonymity is a real issue, I just don't think Google is the thing to get worked up about.

Wah (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638464)

Google doesn't even own the pictures, they get them from another company, just like their maps. GMaps is just what's displaying it.

Did anyone actually read the rest of the article? (1)

Spasemunki (63473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638506)

To quote Foghorn Leghorn, "It's a joke, son."

The 1960's era horror picture of a screaming teen?? Rating things on a scale of "David Bowie" to "David Blane"? Claiming the internal combustion engine is "just wrong" because it runs on tiny explosions? The article is tongue in cheek. The author is poking fun at unreasonable fears on the one hand, and on the other poking fun at technologies that get on his nerves (Twitter et. al.) by calling them offensive to human sensibility and threats to the earth.

This isn't even an article... (1)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638514)

Its a SINGLE PAGE out of one of those shitty Ten that lists. Jesus fucking christ.

Inevitability (1)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638524)

As much as this dystopian future bothers me, and as much as I fear the use of this information in the wrong hands, I'm beginning to realize that it is inevitable. You probably have a camera in your pocket right now (cell phone) in addition to a real camera you may have, and a webcam that is built in to your laptop. That's three cameras per person in an industrialized city. The government has its eyes too. Private businesses also put up cameras to deter/catch theft.

There are just too many cameras. They are too easy to obtain and deploy. The cost of storing video is hitting rock bottom. It's not really a problem to keep all video produced by a given camera, forever. (Argue this point if you wish, but it is becoming more true every day).

Our problems with copyright WRT the internet are due to the fact that the marginal cost of copying hit zero. Likewise, the marginal cost of obtaining video footage of any given place, at any given time, of any given person, is also heading quickly toward zero.

So, what are we to do? Any attempt to legislate away cameras is doomed to failure. Because the marginal cost is zero, the camera use would just become surreptitious (as the downloading of bits).

I think the only workable response is to accept the fact that everyone has video, and make sure that everyone else has video too. We need to be able to shoot video of public servants, shop owners, and our neighbors, because they sure as heck are going to be shooting video of us. The "no photographs" at customs, museums, art galleries etc must go. It's not a winnable fight for them. Yes, people's behavior will be modified, but I don't see any alternative.

There are a couple of upsides to this...evidence in crimes/trials will improve greatly if cryptographic verifiability can be added. (Human memory sucks) New technologies will allow really cool things like eyeglasses that record everything you see in your entire life, catalog faces, places, and objects, and lets you search an automatically generated database of your own experiences.

-- Bob

Don't worry it's not the end of the world. (2, Insightful)

Higaran (835598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638534)

Maybe it's me but I fail to see how a map so advanced that you can actually see the building you want to go to is bad. Also the whole purpose is not to monitor people, unlike the camera's that the city of Chicago is putting up at pretty much every intersection. It's not like the images from the van's are uploaded instantly and they have one on every block of the city. It really annoys me when people always look at every tech like it's going to be skynet or 1984, tech is basically to make our lives better, that some of it is used for our own survalence then thats just an unfortunte side effect.

Don't be Evil, or will we? (1)

Meat Computer (1249990) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638538)

Hmmmmm. Government/Corporate surveillance cameras are definitely a bigger privacy/totalitarian concern, along with RFID chips. Keep an eye on Google, though. After all, wouldn't an evil entity want to be perceived as benign? hahahhahahha

What a load. (3, Insightful)

Penguin Programmer (241752) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638550)

You've got to be kidding me. Anyone who thinks that Google Street View is like 1984 is a moron.

There are two enormous differences between Google Street View and Big Brother:
1) Google takes pictures for street view every now and then. It's by no means real-time. If someone looks up my address and sees me out mowing my lawn, the only thing they know is that sometime in the past year, I mowed my lawn.
2) Google takes pictures only in public places. Guess what, everyone can see you there anyway, and in many cities you're probably already on an actually live video feed. You're not being watched any more than you already were!

Are there really no better conspiracy theories to post today? Come on.

Re:What a load. (1)

baka_toroi (1194359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638658)

If I had mod points, I'd mod you up. Public space is public

Huh? (1)

DulcetTone (601692) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638556)

Let's outlaw driving down the street, then, as it is even more invasive. The person doing that needn't content himself with an instant, but can stick around until he sees the most intimacy-compromising moment the day offers him (from the street, that is)

tone

Orwell and the modern state (3, Insightful)

end15 (607595) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638560)

IMHO we already live in a dystopian future. It's not exactly Orwellian in nature at this point and it seems that a more critical distinction would need to be made. I don't think that Orwell's control systems were simply about technology, it was much more about how the state used the technology. In San Francisco there are already cameras all over the place. Everything we do is already tracked. Your cell phone has a GPS built into it that can track you at all times. That tracking information may never disappear and could be used now or any time in the future. I'm not saying throw your cell phone out but be aware of what you already have committed to. That said I think it's important that we recognize how the technology is currently used, how it's been abused in the past, and how it could be abused in the future. In the case of 1984 Winston Smith did not have access to the technology, he was only subject to it. In our case we are subjects of the technology but we still have access to it. That alone is an important distinction, and belies a very different program (we're more interesting to marketers than spies). I think it's important to questions Google or any other entity that further erodes privacy in any manner. Who's using it? How is it being used? Can we choose to opt out? When and where can we choose to opt out? Is this patently invasive technology or not? For instance when the NSA hires/forces/steals Googles information on citizens domestically then the use issue becomes something important for the republic to question. I think it's important to get away from our impulsive reactionary response to "Orwellian Future" and start thinking critically about what we are really dealing with. Orwell would write a very different book if he were alive today, and we should start thinking in those terms.

Re:Orwell and the modern state (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638684)

Wow!

Your post is honestly the most intelligent thing I've read on /. in months. Intelligent, thoughtful, and informed.

Good work.

Rebel (1)

Parker Lewis (999165) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638592)

The article author will be instestinated.

A Pointless Rant (4, Interesting)

timholman (71886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638604)

This CNET article misses the point entirely. Google is not, and never will be, the problem. The problem is going to be the following:

(1) The local city government monitoring your car at every intersection and every stretch of road, and mailing you a ticket every time you exceed the speed limit by 5 mph or fail to beat the red light by 0.01 seconds. Go drive around the Phoenix suburbs and you'll see your future. You can pick up half a dozen robo-tickets just driving to the local mall and back.

(2) Every local business and every neighbor on your street recording you every time you go out for a stroll or take your dog for a walk.

(3) Your own spouse/parents/children/significant other putting you under 24/7 surveillance without your knowledge "for your own good".

The "Death of Privacy" scenario is inevitable, thanks to Moore's Law. And it won't be Google or the federal government doing most of the watching - it will be your family members, or the people in your neighborhood, or the folks running the local business nearby, or the city councilperson you voted for, because every one of them will rationalize that no one is really being hurt, and because the technology will make it so easy to do that they won't be able to resist the temptation. You won't be able to stop this trend any more than the RIAA and MPAA can stop unauthorized digital distribution of music and movies.

No, streetview Amsterdam will prove very popular! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638614)

Just be more concerned about anyone offering "Nightmare On Elm Street view" or "Goaste passage view"...

Um... (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638636)

We've always had this... You are watched by everyone else. They aren't really out to get you, but if you act too stupid or do something too annoying then you'll be sorry!

Society works because everyone wants/tries to control everyone else's behavior. Behavior that we don't like, we label as childish, stupid, anti-social, or criminal.

I don't care anymore that we are building God or at least Omnius. God is supposed to observe and control everything. We are far from building God. Omnius was limited to watching all humans, enslaving most of humanity, and controlling them. That's something that I think we could do in a generation or two if we worked at it. Heck, add in RFID, and Omnius could monitor almost all objects.

I'm not really worried about Google or Google Street view as of yet as long as we don't have robots or real AI. The only thing that I really fear is other humans. Other humans will setup the rules for Omnius. Omnius could be a great thing for humanity. It could enslave us for a few thousand years, or breed us anyway the rules were setup.

Omnius isn't just going to pop into existence. It'll be funded and built by people. Humanity is childish, stupid, anti-social, and criminal. Omnius would have a hard task of trying to raise humanity to be adults, relatively smart, social, and non-criminal.

It's kinda funny how we've been evolving our social control devices from little old ladies/shamans to religions, to communism/socialist governments, towards some google government. We will build Omnius on day. I just hope that when we do that we'll have matured that we don't need it as much.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy? (4, Insightful)

glyn.phillips (826462) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638644)

Since when do you have a reasonable expectation of privacy when you are visible from a public street?

I'm going to take a wild guess here: Some folks have never lived in a small town.

for the last time ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638662)

No. If you are in public, you're not in private.

WHAHHATHAHAHAA OMGWTFBBQ?

Ya, that's right. If you are standing in public, on a public sidewalk, in public, you're not in private, you're in public. If you're currently worried that someone may be able to google the fact you were at 1st and Main St at some undated point in the past, why aren't you worried that they can do that NOW by simply following you?

it's not like Google is breaking down your door and taking pictures of your house from the inside.

In short, no it's not anything like 1984, and just for mentioning 1984 you are basically an illogical fuck. Not all security arguments can be won by Orwell'ing the subject.

Is just wrong = tomorrow's norm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22638670)

Gay love, interracial love, marijuana smoking, promiscuity, driving fast, p2p... these were all "is just wrong" items from yesterday.

Today, they're the norm.

Don't fight progress. This "is just wrong" means soon it will be right, and we'll see the ignorance of our past ways. Either that, or our society is dying through lack of values in common. But either way, you won't feel any pain.

Bentham's Panopticon (2, Informative)

l0ss (632200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638766)

While Bentham did theorize the panopticon as a penal architecture, it's important to note that it was also intended by Bentham to be an architecture for the workplace - a disturbing paralell. Regardless, it was Foucault's analysis (and not Bentham's own, which saw the panopticon as an unproblematic moral reformatory) of panoptic architecture that developed the most cogent discussion of how power works (in corrosive ways) within the panopticon. Foucault's discussion has routinely been applied to critiques of IT (perhaps the most well known being Shoshana Zuboff's "In The Age of the Smart Machine"). So while it's nice to note Bentham here, it's probably more true to the spirit of the piece to keep Foucault in mind.

who's watching? (1)

trb (8509) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638784)

how many people are sitting at computers that have mics and cameras trained on them that may be remotely controlled? how many have telephones in their homes and offices with speakerphone mics that may be remotely controlled? how many are using networks where every transaction is logged? how many have tracking systems in their cars? welcome to OnStar [vortex.com] . at least when Google takes street view pictures, they publicize them and share them.

Yet 10000+ nuclear weapons isn't dystopian? (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638808)

They are still there you know. Down in their silos. Waiting to show us all the real meaning of 'dystopian'.

But hey, lets worry about Google Streets.

Just one more camera on the street (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638872)

Google's work only brings one more camera to the street. In most urban areas people are already photographed day and night. Banks, stores, city government, transportation departments, tourists, spy sats. and on and on. Everyone has a camera on me.

Or maybe I'm just paranoid?

Anyway, One more camera won't really hurt that much.

Obligatory Reynolds (1)

SixFactor (1052912) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638880)

"...Come a day there won't be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all. This job goes south, there well not be another. So here's us, on the raggedy edge."

Ironically, found using Google.

Since no one seems to have read the Wikilink.. (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638914)

...its most critical point is this (emphasis added):

The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1785. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the "sentiment of an invisible omniscience."

Bentham himself described the Panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example."

What's important isn't that Google occasionally watches you. What matters is that you do not know when Google is watching you, and that just like a Panopticon prison inmate, you will change your behaviour to compensate for this unpredictable loss of privacy.

If you want to be paranoid (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22638998)

Is there any proof that the FBI wasn't already doing this, and just not letting you see it yourself?
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