back to article EFF lawyer is smokin' on Google Street View

Google's Street View service is barely two weeks old and it's already attracted plenty of criticism from privacy advocates. Photographing people up close and without warning as they go about their daily routines and then publishing those images for all the world to see may tread just a teensy bit over the line, they say. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the obivous thing to do would be.......

    Am I the only thinking a lot of this sillyness could be avoided if Google took a sensable approach and pre-warned people this was happening, Just like the highways agency advise us in Blighty that on X date this road will be shut or on X date roadworks will commence for a period of x Weeks.

    All Google have to do is invest in signage in agreement with the yokle authorties advising that this street/district will be photographed on x date (no need to provide a time just the date) as well as talking out bill board posters, yokle rag advertising so all can see.

    Bill Boards/ rag Advertising


    During the month of X Google PLC will be photgraphing the streets of your town, to enhance it's mapping service. please be warned that these pictures are at a street view and may enchroach on your privicy, we advise that residents look out for signs in your area giving you advanced notice of when google is to be in your area, and prepare accordingly, e.g if you residence fronts on to the street, you may want to draw your curtains.

    Our Vans are coloured X with large Google Logos, if you are walking out and spot our Van and do not wish to be seen then hide!! (lol lost the plot, but you get the jist)

    Street Signs

    Google PLC will be photographing This Area on X date(s) between the hours of 9am to 5 pm

    there how easy is that, expensive but easy

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The obvious thing to do

    is if you get forewarning that Google is taking images then make sure everyone in your street goes out in fancy dress.

    Or alternatively we could be facing a whole new form of reflectoporn

  3. yeah, right.


    Google could just cull pictures that have people in them, or at least cull the people (from the pictures, not from the street...). But of course, Google has always been an opponent of privacy, so this latest move is just one of many.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    advance notice

    If Google advertised the areas they're going to photograph in advance, they'd get every nutter & protest group in town showing up. Look what happened when they announced the low-fly photo shoot over Sydney last year! Of course, that might just make Street View more interesting...

  5. Nick Davidson

    Black Bars

    Google should simply do what the government does in the UK with CCTV footage you request, black bar every numberplate and face.

  6. Colin Jackson


    As I understand it Andy, Google just bought the source material in from a third party. In any case, having to pre-warn potential victims strikes me as an expensive proposition, and difficult to organise, and hardly litigation-proof. I imagine the anonymous VW driving round with the panorama-camera strapped to the top according to it's own schedule is a much cheaper proposition.

    On a side note, would it be foolish to admit that the potentially voyeuristic nature of this technology would possibly be the only real interest I would show in this cool but mostly useless technology. After all, if it's about finding your way from A to B, then Google maps (or any other map service) is far more effective than a street-level system.

  7. Rich Silver badge

    Not so obvious

    I have to disagree with the earlier post. Why should the rest of the world change their plans and adjust their lifestyle (eg - avoid that trip into town on Tuesday because you don't want to be photographed) to suite a single commercial company?

    Who should have priority here?

    The comparison with road works is not valid - Road works are just annoying and delay you. They don't actually invade your privacy.

  8. this

    Can't keep up

    I must be getting old, thong bearing is a new one on me. Sounds fun though.

  9. lordasb

    loud speakers

    while not very people friendly, why not do like some pm's do and have loud speakers on the vans, letting people know they are being snapped, then they could all rush out and moon the van !

    thus they could not use it anyway as it would offend someone...

    or even better you could get all the street to sit outside with bill boards and signs telling google where to stuff it...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a far simpler solution

    Everyone should descend on Google headquarters armed with a camerawait outside and start photographing as soon as anyone approaches or leaves the premises.

    Then they should follow the execs and photo them everywhere they go.

    Then you'd see how long this latest Google crap lasted for.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Utterly insane, yet . .

    What is Google supposed to do to ensure that the complainant has a right to complain ? If Google doesn't have a modicum of ID to verify, well then any Tom, Dick & Harry can have any pic removed for the simple reason that they don't like it. I'm not too hot on the idea that I can be snapped in a slightly embarrassing pose, but I'm a lot less hot on the idea that anyone can arbitrarily have a pic removed without any check or balance.

  12. hugo tyson

    Consequence of doing the obvious thing?

    Forewarning people that google will be photographing is a good idea on

    the face of it, by analogy with street cleaning, roadworks and so on.

    BUT I fear it would bring out all the Jackass-wannabes, show-offs,

    pimp-my-ride-winners, flashers, and all manner of angry mobs with placards,

    outside the homes of suspicious-looking loners, certain women's clinics,

    politicians' homes, science research labs, etc. And of course the sandwich-

    board man for the local car dealership, golf sale, and all that advertising.

    "You may wish to close your curtains - after writing FCUK on the

    back of them" ? ;-)

  13. Rob Crawford

    Why should anybody have to take acton to opt out

    Why shoud people have to opt out, or alter their normal lifestyle simple to avoid some companys enterprise ?

    If some person turned up outside of my house and started taking photos of it I wouldn't be too happy about it (I doubt you would be either), so why should I be happy about google doing it ?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Free Advertising

    If there was prior notice to the photo-van coming by, I'd be certain to have a big sign printed for my business.

  15. Mike Knowles



    So - you don't think this might create mass hysteria from Big Brother wannabees and flashers then?

  16. breakfast Silver badge

    Even more obvious

    Problems like this could be easily avoided if Kevin Bankston gave up smoking.

  17. Will

    The obvious thing?!

    Christ, if we did that then on street view wed see every muppet flashing their arse/t*ts etc to get some attention.

    Also just think of the advertising you would see springing up from carefully placed bill board cars etc.

    Its legal to take a picture in public, if its google or your gran taking the photo just accept it

  18. Scott Edwards

    Of course thats an option

    If you fancy all the street view photos being plastered with people turning up at each location to get themselves on there!

  19. Chris Elvidge

    re: the obivous (sic) thing to do would be.......

    Sue 'em. Isn't that what any red-blooded American does when anything goes wrong?

    Start a class-action lawsuit - they've plenty of money.

  20. Ian Ferguson

    Re: the obivous thing to do would be.......

    The problem with that solution, Andy, is that people would present MORE innappropriate scenes, not less. It's human nature...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and the obvious response would be....

    If you gave people warning that Google would be mapping and what the vans looked like people would attempt to become immortalised in digital form with two fingers up at the camera.

  22. Matt


    I don't agree with the last poster, they've got it the wrong way round. Google should be required to get the permission of anyone visible in the picture, and the owner/occupiers of any property visible in the picture.

    They are not the Highways Agency, they are not a public body, they are a company trying to make a profit by abusing my privacy.

    Personally, while I'm on my hobby horse, I also don't agree with the existing google maps. They should be forced to cut back the resolution to the point where you can't see individual people.

    There, I feel better now :-)

  23. Richard

    Of course...

    Of course Google are going to ask for that information. Otherwise, everyone who thought that street-view was a bad idea, not to mention their competitors, could ask for every image to be taken down, without having to prove that they ARE in the image.

    And they did give the benefit of the doubt, taking down the image until they had proof (or a reasonable amount of time had elapsed).

    I'd like to know how reasonable they'd be if, for example, he'd sent some of the things in that list, and said that it would take him longer to get a sworn statement in. Would they have put it back up, or left it down to give him longer to provide the legal justification? That is the proof of reason, not that they require some proof of an infringement!

  24. JamesH


    Like someone else said - ITS LEGAL TO TAKE PICTURES IN PUBLIC.

    Do you want to ban cameras or stop people taking their holiday snaps and posting then on Photobucket or where ever? That's exactly the same as what Google are doing, but with less least with the Google effort you can ask for stuff to be removed.

    So live with it.


  25. amlendu

    Another solution Censor bar glasses

    Google should issue these for free before photography

  26. Phil Endecott

    Legal to take pictures in public? No, not necessarily.

    A couple of people have written


    Well, hmm, is it? That depends on what country you're in, what is in the pictures, and what you do with them. Have a look at this story:

    and a few greek plane-spotters might also have something to say about it...

  27. Rob Crawford



    hey why not post your address and everybody can come around and takes photos of you and publish them all over the internet.

    Betteer still possibly wel will wait til you are doing something you shouldn't (or embarrasing) and then just post those pics ?


  28. J Thompson

    They aren't holiday snaps

    It's not illegal to stand in the street and take photos with you camera, this is true, but you can't say that what Google is doing is exactly the same. Anyone capable of moral judgement must see that it just isn't.

    Okay, so someone can stick their photos of you onto Photobucket or Facebook, but that isn't in the same league as been digitally immortalised having a wee by the side of the road, or dancing in your front room.

    It seems to me that Google are relying on technicalities to maintain a service of questionable merit and ethics.

  29. Connor Garvey

    Sue The Reg

    Is it any different when you, The Register, re-publish these pictures? How about the countless hours of street footage shown on news programs, reality TV shows and YouTube? What about sites like Blogger, Flickr and Yahoo! Photos? Seriously. Get a sense of perspective. It seems you just love to hate Google. Could it be envy?

  30. Harry Stottle


    Remember yesterday's story?

    I'm guessing, so someone with a bit more understanding of their concept should set us straight. But it seems to me that this technology (or something like it) will eventually supercede "single snapshot" approaches. It will combine, for example, all available photographs of Main Street, Hicksville into one glorious easily navigated 3d high res virtual model. But it would - and here's the guess - only incorporate those features into the model which were common to the available images. Result, transient stuff like people and traffic simply wouldn't appear.


  31. Mark


    This definitely 1984'ish...

    Take a look at this guys list of close to 400 Google Street View privacy invasions:

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Real question

    What's the real issue here? Why doesn't Google or any other mapping co just plan their drive by's at early or late hours (considering sun light etc) when their are fewer people on the street and then remove humanoids post launch?

    What does Google benefit from having these people in the pictures? Seems to me it's more trouble than it's worth, just take the people out before hand and avoid the issue altogether. Having Joe Lawyerdude smoking on a street in San Fran does not generate $1 in extra income for them.


  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    back to earth with a bump

    LMAO i totally didn't think about all the people who would like to descend down to a google photo shoot point well made. I guess Father4justice would be the first in there, along with PETA and CNLA.

    I didn't know about the Sydney thing I'll google that in a bit and have a laugh.

    On the point of legality, i vaguely remember once when suffering from a spate of random car vandalism on my street when talking to the boy's in blue about CCTV, they said fine as long as it didn't point directly towards another houses window.

    I'm back off to planet Utopia with my tail between my legs, maybe i could get a new job in a Strategy Boutique, and leave ITSM, something to ponder about on the journey back.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I forgot to say.. RE:Maybe...

    To a degree I agree about Street maps being a bit fancy and pointless, however there has been the odd occasion when doing a routefinder say with multimap and then double checking with a normal map, I've been sent to the wrong area only by a few streets, having a street view would have given me a chance to verify that indeed I am being directed to the right place, this has happened to me twice in 3 years and caused me to be late even when I've double checked the address and postcode.

    opps shuttles about to leave best be off

  35. Dave

    Legality of this in the UK

    As I understand it, the position in the UK is somewhat different: if you (as the photographer or their employer) will capitalise from pictures of people or property that is not yours, you are obliged to obtain a Personal or Property Release. This is a document drawn up between you and the subject (or its owner in the case of property, natch.) that formally gives you the right to use the images within the contraints noted in the document.

    There are limits; if the picture is of a general nature and one would naturally expect individuals to be in the same scene (think of a reporter walking down a street in a 'high street bank' story), then that's acceptable - would this get Google off the hook? Yes - if they obtained permisson from the buildings owners for each property they had clear, identifiable pictures of.

    Personally, I'm looking forward to it; I could do with the windfall!

  36. Darkwolf

    Next step in GPS

    Maybe this is the next step in GPS, you currently have a top down view, but imagine if you could have a street vew?

    Much less confusing , especially if they perfect overlays onto a windshield.

  37. Joe

    Re: Next step in GPS

    "...overlays onto a windshield."

    Excellent! Then we don't have to bother going anywhere either, we can just sit in the car and pretend! Global warming is stopped, thanks to Google! ;D

  38. Clerice

    Google Street View sights

    I added here the best Street View

  39. A J Stiles

    Greek Plane Spotters

    Since the UK and Greece are both members of the EU, we are forbidden by treaty to keep secrets from one another. So how could any Briton possibly ever have been charged with espionage against Greece? Something about that story didn't add up.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cloak of invisibility..

    If you don't want to appear on Street View just make sure you always wear a t-shirt and baseball cap with huge Yahoo! logos on them.

  41. Anthony Bathgate

    I don't see how this is any different...

    Than the local news crew sending their 11ty reporters "ON LOCATION" to some absurd parking lot to look at the traffic, or to document the comings and goings at a quickie mart on the morning show. Or do they only do that in Baltimore?

    What about the 10000+ times my car has been captured on camera while I pass a news van, or an overly-enthusiastic landscape photographer, or a store with security cameras, or a construction truck? If you're outside your own walls, you have no protection against being SEEN by any particular member of the public, and this has always applied to cameras as well. If you do something embarrassing, or expose yourself, it's your fault for doing it in public. If you want privacy from being seen, you need to be obscured from public view by opaque objects. This is why we wear clothes, so our privacy is protected by opaque objects.

  42. Clerice

    Cool Google Street View

    I added here the most amazing Street View :

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