back to article Google's Street View spycar clocked in London

It's time to lock up your daughters, and here's why: The roving spycar of Google's Street View has been spotted prowling the mean streets of London... Google's Street View spycar spotted in London Good work there by the undercover missus of El Reg reader Ziad al-Hasso. Doubtless she'll soon be exposed on Street View, as will …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    I think I saw this car today in Edinburgh, I was having a cheeky cigarette at the time at work. I hope the missus doesn't see it.

  2. Steve Cass

    Not just London

    I've seen it over the last week or 2 roaming the streets of Edinburgh.

  3. Craig

    Is this news?

    'Cos my other half spotted one in Birmingham earlier this week :)

  4. Mark Walker


    God help us if it gets out to Essex during the summer - there'll be "ladies" flashing their googlies in every frame!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Don't panic, the school kids will be out soon, and before you know it they will be pelting it with rotten eggs and rocks. Balance should be restored soon.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Also seen in Frankfurt / Germany....

    ... probably caught me looking in disbelief at the strange car passing me in the street while I was out fetching coffee for the boys.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Looks like an Opel, are these spy cars imported from the continent?

  8. Sean Baggaley

    Old news.

    I saw an identical car driving around Brockley (London SE4) a couple of weeks ago, so they've been here a while.

    I'm surprised it's taken this long for a photo to pop up. (I was driving, so I couldn't take a snapshot.)

  9. Matthew Caley

    Seen in the Principality too

    The Google Street View spycar was in Cardiff yesterday, I waved so hopefully will be immortalised acting like a loon on a street corner.

  10. Richard Lubomski
    Black Helicopters

    Also in Leeds

    About two weeks ago this vehicle snooped past my office building... i was gawping at the google bus like a tool... can't wait to see my stupid look in google street view!

  11. Tim


    There's 2 pertinent angles to this, firstly privacy: they are welcome to retain a copy of my image, should they take it, provided they pay the annual fee as outlined in my terms & conditions. They should also contact me for permission beforehand, so I can be sure to be wearing my Sunday best.

    Secondly, I can't help wondering how this vehicle fits in with the recent police, er, crackdowns on people taking photos in public places. Indeed, what if it is driven by a swarthy, bearded, backpack wearing gentleman, or his Brazilian lookalike?

  12. Hans

    Not just London - everywhere

    There must be a flood of them.

    I was caught by one, quite inadvertently, three times last week in my home town.

    Quite discrete, just a plain black hatchback with a single "google" decal on the side doors.

    Huge pylon sporting multiview cams sprouting from the roof is a bit of a giveaway though.

    Thought it was a new Police/DVLA number plate recognition machine at first till it pulled up for a red light. (OK, so it was in the red light district, what d'ya expect?)

    Funnily enough, I was actually talking to my gay lover on a mobe while my other half believes I was at a wireless networking conference in Basingstoke

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Wait until Paris!

    Maybe in one will get burned when it photographs the suburbs.

  14. gothicform
    Black Helicopters

    One law for Google?

    So they are going past schools taking pictures? Past police stations taking pictures? I hope police keep stopping them for being suspected paedo-terrorists or is it ok for Google to go around the streets taking pictures of everywhere when we can't.

  15. andymurd

    Leeds too

    Didn't get a snap of it, though.

  16. Mark

    Middlesbrough too

    2-3 weeks ago my boss drove past the Google car on the A19.

  17. Ivan Headache

    how long .....

    before the driver (or crew or whatever is inside) get arrested for taking pictures of buses? (or heaven forbid, children walking in the street)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Google can take pics where ever the hell they want...

    ... and post them all over the internet without so much as a by-your-leave-guvnor!

    Why don't the plods stop them? Can't have something to do with them being a Mega corp?

    Perhaps I should wear a Google hat and t-shirt next time I'm out taking pictures in a public location.

  19. Carl

    Construction and Use?

    Surely an ordinary car with a contraption that size on the roof can't be legal in the UK?

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Someone tell the police ....

    That any terror-bent psychos can simply look up all UK infrastructure on Google - Maybe if they realised that one of the biggest internet companies on the planet has already done a bigger job than any small 'cell' could do then they would lay of us photographers/videographers.

    I will personally give £500* to the first El Reg reader who snaps the Googlebug car, cameras and operator getting confiscated/arrested. What a laugh that would be!

    *T&C's apply: Anon

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Mark

    I'm sure they were just going through Middelsbrough to get somewhere else. I mean, would anyone ther actually know how to turn on a computer let alone access Google Street View.

  22. Nick Hill


    Like the other poster - why a UK (London - Wimbledon 2008) registered Opel? Perhaps from Eire?

    Why does this sort of stuff even bother me!

    Need a lie down.

    Mine appears to be the anorack....

  23. John D. Wilson
    Black Helicopters

    Paisley Too!!!

    Spotted in Paisley

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how long before it's on though?

    My neighborhood only recently appeared in streetview but the pics look to have been taken in the October/November timeframe.

    They obviously swooped in unnoticed, as there's nobody in view, and thus nothing interesting to see.

  25. Pete

    Re: Opel and Re: legality

    AC - the continental Opel is the same thing as the UK Vauxhall.

    Tim - the owner of a photograph is the photographer, not the subject. The only case where it gets more complicated is in private property, which the streets of $UKcity aren't.

    Police appropriation of stuff also isn't relevant unless they're loitering, which is a bit difficult not to do when you're stuck in London queueueueueueues...

  26. shaun


    Aren't there enough cameras in London already, surely they could just get some shots from those instead of this silly enterprise......unless the camera's already there are crap......

  27. Eddie

    Quick question...

    I wonder why the Police aren't cracking down on these potential terrorists and paedophiles as all photographers are nowadays, the police have told us this so IT MUST BE TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!22221111.....

    ah, who needs the twatotron

  28. Craig

    Where do I claim the £500?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ Hans

    You're other half called the conference - I managed to cover for you. Was stuck on the Basingstoke bpass for hours trying to get home.

    paris? 'cos she'd probably bypass Basingstoke too.

  30. Eddie Edwards
    Paris Hilton

    Owner of photographs?

    "the owner of a photograph is the photographer, not the subject"

    That'll be why models sign release forms ...?

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. lansalot


    It was in Inverness last week, never saw it myself (so nothing to tell the grandkids about), but various friends did.

    Curiously, some odd-shaped aerial-looking devices popped up on a few lampposts at the same time. Still not got to the bottom of that one....

    Like an inverted capital F, they are cable-tied on. Any ideas, helicopter-watchers ?

  33. Anonymous Coward


    'Police appropriation of stuff also isn't relevant unless they're loitering'

    So you mean that as long as when I want to take photo's in public as long as I am walking or running or if I don't stop to look at the pictures I've just taken on my camera or playback some video then nothing will happen to me!

    I thought nothing would happen to me because it was the law!

    Thanks for your reassurances - though it's a brave man who chooses blind faith and puts them to the test!

    Coat - the one with the SD memory cards, spare batteries and mini DV tapes in the pockets (well - they were in the pockets before the police went past the coat rack .....)

  34. Rob Jones

    Also spotted in Telford...

    ...looking lost whilst driving around the town centre.

  35. Colin Jones

    Seen (and snapped) in Cardiff

    He was on his mobile, and left as the bus approached the stop... while still on his mobile! ;)

  36. Kenny Millar
    Jobs Halo


    Look, Tim, if I can see you walking down the street, and I can remember that I saw you walking down the street, then there is NOTHING to stop me taking a picture of you walking down the street. A photograph, or even video, is just a permanent reminder of something the photographer saw. If you don't want to be photographed, then don't leave the house, and keep your curtains shut.

    Oh, and buy a Mac, they are better than windows machines.

  37. Andy Kay

    I was following this in Leeds

    it was the same car (tell by reg plate) on 12th June. btw he was quite rude in assuming I'd let him out of a junction - typical southern driver! he then proceeded to snap away without prior permission!! (LEDs flashing on the camera equipment) whilst merrily strolling along past the main white building at Leeds University.

    I didnt pull a face or flash anything a) because I was driving and b) quite shocked at his cheeky junction-exiting manoeuvre

  38. Anon Koward


    So when was this confernce in basingstoke? And is it a gay only event?

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @Craig Re: £500

    'Where do I claim the £500? '

    a) There's no arrest or confiscation evident

    b) It's not in the UK (T&C's*)

    c) I believe the officer is actually asking "Does my bike look big in this?" and noting down the web address the pics will be on & drivers details so he can go check.

    *T&C's state everything must be in UK & done UK stylee - that's at least a tacit "or we'll log onto the PNC and amend your details to terrorist/paedo" if not an all out (erroneous) "we think what you're doing is illegal - therefore it is"

    Coat: Yep - pockets weren't empty but tapes and SD cards had been wiped

  40. Jeff Wojciechowski

    "The Septics" spotted one

    Saw one roaming the streets of northwest suburbs of Chicago last week while at a stop sign.

  41. Paul Fleetwood
    Black Helicopters

    so that's what that was

    I saw it last week in South London, and couldn't work out what the hell the device stuck to the cars roof was for.

  42. Ivan Headache

    @Spotted in Paisley

    No. they're all black.

  43. Brian

    Don't let him near Bracknell...

    Or he'll need a new camera, car, wallet, clothes...

  44. Mr Smin

    that's put my mind at rest

    I was following one in my RRV in Oxford last month and wondered what the dickens it was. Glad it wasn't the lizard overlords survey vehicle.

  45. Andy Kay

    car photographer caught out?

    Judging by the angle of the shot of this GoogleCar, it seems it was the driver who took this photo, and looking at the quality, it must be from a camera-phone, therefore slap a nice 3pts + £60 fine to Mr Ziad al-Hasso and posting it on the web ;)

    mines the one with the blue flashing lights

  46. Neil

    Spotted in Liverpool

    Bricked up with no wheels and the cameras stripped off the roof.

  47. Anonymous Coward


    Get your scroogle t-shirts and hats £15 each ;)

  48. Elmer Phud

    @ Mr Smin

    "Glad it wasn't the lizard overlords survey vehicle."

    Who do you think are in charge of Google's takeover of the planet?

    When we are all totally reliant on Google for everything IT they will just pull the plug and humans will turn on each other while the lizards feed on our pain.

    's obvious, innit?

  49. J

    Stop complaining!!!11!eleventyone!

    If Google is taking pics (and posting them online to add insult to injury!) in the streets, then you can too! All you have to do when you're getting [arrested | your stuff confiscated | your Flash wiped] is to point out to the police that Google does it too so it must be legal, and all will be fine and they'll let you go in peace.

  50. Grant

    Eddie Edwards and Tim

    Tim - public place, no right to privacy and anyone can take your photo. Despite all the efforts to the contrary that is still the law.

    Eddie - Model release is only required for commercial use, in fact it isn't always required but very few places will take stock of identifiable people without a model release for legal protection.

  51. lazarus

    I think i know where it lives

    Spotted it parked up on a driveway a few doors up from me with all its covers on in leeds. might have to see if its still there.

  52. Peyton
    Paris Hilton

    A Question

    Perhaps I need to just get out and travel more ("yank" posting here), but if someone wouldn't mind indulging me....

    WHY in the world are the lane lines painted all zig-zaggedy??

  53. TimM

    Model release

    Thought Model Release was more for our American cousins who require them for commercial use to cover their arses in case of US lawsuits ?

    Other than that I think it's just common practice with models, but in the US you need them for anyone in the photo, but in the UK just any old member of public who gets in the shot doesn't require them I believe.

    Anyway, there are some exceptions to this "okay in public" rule...


    Certain gov 'sensitive' sites

    Public places in London that require permits for commercial photos, Trafalgar Square I think for one.

    You may come a cropper with trademark infringement if the photo contains a trademark *and* it can be clearly shown in court that you are using that trademark for your commercial benefit. However this is a civil case, not criminal. It's still not illegal to take the photo in the first place or even use it commercially, just that the trademark owner can attempt to sue for damages.

    And of course half the Special Constables in the UK seem to think all photographers are paedo-terrorists ;-)

    Anyway, Gordo's lot will soon put a stop to photography. Soon pro photographers will need top level security clearance and have all photos checked before use, will need ID cards and be registered on a special database. Anyone else will be limited to a snapshot camera and manufacturers will be required to include image recognition technology that blurs out any kiddies and gov buildings! And of course they'll still need to get a permit to buy a camera and all photos will be digitally watermarked with the photographer's ID which is checked via a genetic DNA scanner on the shutter button.

  54. Dave

    A Lateral Thought

    Perhaps if people bought Google T-shirts and/or put a Google sticker on their camera then they could claim they were merely doing fill-in pics that the car didn't quite get if they are stopped by the police.

    @Andy Kay - it's illegal to use a phone while driving, but I don't think it's a specific offence to use a camera, they'd have to get you under existing due care and attention regs for that one. My camera phone actually takes very good quality pics (K800) so quality doesn't necessarily prove anything.

  55. Solomon Grundy


    Those cars are all on the wrong side of the road.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Pete Re:Opel

    "AC - the continental Opel is the same thing as the UK Vauxhall."

    Except that the continental Opel has an Opel logo, not a Vauxhall logo. And the logo/badge on the back of the car in the photo looks like an Opel logo, not a Vauxhall logo.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spotted in Berwick upon Tweed

    ... in Morrison's supermarket car park. Obviously the operative stocking up on pies (because that's about all Morrison's sell)

  58. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    @Peyton: Re: A Question

    "WHY in the world are the lane lines painted all zig-zaggedy??"

    It indicates the desired skid mark pattern when you slam your brakes on a little too late having noticed the red light for the pedestrian crossing ahead.

    However some like to entertain the idea that it's the markings that are there on the approach to a pedestrian controlled crossing and that you must take care and must never park there. Or something like that anyway.

  59. paul clarke

    You shut up!!

    I was not talking to my gay lover. I was talking to Paris regarding some slanderous remarks on this website - so expect litigation from Davenport Lyons who also noticed that you are downloading "Linux Dists" (yeah whatever!!) via Bittorrent!!

    However on a serious note, can they come down my street, I'd like to show my arse on google maps!!

  60. Matt Bateman

    car seen

    I clocked this car in Fulham last Thursday, hope no-one ever buys this car as the munt driving trod all over the roof to remove the cover over the camera......thought it wa something to do with TFL's traffic manipulation system (i.e make the Kengestion charge look good!)

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


  62. Anonymous Coward

    one way to stop them... to perform some sort of act, whilst the Google car is passing, that the police could class as being "extreme". Google could then be arrested (or at least their execs) for having extreme images on their servers...

  63. Emo
    Black Helicopters


    Is it co-incidence that the last part of the reg is "AYB" = All Your Base?

    Opel badge coz it's probably a cheap import from abroad. So having covered the whole of england snapping, will be worthless to buy 2nd hand anyway!

    Mines the one with the burnt out fuel card in the pocket.

  64. Rubber chicken

    RE: WHY in the world are the lane lines painted all zig-zaggedy??"

    Its so only small "sensible cars" can fit through the intersection. No bonkers yank tanks here please.

  65. pctechxp

    @Paul Fleetwood

    surely you mean saarf London don't you?

  66. This post has been deleted by its author

  67. Mark Lynch

    I'll take those 500...

    Still not UK, but getting closer. It was a parking violation apparently.

    They were here about a couple of months ago so obviously they're working their way back home. Ireland the last stop ?

  68. Andrew Baines Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Nothing for me to worry about

    The google maps showing my house are at least 5 years old, so should he safe for a while.

  69. Catherine

    Muswell Hill spotting

    Saw this coming up Muswell Hill in London a few days ago - wondered what on earth it was at the time.

  70. Ascylto


    You cheap, lying rat!

    I thought you were at the conference, phoned them and some Anonymous Coward tried to cover for you.

    I know you were elsewhere, no doubt meeting someone else.

    Well, let me tell you ... I never want to see you again.

    Never, never, never.

    (Unless you apologise and buy me that Prada bag)

  71. rory dobson

    Inverness - me on bike...

    Yep - one passed me cycling in to work on Monday this week...

    ...maybe I'll get my 15 minutes!

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google Spotting

    Google car spotted Tuesday morning in Garforth, near Leeds.

  73. nobby

    @Pete Re:Opel (ibid)

    but you'll notice that it will cost you more to insure the Opel in the UK as they are a foreign brand and so worthy of an insurance hike.

    Should you be silly enough to state your vehicle as being a Vauxhall to save the aforementioned insurance hike then you would be considered uninsured in the case of an accident.

    (there are nice specialist insurance companies who respect the 99.9999% similarity between the Opel and Vauxhall models and will charge the same... but good luck finding one )

    i'll pick up my anorak on the way out...

  74. Matt

    Opel v Vauxhall

    Off topic a bit:

    Essentailly Vauxhall cars = Opel Cars. Both GM brands (since the 30s or so I think) since the 70s both have had pretty much the same range, badged differently for different territories.

  75. Anonymous Coward


    What I need now is some strides with a quick release arse flap - so I can give the world - via Google - a quick moon :-)

  76. Jon Styer

    Google cars....

    Hate to say it, but your Opel/Vauxhall is a Saturn Astra now in the states. Exact same car - another badge.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @ Eddie Edwards


    I may be wrong but I believe that you only need a release form if you intend to make profit form the pictures and Google maps are not for profit...oh wait....

  78. Herby

    Was it seen...

    ...driving past #10 Downing St.?

    THAT would be a wonderful street view.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    driving very slowly around Morley, Leeds

    We spotted this car lurking very slowly down our cul-de-sac one day last week. The vehicle actually stopped outside our house and although our garden hedge is very high, the cameras on the top of the pole could be seen clearly looking into our garden and kitchen window. It was very intimidating!

    We went out onto the street to see what on earth was happening. It was a black car,

    just like the one on the photograph, with two men in the front seats. The vehicle turned around at the end of the cul-de-sac and then it drove away, very slowly, filming everyones homes and gardens.

    Black helicopter for obvious reasons...

  80. Anonymous Coward

    In Amsterdam too.

    Spotten and graphed the google street spy car in Amsterdam on July 1st.

  81. Anonymous Coward

    registered pedo

    May I saw as a registered pedo, I am most looking forward to pictures of children innocently walking down the street.

    these are almost impossible to source elsewhere.

  82. Anonymous Coward

    @driving very slowly around Morley, Leeds

    Surely if the camera is high enough to see over a fence/hedge larger than 6ft (giving a reasonable expectation of privacy), then the photographs of the gardens would be illegal if someone complained (as it is illegal to take photographs of a place with a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a garden surrounded by a fence that prevents people from looking in, even if from a public place, if it would be recognisable)

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Tim & Grant

    Tim I am with you. I was outraged by Google not blurring faces & number plates. I saw this as common sense and thought it should be mandatory. I just found out a week ago; IT IS NOW. Google have changed their ways. I don't know how I missed the Register's article on it. In fact the news is about a month old and I had heard NOTHING about it. I stumbled upon it on a random webpage last week. Wonder what made them change their mind??

    Here is the story on this site :

    Now that I see the example photo, though, the blurring is quite pathetic. You can still make out the faces pretty clearly.

    I would say that Google ought to blur windows too. Faces, windows and numberplates. It's just good sense. With the popularily of Google and Google Streetviews, it is a huge privacy concern, we are talking millions and millions of people using the service and viewing the photos, not someone's holiday snaps.

    But I love the idea so I hope it works out. If anyone is interested, the car was in Rome too.

    I have to ask though, did Google get special permission? Can you imagine a regular joe trying to drive down the road with a camera/big black box on top of their car? You would probably make it to the end of your street before armed police arrived. (meanwhile, there is someone being stabbed to death over his fish & chips in the next street)

    Grant that's not true. People (that are not famous) have a reasonable expectation of privacy and that includes the right not to be photographed (yes in public) and have the photo published widely. The rules on taking photos in public places were made before the days where everything is published online, ( and are probably going to change soon). You do not consent to having your photo put on google when you leave the house, it is impossible to live without leaving your house! Thus, photographers need to behave responsibly. It is okay at concerts or something, where photography is expected, or in crowds, or if it is noteworthy.

    But ..not.. getting caught on your way to your work.

    I'm guessing that is what's causing the aggression/suspicion towards photographers these days. People are sick enough of being watched by CCTV, and don't want their photo ending up on Flickr or something. Since they can't shout at the wall mounted cameras, they take it out on the humans, or set the police on them. Same difference. Photographers are sort of a..visible part of the surveillance society.. I have no idea why they object to taking pictures of buildings though they have been doing that for years... Personally I would fight that and take it all the way to court if need be.

  84. le jono

    Oh no

    God dam you google!

    You'll be the death of us all

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like