back to article UK data watchdog gives Google spycar fleet the greenlight

Following a quiet word down at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Google has been given regulatory approval to publish photographs taken by the fleet of camera-carrying black Opels currently surveying Britain. The ICO says it was persuaded by Google's assurances that it will blur the faces of people captured by one …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. radian

    quids in

    'The ICO says it was persuaded by Google's…' …massive suitcase full of cash.

    Nah, just kidding. Big companies don't do things like that. ;-)

  2. John

    What about the originals?

    What about the original unblurry data:

    Where will it be stored?

    How will be be handled?

    By whom?

    Backed up?

    Retention period?

    If outside of the EEA then what about safe-harbour?

    What about Subject Access Requests?

    How exactly does the complaint process work - must I provide photo proof and address that it's me? What happens to THAT data....

    Was the ICO asleep on the job or what?

  3. Man Outraged
    Thumb Up

    A victory for comon sense

    I'm the first to complain about what could amount to serious breaches of privacy, e.g. Phorm et. al. but I'm bemused about the uproar around street view. What next? Ban the BBC from publishing live news reports in case somone can be identified on camera who doesn't want to be? After all, a live news report puts someone at a particular place AND TIME, which streetview doesn't.

    Not outraged today.

  4. Steve
    Thumb Up

    Public photographs

    The media frequently publish photographs of people, taken in public, without their consent or permission.

    There is no right to privacy in a public place in the UK.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Own worst enemy

    Privacy groups are their own worst enemy sometimes. Google have addressed legitimate concerns about people being identifiable via faces and number plates and they even allow people to have pictures removed but this is just not good enough is it? Oh no! Even though these groups have managed to get everything they wanted (baring the outright banning of all cameras and eyeballs) they just have to push it that little further so they can keep bitching. Now they just look like a whiny, interfering cretins instead of the defenders of our rights they claim to be.

    If they are that concerned about the blurring used by Google find someone who can undo it and then get back to us, and Google. Otherwise shut the hell up and fight the battles that really matter.

    Posted anonymously for irony purposes.

  6. jai

    requests for removal

    so we all got a bit organised, we could continually request that image after image is taken down and generate black spots within the google streetview, yes?

  7. David Hicks

    Anyone who complains ...

    ... can have the image removed. but those who don't know about it, don't use google or just aren't tech-savvy won't be doing that, and any data they might object to being shown will be shown, just without their knowledge or permission.

    Google have turned from a search engine into an impending personal-data disaster zone on an unprecedented scale.

  8. Andrew Carpenter
    Black Helicopters

    Privacy International

    They want to see how effective the face blurring technology is? All they have to do is visit and browse some of the existing StreetView images. The new ones of Paris even have the numberplate blurring in place, too.

    Helicopter avatar is spying on you from above.

  9. Chris Morrison

    Above the law!

  10. dek

    Burglars Delight!

    I won't outline the obvious here but with 2secs thought the data watchdog (or should that be "corporation puppy"?) should have been able see the dangers especially in your typical residential street/road. Of course I wouldn't be surprised if he and his political masters don't live in a typical residence. Detached from reality? More like cruising another universe entirely. Me sincerely hopes what is likely to happen to many ordinary folk happens to this bunch of witless shites.

  11. Mart

    "they won't even show us how effective it is"

    Well why don't they go and check out Streetview US where they have already used the blurring? duh...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    What? A toothless ICO? Shirley not!

    That is all.

  13. James Dennis
    Thumb Up

    Streetview is useful

    Assuming blurring occurs correctly (and doesn't just protect horses) I don't have a problem with Streetview. It has been useful on a number of occasions while in the US to get an idea of a turning or a location before travelling there for the first time.

  14. John

    not only that, they can go wherever they want

    even bus lanes:

  15. Booty Inspector

    Just let me know...

    ...when it goes live then I'll spend a coupla weeks looking at every place I've been this year to see if I'm on there.

    Mine's the one with F*CK OFF GOOGLE writ large on the back, just in case I'm lucky enough to get photographed.

  16. Alex

    oh so this is...

    opt out only?

    shouldn't it be opt in?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Good luck Google

    Good luck to Google. If the Privacy people are'nt careful, they'll come off as loony as the Human Rights brigade.

    I don't like everything Google do, but this is all mostly harmless.

  18. Simon

    Oh the fun!!

    If you wanted to move to some street you could use Street view to see what the parking situation is like, is it a pleasant looking area... will your neighbours be fit enough make you smile in the morning, the blurry faces will be ok if you enjoy a few too many beers as they will be recognisable from the streetview pictures then!

    Goggles for google beer goggles....

  19. Jason Clery


    There is no law that says you can't take photos in a public place.

    You can quite happily snap away at things, and if people are in the background, tough...

    You can film scenes for your home made movies, and if people are in the background, tough...

    Whats the big deal?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop complaining

    Yea, we all want our privacy...

    but we all want to nose into other peoples privacy also...

    So we want it yet we don't want it.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the anti crowd on this are such a bunch of wankers.

    O look it's a photo of someone with a blury face walking along a road, we must get our collective panties in a twist. Just browse most forms of media for a few hours and you'll notice oblivious normal folk wandering around and the occasional wanker bigging it up for the camera behind a journalist.

  22. J Ford

    Away from the tinfoil hat briggade...

    ...most people I know were excited about getting themselves photographed by the googlemobile, and are looking forward to trying to spot each others faces/cars/pets when it goes live. I hope the blurring doesn't spoil such fun.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    The new excuse

    Remember - next time you are accused of being a paedophile for the heinous crime of taking a photograph in public, just say you work for Google.

  24. graeme leggett Silver badge

    New T-shirt line for the new Cash n Carrion

    How about some for getting snapped by Google Streetview.

    Captions include - "I bet they won't blur this", "I was snapped by Streetview and all I got was..." and "Oi! Google, No!"

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There are no privacy laws covering public places in the UK.

    The DPA covers data relating to identifiable living individuals.

    So it the blurring tech works there is no legal objection that I can see.

    Rather than going after a big corporation why aren't the Guardianisti concentrating on the privacy abuses carried out by the authorities every day in the name of national security? Because if there's one thing these people hate more than central government it's a multinational corporation.

  26. Moz

    Fine with Streetview

    Nope, just can't get worked up about this one. Like 'Man Outraged', I'm also keen to protect our right to privacy (I've just switched ISP away from BT because of their underhanded behaviour over Phorm). But as mentioned, there is no right to privacy in public streets. Google - evil megalomaniacal corporate leviathan though it might be - isn't doing anything wrong here; and if anything, this ruling should help to protect the rights of photographers to take pictures in public without being treated like terropaedorists.

    I don't like the idea of government databases storing all my phone calls and emails. I don't like that at all. I don't like the idea of government agents entering my house and examining my stuff. I don't like the idea of having to present 'papers' in order to be able to travel around my country, or being marked as a potential Suppressive Person (or whatever the New Labour version is) because I choose to use pseudonyms or noms-de-plume for certain purposes.

    I don't believe that CCTV prevents or deters crime, so I believe there shouldn't be nearly the number of cameras there are. I don't think that companies should be demanding half the information they ask me for just so I can use their service or buy their product, and I certainly don't think they should be flogging that info to anyone else under any circumstances at all.

    So as you can see there are lots of things I *would* get concerned about to a lesser or greater degree. But Google taking photos of my street? Nope. Not bothered in the slightest. As for those people who believe it'll be a charter for burglars, well, the truth is that most burglars are opportunists. Their planning tends to be minimal. Most are also driven by a need to feed a drug habit. Whatever the motivation, they tend to focus on easy-to-reach nearby areas: the chances are very good that anyone likely to break into your house is already quite familiar with it, and wouldn't gain anything more from Streetview.

  27. Tezfair
    Thumb Down


    so how much pollution will this produce for something that most people will not be interested in?

  28. Dale


    I get my 15 minutes of fame. The snapper-car breezed by me just the other day on Bishopsgate and I am looking forward to my new found immortality.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thank God!

    For a moment I thought the glorious shot of me giving Google the finger might never see the light of day.

    Long live shitty Opel Astras with half of Dixons strapped to the roof!

  30. John

    On a more serious note

    Round these parts it would be fairly easy to get pictures right into my front room which would put all my furniture, TV etc etc. Combined with the satellite view it would make it quite easy to plan an escape route from round the back of the house (I checked it out). I was told by an acquaintance that he used folks' back gardens as a shortcut without being seen. It's all very well plonking stuff on the internet, but you have NO CONTROL over who views it. @ detractors: Remember a couple of years back folk selling houses were told NOT to put paintings, TV's, furniture etc on their profile sites as thieves were using them to steal stuff? This is different because Google has just decided to do it anyway without asking. Wasn't there a lot of lawsuits in America when this went live over there?

  31. John

    Stop!!! Impostor alert!!!

    I did not make the above comments! What is an ICO anyway? I thought it was Windowese for an icon file.

  32. iamzippy
    Paris Hilton

    @Moz:Fine With Streetview -- Hear! Hear!

    My sentiments exactly, mate. Cheers for that!

    Paris, cuz even the Papz don't interfere with her passage.

  33. Gary

    OOO Goody____

    My son and his freinds who, sadly, have multiple convictions for violence and other such things (as bored thugs do), have been looking for one of these, but nary a one can they find. Can it be that these arseholes are particular into whose busuness they poke their unwanted and soon to be broken noses. (Wonder how they would have fared in the Creggan and similar!) Gary

  34. Sarev


    I can't help wondering if there was the same fanatical privacy rabidity surrounding the production of the Doomsday Project laserdiscs back in the 1980's... ISTR they had much the same type of streetview stuff - which even went into certain buildings (in a manner of speaking).

  35. sleepy

    it's what Google is

    Google's entire business is the selling of everyone's privacy to advertisers. They need to make sure they have it all, so there's none left for a competitor. The Internet recreates the world as a global village. And that includes village levels of privacy. Google just happens to be the front line of this. Read McLuhan who understood this 50 years ago.

  36. Mark Aggleton

    But God forbid

    ..that there might be a child in the photo

  37. Anonymous Coward

    according to that telegraph report ...

    "Google has said it will not launch the service in the UK until it is comfortable that it complies with local law."

    In other words, and rightly so, "fuck you UK and you stuck up wankers"

    anyone who has a problem with this on privacy grounds is a fool, I don't like my picture being taken but just to have it randomly shoved on a map somewhere to give a view? What's wrong with that.

  38. ElFatbob

    Why bother...

    going to the ICO? It just proved itself (again), to be the Corporate / Government bitch we all know it to be...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Selective concern

    I couldn't give a rats bottom about Google's latest wheeze - after all they are taking the images in public, where we are all entitled to do the same, even if the overzealous thugs we call the police think otherwise.

    But it's interesting that Privacy International seem to be concerned, being as they gave the rather more invasive Phorm less of a strict finger wagging, albeit while wearing their other, more profitable hat. Oh, but Phorm were transparent (if only in their desire to turn us all into cash cows), but Google aren't. Well, speaking personally, a crap invasive idea looks crap, and indeed invasive, whether it's made of multi-coated optical glass or painted an impenetrable black.

    Perhaps Google should have commissioned a Privacy impact assessment from 20/20?

  40. Florence Stanfield

    Which is worse?

    Which would invade your privacy more Google videoing ina public place bluring out faces and numberplates.


    BT's new idea of placing a layer7 on the internet network managed by a company called Phorm using the well known name from BBC "Webwise". This is a DPI (deep packet inspection) reads everything you can see on your monitor. Logs every click visits every website you do knows every website you go to. Just to place adverts that are meant to be relevent to you..

  41. steogede
    Thumb Down


    >> Round these parts it would be fairly easy to get pictures right into my front room which

    >> would put all my furniture, TV etc etc. Combined with the satellite view it would make it

    >> quite easy to plan an escape route from round the back of the house (I checked it out). I

    >> was told by an acquaintance that he used folks' back gardens as a shortcut without

    >> being seen.

    You're displaying your belongings to the public and that is Google's fault how? Buy yourself some nets if you're so worried.

  42. John


    I do have nets and you can still see stuff clearly from outside. If I see one of the opels I'll have to close the blinds which would draw even more attention.

  43. s_d

    I don't get it??

    There are 4.2 million CCTV cameras in the UK, but I don't see them having to blur out faces and numberplates? (Wouldn't be much use if they did really, would they?)

  44. n

    ...and you can still leave the front door open an' all..............DOPE!

    You mean you don't use "gated communities" in the uk?

    How quaint.

This topic is closed for new posts.