back to article Emotional arguments do not make Street View illegal

A privacy campaigner has vowed to bring a legal challenge over the launch of Google Street View in the UK. It is understandable that some people are uncomfortable with Google making an enormous photo album of 25 towns and cities, but that doesn't make it illegal. Privacy International's Simon Davies argues that Google should …


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  1. Steve


    Got to laugh though people must get realy bored and think of new ways to sue compaines.

    What are the chances of some 1 seeing you on google street view and then they see you in teh street?

    9 times out of ten people dont take any notice.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    "which gives everyone a right to respect for their privacy"

    Shurly you shoul dhave a right to privacy , in the privacy of your own home.

    These pictures are however, outside, in PUBLIC (note, not private)

    should we all walk around with our eyes closed in case we offend someones right to privacy in public?

    mines the trenchcoat with the dark glasses in the pocket.

  3. Pete

    exactly right

    And if Privacy International happens to win against google, it's another nail in the coffin of photographers rights, rights which are already being hammered.

  4. DM


    Has he got any shred of credibility left?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hur and Dur

    Oh for gods sake. People will let the government trample all over their civil rights to the point at which CCTV cameras outnumber people, but when google takes a few censored, easily contested photographs of streets people happen to be using, its wrong?

    You can be put on a DNA database for life without commiting a crime, and nobody cares, but someone (potentially) puts a blurred picture of you walking down the street on the internet and theres an outcry?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not sure this adds up

    A court might consider that as Google introduced this service un-asked for then it's their problem to ensure privacy, no matter how difficult that is.

    They may also take the view that occasional street scenes published in a book, or even on-line, are entirely different to anyone being able to bring up an almost 3D image of my house (street view plus looking from above).

    The argument of utility isn't likely to carry much weight, as there isn't really that much utility :-)

  7. Joe K

    "Hi, it's Google! Smile everybody"

    That would have been great, most people would have struck a silly pose or smiled like a loon.

    Would have made the UK seem like party-town, as opposed to the sue-happy US's little brother.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Publically Accessible Information.

    Its what Burqa's were invented for.

  9. alain williams Silver badge

    Storm in a tea cup

    Also people get really, an rightly, upset when the cops try to stop people taking street pictures.

    If someone wanted to get a snap of your house they just walk up and press a button, what is the fuss about google ? Likewise the fuss about pictures of police stations and the such is rubbish.

  10. A J Stiles

    Important difference

    The idea that you don't have an expectation of privacy in a public place is reasonable, but presumes that the only thing you are worried about is being seen *at the time*. When your picture can be taken and posted on the Internet for all and sundry to see, it's a different ball game.

    Besides which, surely it's only a matter of time before a Google Street View car unwittingly takes a photo which unfortunately happens to portray a child in a state of undress. Then Google Street View is suddenly kiddie pr0n and we're all nonces.

  11. Steve W

    TV News Coverage

    I was amused last week, to see some TV reporters doing "on-location" reporting from the streets of London, and asking passers-by what they thought of Google's "evil scheme" to photograph everyone's houses.

    Neither the BBC, ITV or Channel 4 News bothered to blank out the faces of the people walking by in the background.

  12. Warren

    One rule for them

    I'm sorry, I have to disagree. Useful does not automatically equal good or legal. The ICO's job is to uphold the law surely.

    I might find 10 people who would find a fast car useful. It doesn't mean we can go and nick one. But when it's our privacy, we are expected to think large-scale intrusion is normal, and everything normal is expected to be legal. We get the same thing all the time in other fields. (e.g. "We have to approve human cloning, it's the only way we can run science now"; "we have to allow torture of terror suspects, everyone else is doing it".) But this is backwards - the law should determine the norm!

    Of course, if the police think you might be doing something a bit terrorist-like with a camera, you'll be going down the station, especially if you're not white-skinned. If you're a multinational corporation mapping the UK in a way obviously of some use to terrorists, but ostensibly for the aim of large-scale profit, carry on. Profit is good, after all. We'll make the laws fit.

    Intent matters when you're Google. Intent matters when you're an individual too, but the police assume your intent is bad. The fact that one person's small photo album could not possibly be used for anything dodgy and can't be accessed by anyone else is irrelevant.

    Now, let's assume their face and numberplate fuzzing fails 5% of the time (estimated from looking at their images). While a good score for the technology, this is in reality unacceptable. No one person has photographed more than 5% of the UK I would hazard, so no-one has done more than Google. Therefore no-one else should ever be told off for taking pictures. The fact you can have your image removed is utterly irrelevant. You won't find out about it being up there until everyone else does, and any damage is done.

    Big biz & the gov think they run us. This is also backwards.

    BTW I haven't been burned by GSV (as far as I can tell) or police stopping my photography. The stories I read of those who have are scary enough to make me write this.

  13. Ted Treen
    Jobs Halo

    What? Me, worry?

    I really don't care very much about Googlecams possibly capturing a vague shot of me on the street - UNLESS all details are being made available to our 2nd-Home Secretary and her evil henchmen - in which case I object vehemently and even violently, as soon as I find some like-minded souls with whom I might commit conspiracy...

    If it remains "internet only", I am far less worried, since I believe "Jackboots" could be kept quiet for months on end by giving her an Etch-a-Sketch, and telling her it was a laptop. "Yes, your second-homeness, hold it upside-down and shake to reboot..."

  14. Alan

    @Not sure this adds up

    "The argument of utility isn't likely to carry much weight, as there isn't really that much utility :-)"

    Sorry pal, it does have utility - yesterday I used Street View to see where I'm going on Friday, find a nearby car park and plot my route from the car park to the restaurant.

    It's a pretty cool application really...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    simple answer

    Just go through all of streetview's pictures of the whole country and report every single one of them that contains a person, as being recognisably you, and demand it's removal.

    A concerted effort over the net shouldn't be too hard

  16. Paul

    But surely

    By taking my photo they're stealing my soul...

  17. Bug
    Black Helicopters

    Sod google what about the gov and lack of privacy

    It amazes me that so many people are complaining about loss of privacy from street view which is a single one time snapshot taken in the past and publicly shown with the option of having your image removed or blurred, but all these people say nothing about the constant LIVE video of their lives which are collected and maintained by the government, security agencies and numerous private organisation via CCTV, and all the other numerous databases the government has/building. Maybe Google should say that "it's for the children" or to "prevent terrorists" it works for the idiots in parliament.

    For example the guy who was unhappy about being seen entering (or leaving cannot remember) a sex shop, when via CCTV the government can watch him enter and leave, where he came from and where he went. If the shop has CCTV he can be watched all the time he was in the store and possibly show what he bought, if not shown on CCTV then his credit card details will show what and when he bought. Then when he uses he phone, internet, mobile, drives anywhere the government want to store AND cross reference all those details as well and he's worried about a single photo online, strange priorities.

    Still I can see Google taking the flack and the government praying no-one has a go at them for their extreme surveillance. Also lets be honest here the Google cars are not really subtle or undercover are they? Small car with dirty great big post on top with loads of cameras. If the government was the same then at least you would have a chance of spotting it and avoiding them.

  18. Gerard Krupa

    ...taken deliberately, in secret...

    Has he SEEN those cars? I mean unless you had your back to them you can hardly call the two-foot poles stuck to the tops of those cars secret, covert or hidden in any way.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: hum


    " should we all walk around with our eyes closed in case we offend someones right to privacy in public? "

    There's a difference between a transitory sighting and a permanent record available to all and sundry.

    When I'm in the street, I am only seen by the people who are in the street at the same time as me. If that street is in a different town from where I live, the chances of someone I know being in the exact same street at the exact same moment as I re-emerge from a brothel or my mistress's house are extremely low.

    But if I were to be snapped by streetview wearing one of my distinctive self-designed garments, anyone who looks at that street and knows me will know all about it.

    There's such a humungous difference I really wonder if you are serious.

  20. Eponymous Cowherd

    Simple solution

    If you see a GoogleMobile coming down your street, run outside and get your todger out.

    Seems to be the most efficient way of getting images removed from Street View.

  21. Thomas Jolliffe
    Thumb Up

    @Anonymous Coward

    "Oh for gods sake. People will let the government trample all over their civil rights to the point at which CCTV cameras outnumber people, but when google takes a few censored, easily contested photographs of streets people happen to be using, its wrong?

    You can be put on a DNA database for life without commiting a crime, and nobody cares, but someone (potentially) puts a blurred picture of you walking down the street on the internet and theres an outcry?"

    Well said that man.

  22. Guy Herbert
    Thumb Down


    What AC, 13:02 said. I really don't understand why the massive fuss over StreetView, when the police (i.e. ACPO) can announce an ambition to "record every car journey in Britain" to seeming complete indifference.

    Is it just that you can look up Google at home or office and get a nice picture, while ANPR archiving is an abstract govt-only closed system, so people can't visualise what it is doing in their lives? I fear it might be.

  23. ceedee
    Black Helicopters

    Isn't it ironic?

    ... that Simon Davies didn't believe Phorm was that intrusive?

  24. Syd
    Paris Hilton

    Scott McNealy summed it up...

    ... albeit not very tactfully.

    "You have zero privacy anyway - get over it!"

    (Paris... 'cos she hasn't got any either!)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Private or public

    So Google has taken indiscriminate photos from a public place of (predominantly) private property purely for commercial gain and that's OK? Of course a clever ploy of Google's was to call it 'Street View' as 'Private Property View' which would not have gone down so well.

    Is it illegal? Well I have already seen photos of the inside of houses which can be against the law (voyeurism) though nobody seems concerned about this. The picture they took of a naked child is illegal though I'll bet they'll not be prosecuted.

    Another case of the creep to numb people to their right to privacy.

  26. It wasnt me

    My main worry

    is that it is absolutely completely useless.

    Im trying to find a use for it. I cant use it to see what someones house looks like before I go (I live at number 57 and its labelled as 34). I cant see what a shop looks like before I go there. (Southampton is largely pedestrianised and they dont take their cars there). So whats the point.? On the down side you can see straight through all of the windows on the other side of the street. On some houses you can even tell the model of the television. How on earth is that possible usefull to anyone other than burglars? I am truly amazed that google spent so much money on this.

    The only thing it has achieved is changing my preception of google from 'ok company' to police / government puppet.

    Its a neat idea, but couldnt they have kept everyone happy by picturing only shopping steets and town centres, rather than the opposite?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just wear

    hoodies and ski masks, there you go problem solved.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Google fanbois are busy today

    Farting in a lift isn't illegal either but we all know it shouldn't be done.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Ask Paris,

    You can be photographed in all sorts of places without being able to do anything about it, as long as the image portrays fact ie. something that actually happened.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I have to say that while I usually support the very important work which P.I. undertakes, on this issue I'm afraid Simon risks turning him and his organisation into a laughing stock over a very tricial non-issue, completely invalidating the important real campaign work they do.

    Simon, think again!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Both sides missing the point entirely

    The ICO passed Street View because its blurring technology 'would' remove faces and number plates.

    It doesn't. It doesn't work properly. There are thousands of both clearly visible.

    So what happens next? Please don't tell me 'Nothing; Google carry on doing what they like, while everyone is distracted by Davies and Robertson playing is isn't is isn't.'

  32. David


    My House isn't even covered. Infact i cant find a picture of me on their at all. they havent even covered my area. buggers.

    I think we should have the automatic right to be on the photos. I want the chance to be mooning from my house as the camera passes by.

    surely thats my right as a human!!!

  33. John Curry


    If you're in your own home, or somebody else's home, or a private building or function, then privacy should be all yours.

    If you're out in public, you have no right to 'privacy' whatsoever. You're choosing to put yourself in that domain for others to see. The fact that 'others' now means potentially millions if people doesn't change that fact. This applies in the same way as television crews filming a football game. If you attend, you're giving up your right to privacy.

    If your main concern is avoiding being caught out at adultery, your main task was to simply avoid the google camcars. That's not really much different from avoiding bumping into someone who knows you, in that it's a random element. What next? Request that an entire street be closed down so that no-one can catch you out doing rumpy pumpy where you shouldn't be?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @"It's not useful"

    It's most definitely useful - a few days ago my wife was traveling and ended up lost in the ass-end of New Jersey late at night. She called me up. She knew she was in the parking lot of a Burger King near to a certain exit, so I business-searched, found the BK, and looked at street view to corroborate her position. And because I could see the parking lot and BK sign from street view, I could easily tell her which direction to go, and confirm landmarks -as she was driving- so we knew she was headed the right way.

    I've also used Streetview to find business in Manhattan - which are often uber-difficult to find even with a building number.

    The fact that you lack the imagination to use a service doesn't mean it's not useful.

  35. Charles Tsang


    Actually, I find it quite useful for locating stores/shops in London.

    Conversations with friends about restaurants is so much easier with a quick street view link about the location.

    I've also used it to ascertain what happened to a particular shopping mall (well circa Summer 2008).

    I also use google maps for directions quite a lot, so I think having a 3 D pictorial presentation is pretty useful!

    Small minor things that don't exactly contribute to the progression/development of the human race, but if you're going to get that picky, you shouldn't be reading the comments but doing VSO or some charity work!

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Sue them!

    I'm going to sue them for millions as their face blurring software failed to blur the face of my cat who just happened to be sitting on my front door step when they went past my house with their evil privacy-destroying vans!

    Think of the kittens!

    Mr Angry

  37. Maty
    Thumb Up

    Not essential, but life-enhancing

    I've just used it to show a friend around Cambridge. We took a sort of virtual walking tour of the city and I pointed out various colleges and pubs and where to hire a punt from. The fact that we were both on different continents and neither of us in the UK didn't matter at all. I love the internet.

    Incidentally, it's a good thing that cameras came out before the privacy nuts really got going or I doubt their use would be allowed by anyone except licensed photographers - and the government.

  38. Gianni Straniero
    Black Helicopters


    I think the comparison between Street View and surveillance CCTV is interesting. The factoid that the average citizen is captured 300 times per day on CCTV has been shown to be a canard:

    However, there is a legitimate concern about surveillance in the UK. Street View allows persons unknown to access images of you in a public place. CCTV allows persons unknown to access images of you in public *and* private places.

    The difference is that you can see the images in Street View and ask that they be removed. You cannot practicably do the same with CCTV.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    "Sorry pal, it does have utility - yesterday I used Street View to see where I'm going on Friday, find a nearby car park and plot my route from the car park to the restaurant."

    How on earth did you cope in the real world without it?? Agree it's a very cool application, but this sounds very much like trying to find a problem to match the solution if ever I heard one!

  40. fishman

    @It wasnt me

    I find it very useful. As an example, if you use google maps to get directions, just click on one of the directions (Turn right on 17th Street). Street view then shows you the intersection, along with a line showing the path you will take. And when I actually drive it, I know what to look for, so I can pay more attention to driving. Making it safer for myself and other drivers.

  41. Cameron Colley

    @John Curry

    I agree, but with a caveat. I think Google should have to perform automatic window-blurring in residential areas -- so that nickable goods and naked people are a lot less likely to be shown.

    Personally, I would like to see full-body blurring too, though I'm not _that_ bothered if I'm caught on it.

    I am usually very protective about my privacy, however, I don't expect people not to look at me in public and as long as people aren't taking a picture of _me_ specifically then I can't say it bothers me to be caught on camera.

  42. Tony

    Wait, what?

    Do we actually have a right to privacy in public places then?

    And if so why are we subjected to endless tabloid bottom-feeders ramming pictures of this or that celebrity looking a bit peaky/fat/drunk/pregnant down our collective throat? If google taking pictures of a street and inadvertantly filming passers by without their permission is even slightly illegal, how come the paperazi can make a living by deliberately filming people when they don't want to be?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I object!

    I object to having the pit of hell that is my home town held up to public ridicule on the intertubes.

    Anon because I don't want to be held up to public ridicule, either.

  44. david

    I thought it was quite amusing...

    ...complaining about NI Cop shops. All the ones I know have lights, razor wire and huge wire and concrete fences.

    Not as if they weren't conspicuous for anyone wishing to case the joint...

  45. Alistair
    Paris Hilton

    People hate it

    When you take photographs of them in the street.

    What are you doing? What are you going to do with the pictures? Etc.

    Then if they can't come up with a valid or real reason for you not to take their picture, such as being on private land such as a shopping mall, they will accuse you of all sorts of things.

    Its just a basic defensive response, to something they/we don't understand. The Dilbert Principle in action, if you will.

    Paris because everyone's seen a photograph of her street

  46. Slik Fandango

    I have no problem

    but if some of this lot get their way - every time I take a snap of my girlfriend or my son in the street, I am going to effectively ask every person in the background for their permission!!

    Its hard enough being a photographer as it is - and it is currently not illegal to take pictures in the street (although I didn't say that to the HUGE security guard at Canary Warf who told me that I need permission from the buildings owners...).

    Mines the one with a Canon DSLR round the neck, Olympus compact in the left pocket and Sony Ericsson c902 in the right!

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @ Slik Fandango

    "Its hard enough being a photographer as it is - and it is currently not illegal to take pictures in the street (although I didn't say that to the HUGE security guard at Canary Warf who told me that I need permission from the buildings owners...)."

    That's ridiculous!! I'd have argued for yonks with him and asked him to explain all the tourists that are snapping away at 1 Canada Sq.

    You should have shown him a picture of Tower Bridge from London Bridge with Canary Wharf hazily in the distance - what's his plan for stopping that? Or picture out a plane window having taken off from City Airport (I have both those pictures)

    Suddenly panics and ticks the AC box...

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blurring of valuable equipment??!!

    A couple of people have mentioned that windows should be blurred so that valuable equipment isn't on view! How ridiculous - the thought that some criminal would use google streetview to case a joint rather than, I dunno, just walking down the street in real-life... Anyone with the wit to pre-plan a crime would surely go in person to make a much more detailed investigation with their eyeballs.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Flick, Picassa, and a whole load of other picture sites have street photographs taken by amateurs. Many are even geo-tagged and searchable. I don't see a lot of difference between that and Google's stuff, save that the latter is more systematic.

    Perhaps we should ban photographs from the internet, for the sake of the children.

  50. David Edwards

    Car crime here we go!

    Im very glad that my nice Lotus lives in a barn and is no longer parked outside my old house where google could snap and publicize it to anyone who wanted to nick it.

    Lets make a nice interactive map of the best cars (or bikes) or even pedal bikes to nick and see if that gets anyones attention.

  51. Steven Holmquist

    Then by his own statements...

    ..He would force every news photog to get permission slips for anyone ever shown in the background of a news photo, sports event, etc. This "privacy complaint" is just a waste of time and money.

  52. Steve

    Court of Appeal, talking shite

    "If the photographs had been taken ... to show the scene in a street by a passer-by and later published as street scenes, that would be one thing, but they were not taken as street scenes but were taken deliberately, in secret and with a view to their subsequent publication."

    Of course they were taken as street scenes you twats - the clues in the name "Street View".

    I'd also like to know how taking a picture "deliberately" and with a view to "subsequent publication" means it's not a "street scene". Are all "street scenes" photographed by accident or is this some lawyer bullshit around the definition of "street scene"?

  53. Pierre

    I agree -to some extent

    While it's true that I have low expectation of privacy while in the street, I am able to see people who see me -meaning that I can for example take a turn if I spot someone from whom I want to hide. Google is completely unbalancing that: now I can be seen by billions people who I can not see in return, and from whom I cannot avoid being seen. Different matter entirely. However, the low quality of images and the face blurring ought to bring some kind of deniability.

    "The fact that Google makes it easy for people to complain about featuring in Street View will also appease the ICO: people can have their images removed."

    This is entirely moose bollocks. For this argument to work, you need to assume that everyone is monitoring StreetView everyday along every street they took, and is therefore automatically aware that they appear on a pic.

  54. Daniel Pimley

    @ Slik Fandango

    Actually the entire Canary Wharf estate is private property, to which the public is permitted entry. If the security guards feel like it, they can tell you to scram.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    So, what's all the fuss about?

    1. Simple solution

    "By Eponymous Cowherd Posted Monday 23rd March 2009 13:37 GMT

    If you see a GoogleMobile coming down your street, run outside and get your todger out."

    And if you're a woman?

    2. Brill cartoon in Daily Telegraph that sums it all up - CCTV operator complaining Google had photographed their equipment.

    3. Interesting that Google get away with photographing Coppers, whereas mere members of the public now can't.

    4. All those stupid kill-joys who complain, presumably never look at a photograph in the press or television news report that has 'other' members of the public whose faces are not obscured.

  56. Anonymous Coward

    Probably the worse thing

    Probably the worse thing about Street View is that it may give law enforcement more opportunities to catch evil-doers in the act of breaking the law.

  57. jake Silver badge

    @A J Stiles

    "The idea that you don't have an expectation of privacy in a public place is reasonable, but presumes that the only thing you are worried about is being seen *at the time*. When your picture can be taken and posted on the Internet for all and sundry to see, it's a different ball game."

    But there's the rub ... It CAN! I was rather amused to find a photo of my wife & myself on a Napa Valley Mustard Festival advertisement, and the same photo on a WWW page advertising the same event. Why amused? Because we live here & don't do tourist stuff. Was I upset? No, not at all ... Nobody knew it was us but us, and even if they DID know it was us, there was no other information attached to the photo. Same for the shot on of me flipping off the car as it went by. I know it was me, my wife knows it's me, and the friends I emailed the link to know it's me (and got a giggle out of it), but what can anyone do with the photo? Nothing.

    "Besides which, surely it's only a matter of time before a Google Street View car unwittingly takes a photo which unfortunately happens to portray a child in a state of undress. Then Google Street View is suddenly kiddie pr0n and we're all nonces."

    Uh ... It's hardly GooMSNhoo!'s fault if a parent isn't properly taking care of their children.

  58. jake Silver badge

    Various "petty crime" ideas.

    Please, kids, try to remember that the pics archived at Google are NOT current. They range in age from a couple weeks to several years in age. The aerial shots of my place up in Fort Bragg (California version) seems to have been photographed about 10 years ago; my place in Copperopolis was photographed 5 years ago, and my place here about two years ago (all judging by tree cutting & mowing patterns of the various acerages). The shot of me flipping off the car was from a couple months ago. Anyone who makes plans for criminal activity based on Google will no doubt get exactly what they deserve.

  59. Andy Bright

    Short sighted

    What do you mean you can't find one good purpose for StreetView? Talk about short sightedness.

    StreetView is the single most important advance in stalking tech since the binoculars. It may take a decade or so to actually catch the person you're stalking on StreetView, but the potential to scout out good hiding places or plan your late night trips to your ex-girlfriend's house is there for everyone to see. Of course we're still waiting for the holy grail of public access CCTV, but this is quite clearly a step in the right direction.

  60. Carl

    Where does this privacy and human rights end?

    This is stupid. next, Newsteams, newspapers, documentary and filmakers wont be able to make films documentaries, news bulletins etc... in public places without asking permission of every single person to publish their image!!??

    These people need to get a life and this government needs to stop giving in to these mamby pambys. We are all entitled to our privacy but the second you step foot outside your front door you are presenting yourself into the public domain. The exception is if your image is purposefully used for gain, eg someone takes your photo with the intention to sell it on as a portrait etc... not generalised photos or films. Actors get paid for playing a key role, "extras" get paid for playing minor background roles, the general public in the background dont get anything because they do not contribute to the film "as such". would it benefit the nation if we couldnt show any images of the public at large for the sake of a few whiners?

  61. john edson

    google street views - DISGRACE

    Has common sense gone out of the window.

  62. Julian Cox
    Paris Hilton

    What a palaver

    I had to be amused by some of the TV news reports on the day of launch, especially the one where Channel4 news filmed a presenter standing in a London square with hundreds of (unblurred, recognisable) people milling about, then comparing it to the view in Google Streets and droning on about the possible issues where someone's face isn't blurred or is otherwise identifiable.

    What's the chances of someone who shouldn't have been there at the time (at least date was known) being spotted on C4 news compared to a low res picture out of millions of scenes on GStreets?

    What if a policeman is identifiable in the pictures though? But that's another matter...

    (Paris - 'cos she'd be upset at having missed millions of photo opportunities ;-)

  63. Martin H Watson

    A very clever publicity campaign.

    'Scores' of images is less than a drop in the ocean. This is marvellous technology, and will allow many, many people to do their jobs from a desk without unnecessary travel. A few in the US complained last year and they were all thrown out. It's progress and it's here to stay. Live with it, enjoy it. have fun with it.

    Oh, and anyone who leaves valuable objects on display in their windows is stupid.

  64. JimC

    removing people...

    It would hardly be rocket science to remove almost all people from Street view anyway. Two passes 5 minutes apart and automatically remove everthing that doesn't appear in both views.Trees might look a bit pants on windy days, but that would be no great issue.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Is Simon Davies a government plant?

    Because he seems to be doing everything possible to distract attention from the real privacy issues.

  66. Nebulo

    Emotional arguments?

    Maybe emotional arguments do not make Street View illegal. Yet 'arguments' which are no more than emotional (since they *never* actually give you any *facts*) are routinely deployed by government spokesclones when the state proposes another intrusion into our lives, and are then used to make *their* intrusion legal. You don't like these evil terrorists / this global warming / our latest flavour-of-the-month scare that we've invented, sorry, discovered, do you? Better let us do whatever we like to you, then. Trust us!

    The principle should be simple. No identifiable image of an individual should be permitted to be taken in any public place without that individual's prior, written consent. The 'identifiable' would ensure that bona-fide photographers taking pictures of, say, famous buildings, would not be unduly affected, and require that anyone who wants a picture of an individual or group must be completely upfront about it, which is no more than one would hope for from a responsible professional. You want my pic - you ask me first.

    The only detriment would be to the flat-headed thugs who sit in their bombproof bunkers miles out of town and presume to shove their cameras in the faces of innocent civilians, and those who employ them so as subsequently to interpret our everyday behaviour in terms of their weird paranoias. And that, naturellement, is why we're very unlikely to get any of our freedom back any time soon. Street View, in comparison, is possibly embarrassing, but probably not much more than that.

  67. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Is Simon Davies a government plant?

    Whatever you might say about Davies, it's more likely he'll turn out to be a visitor from another galaxy than a government plant. They almost ruined his life over the ID cards report he oversaw.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Oh come on!

    "I don't accept that the law demands consent, although if Google were to leave faces on the images without making any effort to blur them out then I agree that notice should be provided."

    On the one hand El Reg argues against the state trying to control photography in public places, then in this article it argues in favour of the same thing.

    Make up your mind on your editorial stance. Do you want to be restricted on the images you can share on the web? Do you think the media should be restricted on the images they can publish? Does a TV station need to notify everybody in shot before they shoot a street scene? What about the crowd at a sports event? Or is your interpretation of the "law" in this case specific to Google?

    My understanding of the law in the UK and most of Europe is that nobody in a public place has any reasonable expectation of privacy. If they did then 90% of images published in the tabloid press would be illegal.

  69. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Oh come on!

    Check the byline. And also remember that publications aren't obliged to maintain one voice and one opinion.

  70. davefb

    Heaven forbid , other people can see me !

    Do people who are afraid of this, approach passers by and ask them 'please wipe me from your memory'. After walking down the street, would they walk into all those tall buildings , and ensure nobody was looking out and taking a sneaky look at you?

    Surely every day, we are all seen randomly by other people that we don't expect to be. Well , Street View might take pictures. Yes but at least with google, we have the possibility to see those pictures.

    Why is this worthy of complaint from Davies and not Phorm?

    Of course my biggest complaint is that they've not driven down my street yet :)

  71. Alan

    @AC 15:35

    "How on earth did you cope in the real world without it?? Agree it's a very cool application, but this sounds very much like trying to find a problem to match the solution if ever I heard one!"

    Firstly - we're off somewhere we've never visited before. I need a nearby car park because my wife can't walk very well.

    In the real world before Street View I would have driven there beforehand and checked the area out, now with Street View I've saved about 60 miles worth of fuel and a couple of hours of being sat in traffic. There you go Google saves the planet yet again...

  72. Anonymous Coward

    Number plates - I don't get it

    I don't understand the paranoia regarding recognisable number plates on Streetview (or Ebay, or the Internet in general).

    I could right now go out for a drive and with a passenger jot down page after page of number plates, car make/model and colour. Just driving home each day, I spot at least 2 or 3 cars just like mine (same colour as well). I could switch my number plate and nobody would be any the wiser as a hurtle around town setting off speed cameras all over the place. It's unlikely you'll ever see a physical police presence to spot the loony driving in a cloned car.

    With the right dodgy contacts number plate cloning is easy enough. Why would a master criminal even need to use something as complicated and traceable as the internet.

  73. Bad Beaver
    Thumb Down


    I wouldn't like the idea of a company snapping my house from orbit AND the street, with my kids and car in front of it, in order to put it on a searchable database for the world to see. Not at all. The utility is primarily to criminals, pesterers and perverts. Blurred faces and plates my ass, you can take a virtual walk down the street and tell "nice house, nice car, nice kids", then proceed to the view from orbit and figure out a nice way in from behind.

    In a world were private public photography is by now pretty much akin to putting on a "pedo terrorist inside" shirt, I think it shows a lot about power structures if Google can get away with it. If I EVER find ANYTHING concerning my person on Google that do not like I WILL make them take it down. No blurring bull. Down.

  74. Anonymous Coward

    Its all a blur...

    "If you see a GoogleMobile coming down your street, run outside and get your todger out. Seems to be the most efficient way of getting images removed from Street View."

    Unless you are unfortunate to have a todger that looks either like a face or a numberplate.

  75. J-Wick

    @David Wiernicki

    LOL. My wife got lost in Kansas City in a similiar kind of way, except that she was too scared to slow down long enough to give me enough information to locate her. "I see a Burger King... and a cross street, it's either 5th Street or 5th Avenue... it's a divided highway, now I see a Taco Bell..."(I was at my desk trying to trianguate her position on Google Maps).

    Unfortunately I wasn't able to find where she was fast enough so she got in a huff and called another friend of hers instead. And since she wasn't married to him, she had enough patience with him that he was able to help her out. :D

    I bought her a GPS (Satnav) within a week.

  76. Charles Ellmaker

    Interesting cultural difference

    As an American, I'll just stipulate up front that we're a bunch of Philistines. This should save some hyperventilating.

    Coming off of 8 years of George Bush, it's still notable that the UK is much more "observed" than we are (or so we think, I suppose). Given this, it's interesting that so many Brits seem to take offense at Google's pictorially mapping the country.

    Most of the people I know love Street View over here. It's like a fantastic service the government would never attempt. When friends mention far-off places, you can go and take a look. News items become a lot more real when you can look at the actual location. If you're thinking of moving to another city, you can walk around and see what different neighborhoods are like. I sometimes walk along with friends in other cities virtually while we talk on the phone.

    Yes, people are "caught" on camera. Golly. Facebook is much more offensive than Google Street View could ever be.

    Give in to your Google Overlords. Become one with the Body.

  77. jake Silver badge

    @Bad Beaver

    How many people walked, skated, bicycled, biked, or drove past your house in the last 24 hours? Of those, how many are locals, and familiar with the local terrain & RealLife(tm) patterns? Of those, how many are criminally inclined? Have you ever been burgled, or worse? I thought not.

    Now please explain to me, exactly, why you think J. Random Criminal is likely to target you, using the Internet as a primary targeting system? THINK, man! The Press is making you paranoid!

  78. Bad Beaver
    Paris Hilton

    @ jake

    Of course you're right. Regardless, is it okay if I am not fine with Google providing information to J. Random Criminal from three hoods away so I have to mind him too and not just J. Random Criminal from the block who already knows his hunting grounds, in fact mind everyone smart enough to find the pictures of street X online? Is is okay if the notion that I am not fine with companies taking pictures of me or my property without asking arose independently, without media assistance?

    Let me propose an experiment. Go to the nicest residential area in your home town and take your camera with you (the bigger the better). Stand in front of peoples property and take snaps from all angles. Do this for every house in a street. Whenever someone approaches you about what you are doing, explain that you just want to put those pictures online so all the world can search for said street and take a virtual stroll through it. Explain that you will connect it to aerial satellite images so people can see what is behind houses and not visible from the street too. Make sure to go on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when folks have their cars or bikes out and their kids playing on the lawn. Note down how long it takes for people to call the police or their private security service (depending upon where you go), then come back here and report your findings.

  79. jake Silver badge

    @Bad Beaver

    You can have any opinion you like. I just disagree with this particular one. But I'll play.

    Let's see ... one of the the nicest neighborhoods in Sonoma. Seems to me that they have had both TV and still cameras all over the place for the last couple months, and there is major WWW presence. (HDTV & the FoodNetwork et alii just gave away a house there ...). The neighbors seem to be reveling in it ... Strangely, google doesn't even show the house at the South East corner of Patton St. & 5th St. E. in Sonoma, California. From my perspective, it would appear that google would be worse than useless if I were planning on burgling the joint. But that's just me.

    Next, I have google's eye view of my place in another tab as I speak. Now, try to remember that I know every plank, nail & screw, pipe, wire & etc. here (I built it from the ground up, with my own hands). Even knowing where the hand's quarters are, where the tractor shed is, which is the feed barn & which houses the mare hotel, about all I can see from google is where the main house is, where my foreman's house is, where the arenas are, where the round-pens are, and which of the barns have outs for the horses. But not where the dawgs hang out ...

    Strangely, I know EXACTLY what day the pic was taken ... My brother's trailered blown gas altered Chevy Nomad was only parked in that particular place in my driveway on Sunday night thru early Monday afternoon after a drag race meet at Infinion^W Sears Point about four years ago. The distribution of the out-buildings has changed somewhat since then.

    Picking yet another random "ritzy" section of town, I'm guessing from the shadows that I'll have second-story windows observing my every move if I try to burgle anyone ... Not something that most casual criminals would want to risk.

    Face it, using ancient photography for crime is a non-starter.

  80. David

    Streets are not private

    If you are out on the street (cue for a Shakatak song), whatever you do is not private and is fair game to be photographed, which is perfectly legal in the UK on public land and highways, so far. If you want to be private, go indoors, lock all the doors and pull down the blinds and do whatever you need to do that mustn't be seen.

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