back to article Google battles Derby cops over access to Street View data

Google has turned the boys in blue red with rage by refusing to hand over private data except by court order. Police want to trace a vehicle snapped by Google's Street View cameras next to a caravan that was stolen shortly afterwards. The thief struck in June 2009, while the Soanes family, from Linton, Derbyshire, were out. …


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  1. g e

    So... get a court order. DUH.

    Why don't the feds stop bleating and get a fecking court order instead? I'm sure Google will give them the data within hours if not minutes.

    Coppers're the first to whine about proper procedure when it SUITS them to.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      doh !

      Feds ? Where do you think we are, USA ?.

  2. lglethal Silver badge

    The police dont have a leg to stand on...

    What a waste of time from the cops. They would be guaranteed to get a court order within a day or two to get the license plate and then they would be on their way.

    But to try and demand that Google breach privacy laws and hand over data, just to save the cops a day or two (which no doubt they have wasted anyway in trying to force Google's hand and going to the media with their whinging), is an utter disgrace.

    For once, and i dont think ive ever said this before, but Go Google... The law is the law, its about time the police learned that it applies to them too!

    Fail icon because thats what the police have done this time!

    1. Code Monkey

      Aaaaand normality is restored

      After defending plod over retaining 999 caller data I'm back to thinking they're a bunch of arrogant shitebags who think they're above the law.

    2. L1feless

      Privacy Commissioner

      I think this is hilarious. First all of these governments start razzing on Google for not taking privacy seriously. Now they are complying and the governments are getting angry? You cannot have it both ways.

      I applaud Google for what they are doing here. They are following the instructions and the law to a T. As they should.

      1. Graham 25


        @L1feless "Now they are complying and the governments are getting angry?"

        The government is unconcerned - its the dickhead plod who doesn't understand.

      2. Mark 65 Silver badge

        As has been indicated

        This really does demonstrate the contempt that serving officers have for the law they are supposed to enforce.

    3. Qtoktok

      Not a breach

      It doesn't have to be a breach of privacy laws. There is scope in the law for this to be provided totally lawfully for the prevention and detection of crime without the added time and cost to the taxpayer of obtaining a court order for the release of a single image which could easily exonerate the registered keeper of the vehicle. Google undoubtedly knows this if they have an even halfway competent data protection officer. Oh, wait...

      On the other hand, going to the media with the whinging? Agreed, that's an epic fail for Dibble.

  3. fLaMePrOoF
    Thumb Up

    Good for Google...

    For sticking to their guns on this one, the UK is aleady half way to being a police state and it's exactly these kind of checks and balances which must be protected from errosion at all costs!

    1. JaitcH

      @ already half way to being a police state, the UK IS a POLICE STATE

      You sound too light on this number, more like 90%.

      Passwords or prison; ACPO thinks it IS the law and makes money by selling various law related items; check/delete those photographs; train-spotting in supporting terrorism.

      You name it and British Plod is busy organising your lives.

      Why do we elect a government?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Google, the company of two faces!

    Waving the privacy flag one minute, reaping all the free publicity for being the upstanding company for people's rights. Then the very next minute collecting WiFi info without asking and bending over backwards to help large eastern countries when the local Government want the dirt on some suspected dissidents!

    Another reason to avoid Google whenever possible.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Excuse me?

      Benjamin Button? Is that you?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Oh and the Police Never waste public money?!?!

    Good on Google,

    If you want access to Confidential data, there's a protocol, follow it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And that protocol... to get a job driving the street view car with an HDD to store the slurped wifi data.

  6. Steve X

    Quite right too

    Decisions about when to hand over private data to a state authority are rarely black & white, even though in this case it might seem obvious. Neither Google nor the police are trained to make such decisions (nor should they make them), which is exactly why the courts, and procedures like court orders, exist.

    Spending public money to ensure that the public is safeguarded is not a waste, it's an investment, and it's sad that a Tory MP, of all people, can't see that.

    1. MrCheese

      Why so surprised

      A politician ill-conceivedly jumping on a bandwagon they know woefully little about, par for the course that is!

      P.S. I'd imagine that to a politican, all money is wasted if not spent linning their pockets

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good for Google

    I might have to re-assess my opinion of Google following this news, good on them for not handing over private information without question and respecting data protection laws. Of course Google should not be holding on to the unedited images to begin with, so whatever goodwill this gesture earns will probably be short-lived.

    I guess I have to believe that the Police feel their request for a court order will be rejected otherwise they would have done it months ago, it's a routine procedure for them so the only other explanation is incompetence.

    The law only works if it applies to everyone, the Police included, even if that sometimes means the bad guys get away then that's a price worth paying.

    1. Nick Stallman
      Thumb Down


      Why shouldnt Google keep the unblurred images?

      Its a minimal privacy threat, as limited Google employees would have access, and they probably need the originals for improving their blurring and stitching algorithms.

      The point of the blurring is to prevent users from seeing stuff which it does very well.

  8. CD001


    qui custodiet ipsos custodes

  9. Pete Evans

    I thought they weren't allowed to keep this

    Didn't the government demand that Google delete the un-blurred data from their systems? Or am I just making that up?

    1. Keith Langmead

      Yeah that's what I thought

      There may have been more recent updates, but a quick search shows that back in March 2010 the EU demanded that Google delete the unblurred images after 6 months. At the time Google said their policy was to delete them after 12 months. Either way, if this happened (and was photographed) in June 2009, the unblurred pics should have been long gone by November 2010 when this was apparently first raised with Google.

      So my guess would be that either a) Google are taking the piss, knowing full well they don't have them any more, or b) if it's possible to recover the data from backups, they want a proper court order (which possibly then allows them to recover the costs), before they make any efforts to recover the image from backup since it's unlikely to be a quick and easy job considering the mass of data they have.

      1. irrelevant

        held on?

        It's also possible that Google were alerted to the possibility of this picture being needed before it was routinely deleted, so they retained a copy in the expectation of an official request (i.e. a court order) being received in due course. Pretty standard procedure in other industries.. one does not want to be accused of destroying evidence, after all..

      2. BenR

        ... also, with backups ...

        If it is in fact possible to recover the images they're supposed to have deleted from backups, wouldn't it be JUST LIKE the EU or UK to then try to prosecute them for not deleting/still having the images available?

        Thus, on top of all the other reasons why Google are 100% correct in requesting a court order, they probably feel that having the court order for recovering/supplying the photo will give them a warm and cozy feeling around their backsides...

        Fire - because that's what you use to get a warm cozy feeling...?

  10. Dunstan Vavasour

    Policing by consent

    Historically, policing in GB is meant to be undertaken through consent rather than by government fiat: that is why we have local police authorities, and pay for policing (at least partly) through local taxation. Policing is not an arm of government.

    So if the local police want Google to disclose personal information about a third party, there has to be an "approval" mechanism for the request. That mechanism is a court order. I am simply appalled at the MP not understanding this.

    1. Rolf Howarth


      I fully agree with you, but... if you're going to get all constitutional, remember that a local MP is the elected representative OF THE PEOPLE. That's the whole point. Neither the government, nor the civil service, nor The Queen, nor the courts, nor anyone else (other than the electorate at an election) can dictate to MPs what to do, because MPs are the representatives of the people and the people rule supreme. (That's why we the people have to be careful what we wish for in the wake of things like the expenses scandal. If we decide we want some nameless bureaucracy to have authority over our elected representatives we can of course choose to do so, as long as we recognise that we're indirectly diminishing some of our our power in the process. We don't elect the civil servants, only the MPs who are subject to the civil servants' rules.)

      If anyone can tell the police what to do it precisely is your local MP or local councillor (NOT the government!) who should be doing so because that is their job, to stand up for what the people want - you just said the policing is supposed to be by consent of the people.

      1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

        Say again?

        [quote]Neither the government, nor the civil service, nor The Queen, nor the courts, nor anyone else (other than the electorate at an election) can dictate to MPs what to do, because MPs are the representatives of the people and the people rule supreme.[/quote]

        I think you need to retake Constitution 101. Parliament is sovereign, but I don't recognise your characterisation of UK governance at all. Ask Eric Ilsley whether he's subject to the courts or not.

        As nearly as anyone can judge, given that we have no written constitution, the Queen in Council is Sovereign, that counsel is provided by Parliament (both houses) and the Privy Council. In theory, Her Maj can dissolve Parliament tomorrow. She won't, though.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Legal correct Google

    Totally correct move by Google. In fact if the police/cps use picture in court and Google didn't stick to law then the photo will not be submittable in court. Also if thats only edvance they have who did it, it rather weak case anyway. I do not see him doing anything but :-

    1) park car on there drive way

    2) then walking about the car

    It as such is no smoking gun edvance anyway.

    In fact there good chance he knows about this because police going to media and if has brain got rid of everything.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      can't this automagically just be re and then the comment title I've hit reply to? Please?

      You missed the open rear left door and boot, which does look a little odd. Note odd <> suspicious though.

  12. andy gibson

    Publicising the case

    Meanwhile, the "perp" on the drive has plenty of time to get rid of the vehicle and take steps to avoid being caught.

    1. Yag


      Either the car is stolen or the plate are fake, in which case the perp already get rid of the car or the plates, or it's his own car with his registered plates, and getting rid of it now won't help a single bit...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Really? Really Really?

      "The Perp" is either the registered keeper of the vehicle or isn't. If he is then he was still the bleeding registered keeper when the photo was taken whether he's sold it or not. If he isn't the registered keeper and the car was stolen, then it makes no bleedin difference!

      Less American TV, more Open Uni.

  13. hplasm

    Another Slippery slope.

    Plod's bill for grease must be astronomical.

    ^ <-- Dibble slips the lard wrapper into someone else's pocket...

  14. krambam

    MPs will do anything...

    ...for a chance at some good press and potential votes. So she stands up against the huge corporate beast that is Google, fighting for the rights of the individual and championing the struggle against crime. She gets some good press with locals too stupid to realise that if Google acquiesced to this one request it would set a precedent for the whole of policing to follow. She gets good press with the Police as she's basically bashing someone else and not them.

    Meanwhile, Google is quietly lobbying her big boss into handing over the NHS data into Google Health...go Google I say!!

  15. Qtoktok

    Er, exemptions?

    To be contrary, I think Google is being deliberately and unnecessarily obstructive here. There is an exemption under section 29 (3) of the Data Protection Act that would allow them to share this information lawfully with the police if it is necessary for the prevention and detection of crime. The police cannot obtain this image from anywhere else, and have clearly explained the crime under investigation in this case and how this could be relevant.

    It's an unnecessary delay, a waste of police time and court time and a waste of taxpayers money to require them to obtain a court order for something that they do have the discretion to do lawfully.

    It's worth remembering that this could just as easily exonerate the vehicle's registered keeper as a suspect as lead to an arrest.

    I agree that this smacks of Google respecting privacy only when it suits them.

    1. Kay Burley ate my hamster


      The police could just get the court order and get on with it.

      Are you saying they should have gone to the media and publicised this image? Is that the correct course of action?

      Perhaps they could get the court order and also ask for clarification of the law for any future requests.

      1. Qtoktok

        I respect your opinion but..

        No, the law is perfectly clear. It's just that the provision of data under section 29 (3) of the DPA is discretionary and Google is using its discretion to be obstructive.

        Given the cuts that are being imposed on overstretched police and court services, you would rather see public time and money wasted on unnecessary court proceedings when Google could simply provide this in a wholly lawful manner ?

        However, agreed, going to the media is a fail all round. Google get to look like they're not a bunch of data slurping info whores but the plucky guardians of privacy standing up to faceless bureaucracy, the driver of the "suspect" vehicle gets to cook up an alibi (if necessary), the family gets shoved into the spotlight whether they like it or not and the public gets to pay for a pointless pissing contest that could have been avoided if Google had the slightest interest in the crime being investigated appropriately.

        1. nsld

          not completely correct.

          The public listing of google inc for cartography with the ICO lists that they collect images of people in public places and that the exemption for law enforcement is included so if plod wanted a picture of the person they can have it on request.

          A car is not a person and the registration is personally identifiable information so the exemption in terms of the ICO registration doesnt apply to the picture of the vehicle registration. Hence the need for the court order.

          You also have to consider that this is what a defence lawyer would call a fishing expedition, there is no evidence of any illegal activity in the image.

        2. Guus Leeuw

          And yet, Qtoktok....

          If I were Google, I would obstruct to this too. Not because I wanted to show the world what a good corporate citizen I am, but simply because I promised to delete that unblurred image after 12 months.

          In other words: If google were to come up with that image, unblurred an'all, everybody would be able to *see* that google does not uphold law, privacy nor its own promises.

          The first posters saying "good for google" have had their hats skewed for even thinking google was defending the public. google is and always will be defending only themselves.

          FAIL because, Qtoktok, looking at will tell you what the case really is about...

      2. Anonymous Coward

        This isn't America

        In the US pretty much anything requires court orders and they are handed out by the courts like confetti. In the UK we practice something called consensus policing, and court orders are normally required for very serious things - they aren't handed out like confetti and require a lot of effort and court time to get. The Police are supposed to cooperate with local people and businesses to gather evidence. There are clear exemptions in Data Protection law that allow people to cooperate with the police without breaking the law.

        The key thing to remember here is that this isn't a fishing expedition. They haven't gone to Google and said, "Give us all your unblurred StreetView data so we can do a broad trawl through it to see if a crime has been committed somewhere." If they had, I would wholeheartedly support Google telling them to f-off and them waiting for a court order. In this case though they have a pretty obvious suspect who they can trivially trace if Google help them out a little. If the Police had to get a court order for every piece of evidence of this type that they collect then the courts would be jammed with those requests. Just think if the Police had to get a court order to access data from every private CCTV camera in a pub, club or restaurant when a crime has been committed.

        In this case, the only person who could reasonably give permission for Google to hand over the data is the person whose property is pictured. The person in the vehicle is on that property, so if anything Google should have asked for the permission of the home owner. Instead they are being pointlessly obstructive and wasting everyone's time.

        The Police can certainly get a court order if they wish, but I would hate to set a precedent of that sort.

  16. bob 46


    I would've been a lot more worried if the data had been handed over. Yeah, in this case it seems harmless, but if the case went to court, the defence solicitor would probably be able to get the evidence dismissed as it wasn't obtained correctly.

    Oh, and @ ge : feds? this is derbyshire - you know, in the UK. In case you're wondering where that is, its a small state in the country of London.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      what country do *you* live in ....

      "...the defence solicitor would probably be able to get the evidence dismissed as it wasn't obtained correctly"

      very very rare for a UK court to discount illegally or improperly obtained evidence. No fruit of the poison tree here.

  17. Wommit
    Big Brother

    What can I say?

    The police don't want to follow established procedure. No surprise there then.

    They (the police force) complain to the media about the 'obstructive' (my word) Google, rather than take them to court for obstructing an officer in the course of his duties. Oh...Google aren't. _THEY_ are obeying the law.

    Wasting time during an investigation. Time which could lead to the crime 'timing out'.

    How is it that I'm no longer surprised that 'our <sarcasm>wonderful</sarcasm>' police force no longer believe that the law covers them too.

    Who ever is responsible for this, and his / her supervisor and station inspector should be reduced to beat coppers. Only we don't have them any more do we? Well we need to make some cuts for the coming years budget, so there are a few shining examples of where the axe should fall.

  18. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Yes, I went there.

    I suppose if Sergei or Brin "fall down some stairs" in the local station in the next few days it will be completely coincidental.

  19. John I'm only dancing

    False plates

    More than likely the caravan taker used false plates on his vehicle so the whole process would be a complete waste of time.

    1. Ragarath


      You think police shouldn't investigate leads if they have a slight inkling that it might not lead anywhere?

      Leads lead to other leads you know.

  20. Graham Bartlett

    Can someone explain...?

    I really, really don't get this.

    The family discovers that Google has a photo of the guy stealing their van. Google has an unblurred photo which'll give you the guy's registration number, and that'll almost certainly give you his name and address. Or if not his name and address, at least they can tie up the theft of the van with the theft of the car - and who knows, perhaps he's already been nicked for nicking the car. All the cops need to do is put in a couple of days work to get a court order, and it's all tied up.

    Oh no. First off, let's issue a press report asking if anyone knows this guy. It's newsworthy so it gets in the papers, so he knows damn well they're looking for him. If he's any kind of career criminal (which seems likely if he's stealing caravans to order), this will probably result in him legging it somewhere where it'll be hard to get him back. Then let's wait around for months until he's well gone. And then let's put out another press statement saying "we can't be arsed to follow the law" and rope in an MP to spout some fatuous bullshit - oh, and warn the bloke again in the national press that they're looking for him.

    Jesus wept. Who have they got doing this investigation, the spotty fucking YTS kid on his Saturday job? If this is the standard that Derbyshire police think is acceptable for running an investigation, the whole bloody lot of them need a major kick up their fat glued-to-the-chair arses. Perhaps then they'd go and do their bloody jobs, instead of pissing and moaning about how it's so unfair that their requests for Google employees to break the Data Protection Act (criminal record, fine of up to half a million quid and possible prison sentence) are turned down, and it's *so* unfair that they might actually have to do what the law tells them to do.

    Defectives in the police farce...

    1. TimNevins
      Thumb Up

      Public show

      "the spotty YTS kid on his Saturday job"

      The 1980's called, they want their Scheme back ;)

      I think YTS would be a welcome return.

      However this is all a PR stunt.

      The cops will get their picture (with a little delay).

      Google get some cred back from a gullible public.

      In the meantime the 3 letter agencies continue to get their feed without any public dog and pony show.

      S'all good.

      1. LinkOfHyrule

        "The 1980's called"

        "The 1980's called, they want their Scheme back " LOL

        That's funny, funnier than it should be, but it is!

    2. Trevor Marron

      Only the photo does NOT show anyone stealing a caravan.

      The photo shows a man and it shows a car. It does not even show a man in a car. Unless they caught the guy with the caravan or recovered the caravan with evidence of the guy's contact with it then the photo is useless. Totally useless. And at a guess the police know this but are getting hassled about their failure to act (which they should have done when the photo came to light if they were going to act anyway.) If they did get the man then even any crap barrister would destroy the photo evidence, as there is no association with the car (if it is stolen,) or the caravan which may or may not have been in the process of being stolen when the photo was taken.

      So what do the police do to justify their own failure? They do as everyone else seems to do in this country now. They blame someone else, in this case Google.

      1. Qtoktok

        Oh of course

        Yes, obviously the police would rely solely on one photo obtained from Google to support a prosecution and would never use it to, say, check whether the vehicle in question is in fact "of interest"

    3. Qtoktok


      1. It could have been done without breaching the DPA by anyone who actually understands the law in question.

      2. Fines are only issued for serious breaches, generally involving the loss or deliberate theft/sale of personal data

      3. There are no custodial sentences for any offences under the DPA (yet), so no-one would be going to prison. The ICO would like to see sentences introduced for offences under s55 of the DPA (unlawfully obtaining personal data) but the Government has said no. Too worried about what would happen to them, probably

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MP encourages law breaking by corporation?

    Isn't it one of these new fangled 'terror' crimes to incite or encourage illegal behaviour ?

    Just why is an MP, who should be even more focused on due process than the rest of us, standing up for law breaking? Their own position should be in question now!

    1. Qtoktok

      Hysteria much?

      No. Just no. The Data Protection Act allows for Google to provide this totally lawfully. They'd just rather not.

  22. Anonymous Coward


    This is obviously far more about the Police throwing the toys out of the pram because Google didn't automatically do what they were told than actually catching criminals.

    If they cared about the crime they would have got a court order in March.

    Unfortunately ego has gotten in the way and they're far more interested in trying to throw their weight around than justice.

    And they wonder why people no longer trust the police.

    1. David Pollard

      Plus ça change ...

      Just over a decade ago the Derbyshire police re-investigated an unsolved murder with a huge DNA profiling operation. It took me a while to come to the sad realisation that while they would have liked to catch the perpetrator this was not their main objective.

      They seemed to me to have two main aims: First they wanted to paint themselves in the best light in the press and on TV in connection with a crime they had been unable to solve and where they had been stupidly illogical. Secondly they wanted to use the murder as an excuse to conduct a 'DNA trawl' - 'trawling' the DNA database was at that time not legal - among the victim's friends and associates, some of whom were known to have an involvement with recreational drugs, in the hope that they might stumble across evidence applicable to other crimes.

      And they wonder why people don't trust the police.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    write to your MP

  24. Apocalypse Later


    It does sound like they are deliberately trying to get google to bend over without due process, when quietly getting a court order would resolve the problem. Ergo- they don't want the problem solved, they want to soften up public opinion for yet more police powers to be granted.

  25. Dave Murray Silver badge

    Learn the Law coppers!

    Of course, the police can investigate crime properly but what a waste of public money in order to do that. They should just arrest the nearest shifty looking person.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Learn the Law coppers!

      >They should just arrest the nearest shifty looking person.

      From the police handbook

      They should just arrest the nearest shifty looking person who isn't a police officer, an MP nor a lodge member.


  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You've got to admire their balls!

    "we will of course co-operate with police requests as long as they are legally valid and follow the correct processes." - from the people who accidentally scarfed loads of Wireless data illegally....

    1. James Hughes 1

      Big difference

      Google accidentally grabbed the data (which may or may not have broken the law)

      Police deliberately want to bypass the law.

      1. Qtoktok

        Just plain wrong

        The ICO has ruled that Google did breach the DPA when they scarfed the data, so there is law breaking there.

        The police are not bypassing the law as Google have the discretion to provide this data lawfully. However, since Google have already shown such disdain for the DPA, we shouldn't find this surprising.

        However, the police have made themselves look thoroughly inept by allowing the to blow up in this fashion

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother

        Accidental grabbing of data?

        Please explain how is it possible to "accidentally grab the data" from wireless networks?

        Given the amount of data captured and stored by Google spymobiles, the data collection was very deliberate and systematic, never mind how much apologists such as yourself try to justify it.

    2. Robert Hill


      That was a programming mistake made by ONE programmer working in his spare time on a project. NOT a corporate strategy or intent. Pillorying them for it only makes sense if you have never made a programming mistake yourself. And there is only one type of person that has NEVER made a programming mistake: a non-programmer!

      1. MrCheese

        Oh go on Trolly, I'll take a bite...

        A global, co-ordinated data collection by software deployed to every single street view car, all perpetrated by a single rogue techie?

        Next you'll be telling me that a statement issued moments ago by Derbyshire Police formally apologises for their abject lack of knowledge of UK law and a disgraced and mis-informed Tory MP had fallen on their sword in repentance of the dis-service caused to all parties!

      2. nyelvmark

        Oh, I accidentally the whole interweb

        I agree - I was once writing a mail client program when I made a slight programming mistake and created a trojan which recruited the user's PC into a spamming botnet which I'd accidentally created whilst writing an online multi-user version of Tetrix.

        Then there was the calculate-your-own-income-tax program which accidentally downloaded child porn and sent it to your local MP.

        Real programmers make such trivial programming errors all the time.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    me too

    Cops having to comply with the law? No wonder they're squealing.

  28. AlistairJ

    Surprising really

    Surprising that the plod even bother looking for stolen caravans. I would have expected the response "If you have a caravan you should expect it to get stolen, here is your crime number, now f--- off".

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      It Was

      That was probably the answer that plod gave right up until the Google story hit the mainstream media. Then they suddenly feigned interest.

      Has it not occurred to Inspector Knacker that the 4x4 might have been stolen as well?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    "should be reduced to beat coppers."

    Never really understood why it was "reduced" to beat coppers. They may not be the most exciting, or the best paid, but they are the Force's general interface with Joe Public and therefore in principle the feet on the street, rather than some desk-bound accelerated-promotion proper-lodge tosspots, should be the most important people in the force.

    Shouldn't they?

  30. Ally J
    Thumb Up

    "What a waste of public money that would be..."

    You just have to love love love this excuse for attempting to get round the law. Maybe the person who stole the caravan can return it and use this line as an excuse to evade trial and/or imprisonment.

    "Look, they've got their caravan back, I've said I'm sorry, and we're quits. What a waste of public money a trial would be."

  31. raivn


    Judging from the picture, he's at the wrong angle to liberate the caravan.

    Looks more like he's doing a U-turn because he's lost, stopped and got out the driver side, and then fetched a map from the boot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Looks more like

      ITYF he's watching the street while trying to look innocent. His mate is ducked down in the back seat with his big bolt croppers, because the other one told him someone was coming.

    2. hstiles


      Or he could have parked car at that angle to obscure the view of the caravan from the road whilst he fetched a set of bolt cutters or similar from the boot and set to work removing the wheel clamp. Also a bit of a coincidence that the vehicle caught in the picture is a 4x4, perfect for towing a caravan. Who knows.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    due process

    for everyone except the self-important public servants. The family ought to sue for the waste of time in not just getting the photo without first getting this in the news.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    I just don't get it.

    I've watched a few movies. They can use their super unblur tools, then magnify it up to 20 mega pixels and change the contrast a bit. You just wait n see. Of course they've got to use the computer that makes beeping noises. If it doesn't make the proper beeping noises everytime you press keys then it's no good.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I just don't get it

      Some wally downvoted that. If I had faith in the ability of members of the polic force to be sufficiently well educated to be able to read I would assume that it was a police officer wot did it. However, I fear instead, I will have to lower my opinion of the average cognitive ability of the reg readership.

    2. RegGuy

      Big (big) button

      And it must have a massive Hollywood-sized button in the middle of the screen with the words 'unscramble licence plate' on it.

      1. BorkedAgain

        Get it right.

        In the Hollywood UI style guide there should be a big "Enhance" menu with "Unscramble" somewhere prominent, and the mouse pointer should be moved slowly and steadily across the screen to the menu, and hover for a fraction of a second over the unscramble before clicking it. Clicking it should cause the "unscramble" menu item to flash twice. A progress bar is *always* good.

        They should also be able to zoom in on the vehicle's tax disc and read the owner's name and address from it. Somehow.

        Icon shows the person who should be allowed to operate the mouse.

  34. Mister_C

    and if he hadn't reversed onto the drive...

    His rear number plate would have been seen by the camera and not obscured by google.

    and my next door neighbour too...

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Flasher, just not quick enough!

    Personally, looking at the photo it looks like it saw the google camera then though, I know I will pull up ahead and get my knob out for the camera just for a laugh. Only, he didn't quite unzip in time!

  36. Bugs R Us
    Thumb Up

    OMG Google is right for once

    Good for the Big G. I don't mind if my taxes are being used for the court order, it is the proper process to follow. If Big G gave into adhoc requests by the police it would set a precedent and no body wants that, apart from the police, of course.

    Amazng that the local MP doesn't seem to understand the significance either.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder

    ...if Google would have shared details of the wireless router at this address?

  38. RW

    English cops don't know their history

    After all, England is the country that chopped the head off one king to establish the principle that no one is above the law, not even the monarch. And most certainly not the coppers.

    You can argue that expelling James II from the throne was more of the same.

    Perhaps someone should send the cops copies of Dickens' "An Child's History of England" as the first step toward teaching them this important principle.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    stupid police

    to the stupid cops:

    Play by the rules, get the evidence, get the bad people, convict them.

    It is JUST THAT SIMPLE, stop wasting time trying to circumvent the LAW.

  40. LinkOfHyrule



    Hey Derbyshire Police, get a court order (that's what they're there for, situations like this where it's the only legal way of getting the information) and shut the fuck up!

    1. Qtoktok

      Duh squared

      Fact check. It's not the only legal way of getting the information. As previously mentioned, the DPA does allow Google to do this lawfully where data is required for the prevention or detection of crime.

      It's fun to know the facts about the law before telling people to STFU.

      1. BenR

        For what again?

        <quote> Fact check. It's not the only legal way of getting the information. As previously mentioned, the DPA does allow Google to do this lawfully where data is required for the prevention or detection of crime. </quote>

        1) It's not for the 'detection' of crime. The crime has already been detected by the people coming back from their hols and being sans 1No. caravan.

        2) It's not for the 'prevention' of crime. The crime has already happened, prior to the detection of said crime, as described in 1) above.


        1. Qtoktok

          Dead debate but

          Oh I see, detection never includes actually find out WHO did a crime, not just WHAT they did? Wow, makes you wonder why the police waste money training their officers to become detectives when all they really need to know is what's illegal and what's not.

          I hope you were being sarcastic because otherwise that's one of the most fatuous arguments I've seen in a long time.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    It would be sensible for them

    to enter into a protocol with British police forces to receive and acquiesce to police requests.

    Otherwise who knows what could happen to them, eh?

    AC for obvious reasons...

  42. mordac

    waste of time

    I'd be surprised if Google even have the data - why should they bother to keep both the blurred and unblurred images for all the Street View data that they have collected?

    1. Qtoktok

      That would be nice

      A good point, though the fact that they haven't told the police they no longer hold that data suggests that they do. If the police do obtain the court order only to be told that Google have deleted the original image, then Google really should be prosecuted for wasting police time.

  43. LaeMing

    Always wondered

    Can a police officer be charged with "wasting police time"? It is the public's money they are wasting in the end, so some recource for the public should be available.

  44. Grubby

    Google are right

    What right do the police have to demand data without a warrant. It's only in the news because Google are a big company but if they came knocking on your door and demanded images off your phone would it still be right?

    What if the man in the image isn't guilty? Unlikely, but not beyond reasonable doubt... which is a rather important term in law.

  45. -tim

    Wrong people asking?

    Would google provided the picture if they home owners sent in a photo of them standing in their window holding a sign saying "can you please tell the police the rego number that was here since they stole our caravan?

  46. Anonymous Coward


    "... the police can get a court order but what a waste of public money in order to do that."

    Superb stuff. We're trying to cut back expenses, so we're looking at things like due process.

  47. Leigh 5

    the Law

    Google is merely asking police to follow the law.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Do no evil .. ROFL

    well .. im sure the NSA's FBI's and other intel agencies all have their copies of the totality of the data lifted by Google at no charge , maybe if the police would ask THEM nicely , they would provide the photo at no cost and no questions asked.

    No need to follow the law when you're above it.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    No problem here chaps...

    ... given the 20%+ cut in funding, there's no money to pay for the legal proceedings necessary to obtain the required Order, so it's simple... just inform the poor sods who had the caravan stolen that it's just not cost-effective.

    Then everything is legal, and everyone is happy.. except the poor old caravan owner. Why so many people (above) expect a cash-strapped police force to make the lawyers even richer to open a line of enquiry that might not even get the required result, is nothing short of astonishing... unless, I suppose, a lot of them are m'learned colleagues from the legal profession themselves?

    And one or two American dickwits apparently haven't even spotted that this relates to something that has occurred in England (Scotland has its own completely different civil and criminal legal systems) and not in the USA.

    Qtoktok and the AC have the legal situation correctly summarised here... this isn't "confidential information", it's filming from the street, and the only legal implication is that the DPA 1998 obliges Google to process "personal data" lawfully by acting in accordance with the six statutory "Data Protection Principles" in Schedule 1 to the Act. Google *can* lawfully hand it over as outlined by Qtoktok, but they won't, and whilst they *can* say no, that doesn't then mean Derbyshire Constabulary *must* then get a Court Order... they can simply give the victim the bad news that Google's refusal will make getting the data via a Court order a prohibitively expensive process in the circumstances.

    In summary, there would be NO breach of privacy laws whatsoever if Google hands over the requested data in response to a S.29 DPA 1998 request.

  50. shade82000

    Both sides are right

    I guess that the law is the law and it applies to Google, the Police, myself and everybody else in the country. So I completely agree that Google have every right to not hand over the data to the Police without a court order. As they have indicated, there is a procedure that must be followed.

    But...if the owner of the photographed house were to request this information from Google themselves, it may put a different perspective on it. Surely if someone takes a photo that contains an image of you or your property then you must have a right to view that photo in it's unmodified form, just as you surely must have a right to ask them to delete it.

    I don't know if that is the law, it just seems logical to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Why would the property owner have the right to the unblurred image? The DPA is pretty clear on what can be done with information that would identify an individual. That information being in this case something like an unblurred face or numberplate.

      So whatever your personal judgement on logic happens to be the DPA would seem to be pretty clear on the fact that it would be illegal for Google to pass on the unblurred image to the property owner.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Since the Police play sooooo many games with regard to Data it is great that they are now experiencing the receiving side. The Police refuse to disclose data, delete data, retain data they shouldnt, etc etc etc etc tec and yet they are so arrogant as to expect Google to waive all laws and disclose data without a Court order. Leaving the afore aside, they surely do not need a Court Order when data is to prevent or detect crime, as there is a waiver for that in the DPA 1998 and only needs a request to be made in proper form. Barring that it would take 1 day to draft an Order and get it granted by a Practice Master at the High Court so where is the big problem ?.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A challenge

    A challenge. Give me any IP address with a message or something complained of and within 1 day I could get an Order that the ISP provide me with the name and address of the poster/user belonging to that IP. It's that simple ,so why cant police do it ?.

  53. Spider

    Don't know who to boo the most...

    the orwellian thought police who think due process is optional and doesn't apply to them, or their lodge buddies... or the hypocritical globo-corp bastards who illegally slurp personal data and then refuse to simply hit delete when they are forced to admit it...

    nope. score draw. a pox on the pair of them.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Confused Complaints

    Some people here are beginning to sound a bit confused, to be frank. Some of you don't seem to know what you want to complain about.

    Is it that we live in a police state? Clearly we don't, otherwise there'd be no need for a court order at all: the police would *be* the courts.

    Is it that the police have gone to the media asking for assistance with this? Nothing unusual there: it's rare that newspapers go a day without a police appeal for help with something or other. As to the argument that the police have taken their dispute with Google public, it's not at all clear from the article that that's what's happened. To me, it looks as though it's this MP that's made the statement to the local paper, not the police. Did they ask her to do so? The article doesn't say, so we can only make assumptions on that point.

    Is the complaint that the police have requested the information *without* the court order? Nothing unusual there: there's absolutely no law against a request for voluntary co-operation being made first. If the police want to search a house, they're quite within their rights to knock on the door and ask even before they get a warrant.

    For that matter, there's no legal reason why Google shouldn't co-operate with that request, since, as mentioned already, the law allows companies to hand information over voluntarily to law enforcement agencies investigating an offence.

    Google might have purely ethical reasons for objection - but really, is that realistic? And in any case, what *is* the ethical position to take here? It's incumbent on UK citizens to assist the police in their investigations where possible - that's the basis of the very policing-by-consent that many of you are appealing to - and there's no reason why a foreign company operating here couldn't cite that very principle as a reason for releasing the information. It's arguable whether a bureaucratic adherence to the letter of the law is more moral in this case than voluntary co-operation.

    Also, the complaints here about the police 'accessing confidential data' don't wash, since Google collected all these images - including people's faces, houses, cars, driveways, gardens, and so on - without *any* requests for permission from the people whose persons and property they were imaging. Their only concession to people's right to control their data is to allow them to demand blurring or removal *after* the images have already been collected and published online. The justification used in defence of Street View - that Google only photographed what someone on the street could see - is the *very same reason* why it's no use congratulating Google now for supposedly 'protecting confidential data'. Either Google were entitled to collect the images, in which case it's not confidential, or it is confidential, in which case Google shouldn't have it in the first place.

    Finally, don't forget that, despite the very first line of the article referring to 'private data', what's actually being asked for here is an image of a *registration plate*. This doesn't in itself identify the person standing next to the vehicle; nor does it directly identify the owner or registered keeper of that vehicle. To find the registered keeper, the police would have to run the number through the Police National Computer which they have a *statutory authority to do*, because you operate a vehicle on British roads only under licence from the state. Therefore the state, in the form of the police and other agencies, have certain set rights and powers with regard to motor vehicles. The question of this being 'private data' at all is very much open to debate.

    1. NorthernMonkey
      Thumb Up

      The bicycle is required, and must contain lettuce and/or midgets.

      Good post.

      The theme of some of the commenters here appears to be that the Police are doing somehting underhanded or inefficient in requesting the data from Google without resorting to an Order. This is simply not true. It's far more efficient to ask Google to provide the image (which could either be done voluntarily or under the protection of the DPA exemption) than to spend more time than is necessary going to court.

      Shame on Google for not supplying the information. If it was an image where there would be a reasonable expectation of privacy then I'd have a bit more sympathy for their argument (notwithstanding the fact that they shouldn't really be invading privacy) but that's just not the case here.

      Seems the Police are a bit damned if they do and damned if they don't. As a general question, do readers think that the Reg comments shows a certain anti-Police bias these days?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Guy in the Image should contact Google

      Prove who he is and request deletion!

    3. Grease Monkey Silver badge


      If the police want to search your house they need a search warrant. This is a form of court order. There is very little difference between this situation and that requiring a search warrant.

      Google would be setting a dangerous precedent if they were to hand over the required image without a court order.

  55. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Court Order

    Does the fact that the Police are bleating about this suggest that either they have been refused a court order, or perhaps do not think they have sufficient grounds to be granted one?

    Do they have any evidence at all that the bloke in the picture actually took the caravan? Do they even know the image was captured on the day the caravan was stolen?

    The big issue here however is not the behaviour of the police. I'm sure I remember reading that Google had promised to delete the unblurred images as soon as the blurred ones were created. If they have the unblurred image available then they are breaking their own promises. No surprise there then.

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