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Greece Halts Google's Street View 192

Posted by kdawson
from the keep-the-lens-caps-on dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Greece's Data Protection Authority, which has broad powers of enforcement for Greece's strict privacy laws, has banned Google from gathering detailed, street-level images in Greece for a planned expansion of its Street View mapping service, until the company provides clarification on how it will store and process the original images and safeguard them from privacy abuses. The decision comes despite Google's assurances that it would blur faces and vehicle license plates when displaying the images online and that it would promptly respond to removal requests. In most cases, particularly in the US, Google has been able to proceed on grounds that the images it takes are no different from what someone walking down a public street can see and snap. And last month, Britain's privacy watchdog dismissed concerns that Street View was too invasive, saying it was satisfied with such safeguards as obscuring individuals' faces and car license plates. The World Privacy Forum, a US-based nonprofit research and advisory group, said the Greek decision could raise the standard for other countries and help challenge that argument. 'It only takes one country to express a dissenting opinion,' says Pam Dixon, the group's executive director. 'If Greece gets better privacy than the rest of the world then we can demand it for ourselves. That's why it's very important.'"
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Greece Halts Google's Street View

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  • lunacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:12AM (#27935739) Journal

    I to love how people have no problem with police videotaping you/preventing you from videotaping with an excuse of terrorism just to cover their asses while everyone panics over a google streetview of a public area.

    • Re:lunacy (Score:5, Funny)

      by xp (146294) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:17AM (#27935781) Homepage Journal

      Maybe the Greeks are worried Google's van is a trojan horse.
      --
      Are you slow? [pair.com]

      • by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @09:26AM (#27936617) Homepage

        Maybe they fear Google, wherever or not Google brings presents.

        • All should fear Googol the Destroyer [slashdot.org]!

          (Don't forget to tune into next week's episode, where the reader will find out how Joba and Gatus's plan is developing, what Stallmax has been working on in his secret laboratory, and we discover a clue to help unlock the mystery of that which lies beneath his Beard of Druidic Prowess).
      • Just to cut short the "Geeks bearing gifts" jokes series, may I direct you to this prior exchange [slashdot.org]?
    • Re:lunacy (Score:5, Informative)

      by niceone (992278) * on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:18AM (#27935785) Journal

      I to love how people have no problem with police videotaping you

      To be fair to Greece's Data Protection Authority, they do have a problem with police videoing people and have stopped the government using street cameras to fight crime as well.

      • by xlotlu (1395639)

        To be fair to Greece's Data Protection Authority, they do have a problem with police videoing people and have stopped the government using street cameras to fight crime as well.

        Let's all move to Greece..

      • by b4upoo (166390)

        Why is filming people a problem? Anything in public view should be fair game to publish on the net. If people put themselves in embarrassing positions why is it wrong to expose them?

        • Re:lunacy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @09:48AM (#27936895)

          The world doesn't run by your standards! In greece people do not want picture of them in public view published on the internet, so they have passed laws/etc to prevent it. If you don't like it move to...

        • I am particularly offended that insurance companies, con men, spammers and stalkers can take a look at my house that cheaply, work for it dammit!. Google, and facebook (which I don't even use but doesn't prevent my "friends" to upload photos of me) are lowering the barrier to entry to scams and such behavior.

          Also I am worried about both those "accidental" moments Google breaches into private property and the whole slippery slope because you know they won't be happy until they know everything about everybody

        • Muhaa... I go full attack on such things. :D

          I will not be ashamed. I do not care. I will put a picture for them to record, that will make you wish you could unsee it, even after you come back from the eye operation and heart transplantation center. Even the goatse guy will thank me for taking the heat off of him. :D

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by janrinok (846318)

          You might not have RTFA, but the Greeks are NOT complaining about the filming per se, but they want to be reassured that the data collected will be protected in accordance with current European law. For example, police recordings are protected or, at least, they have made a case for how they will protect the data which has satisfied the appropriate legal bodies. However, Google has not convinced the Greek authorities that it will provide adequate protection of its data.

          Now this might not worry you. But i

        • Re:lunacy (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @01:42PM (#27940549)

          Anything in public view should be fair game to publish on the net.

          Why?

          There is a difference between one person incidentally observing something while going about their daily business and having a commercial organisation with vast resources deliberately and systematically collect information about the entire world and then provide it in a permanent, publicly available, searchable form that anyone can use for any purpose.

          Well, actually, that's at least seven qualitative differences.

          If you really can't see why those differences matter or why it might be better to consider one form of behaviour antisocial and legislate accordingly, then I invite you to have some random stranger follow you around every time you go out in public, running a live video feed on the Internet, looking over your shoulder every time you enter a PIN or sign your name to make a card purchase or withdraw cash, cataloguing every road you follow and the times you've been there, looking up the identity of every person you meet and sticking their name and face up there as well. Then when you get home, they can wait outside your house in a public space, and use high resolution video equipment to look through your windows (or any gaps if you close the blinds/curtains) and film whatever you're doing on your computer, whoever is getting changed upstairs, who's visited you and when, and anything else they can see. After all, this is all stuff that you've done that's visible from a public place, so in your world it seems everyone in the universe has a right to see it.

          If people put themselves in embarrassing positions why is it wrong to expose them?

          Because everyone makes mistakes, and perhaps the world would be a nicer place if they didn't have to suffer for them publicly, universally and eternally?

    • I to love how people have no problem with police videotaping you/preventing you from videotaping with an excuse of terrorism just to cover their asses while everyone panics over a google streetview of a public area.

      The police don't (usually) put it on the internet where everyone can see it.

      I'm not saying they're right or wrong, but it is different.

      • You're right, it is worse: in the case of the police, you have no knowledge or oversight of what data is being gathered or how it is used.

        I object to the legal double standard. We should have one law for everyone, be they Google, a casual photographer, a policeman (sans warrant), or the government itself.

    • too many don't have a problem with THEIR government doing it.

      Of course I have a problem with it, but I was born and raised in the United States and frankly trust Google (or other corporation) more than I trust the Government. Considering my government's willingness to spend me and my children into debt for the foreseeable future I doubt that my view will change.

      Throw in the fact that far too many people think they have much more privacy than they truly do... totally forgetting how much information not usin

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by moon3 (1530265)
      The real reason for ban is quite different, the new street view used in Europe has hell of a resolution, meaning Greece tourism can be in danger, you can go around all the famous places from the comfort of your PC.

      I roamed around Napoli (Italy) the other day, and even get texture grade quality facades from zoomed details for our project. SV is really an amazing tool.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pnewhook (788591)

        The real reason for ban is quite different, the new street view used in Europe has hell of a resolution, meaning Greece tourism can be in danger, you can go around all the famous places from the comfort of your PC.

        You're kidding, right?

        If you think a bunch of pictures is a good substitute for actually visiting a place, then you haven't really traveled. You must also think that a movie or Cliff notes are good substitutes for a book.

        I do agree SV is an amazing tool, and I think it would increase tourism, not derease it, much in the same way books/brochures in a travel office do.

      • by kalirion (728907)

        Seriously, that's why all the great Spring Break spots hate the Travel Channel. Oh wait....

      • by MindKata (957167) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @11:31AM (#27938483) Journal
        "you can go around all the famous places from the comfort of your PC"

        That's not going to stop tourism. If anything its going to greatly encourage tourism. I've just been driving down a road in Rome, then I jumped to Paris and crossed the Seine. All within a few minutes. My first thought was I wish I was there for real.

        I can understand Greek fears of wanting to maintain privacy of buildings and routes behind buildings etc... Although that is security through obscurity, which is a very weak form of protection. If anything if crooks can find a way in via Street View its stress testing houses to become physically more secure.

        Also all privacy is ultimately an attempt at protection against exploitation. So privacy isn't such a problem, its how it can be exploited. I think how someone can exploit a new technology gives a clear distinction of if its a good or a potentially bad new technology to implement. I don't think all Big Brother technology is a bad thing. (I would say that Big Brother technology that can cause greater political and/or commercial corruption to grow is bad, as that opens up ever greater exploitation of people without power to resist or stop being exploited or outright abused (e.g. Phorm and all DPI technology is a good example of an outright violation of privacy for the financial gain of just the few who run and control that technology). However I don't think Street View is such a technology. Sure it could be exploited by someone looking to break in, but security through obscurity is already a weak protection. Crooks have found it no trouble to break into houses for centuries. Better to stress test building security now and sort it out.

        Also I think one of most important aspects of Google Street View is its historical importance. Imagine say in 100 years from now the historical importance of being able to view cities all over the world as they were once decades before. It'll obviously take decades to build up such a detailed history of changes, but future generations are going to love being able to see how previous generations lived. I wish I could view my city decades or even centuries ago. (Imagine for example future Google searches back through all this data to dig up views of a house you are interested in buying back throughout its entire existence, from the moment it was built right up to the present day).

        Future generations are going to be able to look back like never before with Google Street View data. I think its utterly fascinating just how much potential this data has to allow future generations to look back at us and how we live now.
      • meaning Greece tourism can be in danger

        Is this seriously a reason worthy of consideration? I'd like to meet the jackass who says "Eh, I don't need to go to Greece, I'll just drive around it on Google Street View!" There are millions of pictures of probably everything you'd want to see in Greece and anywhere else in the world that you could find on the Internet. If anything, it only promotes tourism because you see the beautiful things you're missing out on at home.

    • Re:lunacy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ecuador (740021) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @09:48AM (#27936875) Homepage

      You are referring to US practices when the article is about Greece, where for example the "Personal Data Protection Authority" has power over courts & the Police. So far they have disallowed cameras from being used at streets [xblog.gr], deny requests even by embassies [www.tvxs.gr] for outside cams, do not allow cameras in schools [kazam.gr] (they say have private guards if you want to thinkofthechildren). Sorry but all links are in Greek.

      Personally, I'd rather there were cameras in public places, since that might allow the very ineffective Greek police to catch a bad guy or two once in a while. I mean, they ARE public areas, if you want privacy stay in your hut.

      And to make it clear, in Greece as in most other countries outside the US, "terrorism" is no excuse for anything, certainly not for the police. The "you are subject to search" big-brotheresque messages I hear every day in the NYC subway are not common in other countries, which is why I hate it that such things are taken for granted here. Yeah, for our protection. Right.

    • Re:lunacy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @10:16AM (#27937293)

      I to love how people have no problem with police videotaping you/preventing you from videotaping with an excuse of terrorism just to cover their asses while everyone panics over a google streetview of a public area.

      Pretty much everyone has a problem with both. The article mentions Google's usual argument that they're not showing anything that can't be seen by taking a walk down the street. Similarly, there's nothing that can be seen by 10 hovering cameras surrounded every person's head recording every visual and audio detail of his public time for permanent display on the internet that can't be seen by walking down the street while watching and listening.

      I don't think their argument works.

      • by brunes69 (86786)

        There is a big difference between taking a bunch of pictures of buildings and posting them online than posting live video online.

        Once faces and license plates are blurred, all Street View is is LITERALLY a bunch of pictures of buildings. All it really is is Photobucket in a nice UI.

        I don't fathom why people think it has anything to do with privacy at all.

  • Don't the cars have big masts on them for the camera? They see into places you can't see walking down the street.
    • by masterfpt (1435165) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:38AM (#27935965) Journal

      If you think this [googlified.com] is a "big mast"...

      Any average tall adult could take pictures that high...

      • by Spatial (1235392)
        The masts vary in height, most of them are much higher than that. Have a look for yourself. [google.ie]

        Actually the one you linked is the lowest I've seen so far. You picked out the lowest one you could find, didn't you? Naughty! [wikipedia.org]
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Don't the cars have big masts on them for the camera? They see into places you can't see walking down the street.

      I saw a pic of a UK car, has like a 2' mast on an estate. Not very tall. The USA van [csueastbay.edu] just has a lump on the top, a lifted truck or an RV or bus would let someone see just as much.

  • So very stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:17AM (#27935771) Homepage Journal

    If you outlaw street-level imagery, only outlaws will have street-level imagery. Security through obscurity never works. Don't do things in public if you don't want people to see them. If you want to keep people off your driveway, install a gate. Close your fucking curtains! It's already safest to assume that everyone has a camera, because practically everyone does.

    • by Jurily (900488)

      Close your fucking curtains! It's already safest to assume that everyone has a camera, because practically everyone does.

      Also, there is the issue of what Greece will do if they find out Google is keeping detailed imagery against the ban. Sue them in the US?

      And of course duch data is already collected by satellites that don't exist officially.

    • by achurch (201270)

      Close your fucking curtains!

      That's a really sad statement on the state of society. Whatever happened to quiet, friendly communities where you can throw your windows open to let in the fresh air and chat with passersby?

      Oh well, I suppose that once the next few crops of children grow up with no privacy, nobody who'd miss it will be around anymore.

      • Re:So very stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:45AM (#27936033) Homepage Journal

        That's a really sad statement on the state of society. Whatever happened to quiet, friendly communities where you can throw your windows open to let in the fresh air and chat with passersby?

        People started walking around naked in their living rooms! It used to be practically a sin to go to bed naked. Now people want extra privacy! I mean, I like doing this myself, but if my hairy ass ends up on the goog as a result, I have only myself to blame.

        A lot of people have also decided that they want more than the baseline of privacy. For instance, it was once considered polite to invite people into your front room to talk; it was decorated and organized to receive strangers. These days there's ample reason NOT to let anyone into your house... The interior of the house has become a more private space. But then people don't want people to look into their private space, and that is just stupid.

        Google isn't looking at anything you can't see from a legally-sized vehicle on a public road. If you have something private that can be seen from that vantage, you're not very smart.

        • by achurch (201270)

          Google isn't looking at anything you can't see from a legally-sized vehicle on a public road. If you have something private that can be seen from that vantage, you're not very smart.

          I think we'll have to agree to disagree there; that's the part I find sad, if perhaps inevitable. I would like to have seen more "gentlemanly restraint", so to speak, as opposed to "we can do this so we will".

          • by pnewhook (788591)

            I think we'll have to agree to disagree there; that's the part I find sad, if perhaps inevitable. I would like to have seen more "gentlemanly restraint", so to speak, as opposed to "we can do this so we will".

            Just like you CAN legally own a half dozen assault rifles with a few thousand rounds of ammunition, but you probably SHOULDN'T (or need to).

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Just like you CAN legally own a half dozen assault rifles with a few thousand rounds of ammunition, but you probably SHOULDN'T (or need to).

              How the fuck did you turn this into an argument about gun control? I propose that we refer to this action as "Hestoning", similiar to invoking Godwin.

              • by pnewhook (788591)

                How the fuck did you turn this into an argument about gun control? I propose that we refer to this action as "Hestoning", similiar to invoking Godwin.

                It's called a comparison. It's done to help you better understand the stupidity of your argument.

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  It's called a comparison. It's done to help you better understand the stupidity of your argument.

                  No, it really isn't. It's done to push your anti-gun agenda. See, I believe that having a half-dozen assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition is the only way you might actually have a chance at fulfilling the purpose of the second amendment. Of course, you don't need all of them yourselves, unless you've been designated as the armory for your group of well-armed citizens and patriots.

                  You stated an opinion of yours as fact in order to back another opinion as if it were fact. This is clearly a log

                  • by pnewhook (788591)

                    No, thats not what I'm doing.

                    You stated just because people can take pictures of everything and publish them, they probably shouldn't. I merely pointed out the same argument but replacing cameras with guns. At no point did I state my position on gun control.

                    Then like a true red state Republican you made ridiculous assumptions and attacked me. Good job at pretending its all my fault though.

                    • by drinkypoo (153816)

                      You stated just because people can take pictures of everything and publish them, they probably shouldn't.

                      No, that was achurch [slashdot.org]. Also, that's not what they said at all. They said (loosely) that the ability to do a thing is not sufficient justification to do it. What you just said is something else entirely.

                      Then like a true red state Republican you made ridiculous assumptions and attacked me. Good job at pretending its all my fault though.

                      Too bad for you I'm a registered member of the Scorched Earth party, and live in California.

                      What I said originally is that since it could happen, it WILL happen. What achurch said is that he would rather that not be true. Then you came in out of left field with your comment on assault rifles, which was complet

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            I think we'll have to agree to disagree there

            You think it's smart do to private things in public? I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree. (Or you're going to have to work on your English.)

            • by achurch (201270)

              You think it's smart do to private things in public? I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree. (Or you're going to have to work on your English.)

              Actually, I was disagreeing with your entire premise that privacy must be explicitly claimed rather than implicitly given, and in particular that Google's ability to implement Street View implies the propriety of doing so. But if you insist on misinterpreting my intent through an over-literal reading, far be it from me to stop you.

              (Alternatively, I suppose it's possible IHBT, in which case I'll submit that IHL.)

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Actually, I was disagreeing with your entire premise that privacy must be explicitly claimed rather than implicitly given,

                It's obviously true, however. If you were meant to have a natural right to privacy, you'd be a chameleon.

                and in particular that Google's ability to implement Street View implies the propriety of doing so.

                More problems with English! Here's what I actually said: Google isn't looking at anything you can't see from a legally-sized vehicle on a public road. If you have something private that can be seen from that vantage, you're not very smart. Here's what you think it means: There is nothing objectionable about Google's mapping. Here's what it actually meant: Whether google is justified in photographing you

      • by plover (150551) *

        Close your fucking curtains!

        That's a really sad statement on the state of society.

        Must every statement on Slashdot be misinterpreted to the maximum amount permitted by ridiculous thought? This isn't a rigid, unchangeable state. The curtains aren't welded shut, only to be opened or closed on the demand of your government or church. They're curtains! You can open and close them on your schedule. When you feel social, throw them open. If you require privacy, close them. When the sun shines, open them. When it's bedtime, close them.

        It's just a simple concept that's not making a so

        • by achurch (201270)

          Must every statement on Slashdot be misinterpreted to the maximum amount permitted by ridiculous thought?

          I don't know, but you seem to be doing a fine job of it.

          I think the divide between me and the OP is like the difference between advisory and mandatory file locks. I see privacy as, at least in part, an issue of politeness: certain things (like the insides of people's homes, regardless of whether people happen to be naked there) are commonly understood to be private, and violating that privacy by e.g. taking pictures and posting them is frowned upon, even if technically possible/legal. Arguments like that

      • by pnewhook (788591)

        That's a really sad statement on the state of society. Whatever happened to quiet, friendly communities where you can throw your windows open to let in the fresh air and chat with passersby? Oh well, I suppose that once the next few crops of children grow up with no privacy, nobody who'd miss it will be around anymore.

        Well the last time I visited the US I was appalled at how many bars there were on the windows of houses, that didn't seem very friendly. You almost never see that here in Canada, even in the big cities like Toronto.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by achurch (201270)

          Well the last time I visited the US I was appalled at how many bars there were on the windows of houses, that didn't seem very friendly. You almost never see that here in Canada, even in the big cities like Toronto.

          Where did you see them, out of curiosity? I honestly can't recall seeing such while I lived in the US (though I never visited the really big cities like New York or Chicago).

          • by pnewhook (788591)

            Where did you see them, out of curiosity? I honestly can't recall seeing such while I lived in the US (though I never visited the really big cities like New York or Chicago).

            Florida and California mostly. In what I thought looked like safe neighborhoods.

      • by TCM (130219)

        I noticed that many Americans have this non-differentiating view and are unable to think about issues in different scales.

        It's one thing to have your window open and a single bypasser peeking inside briefly. It's a whole different thing to have a corporation do this on a large scale backed by limitless computational resources and publishing the results on the Internet.

        It's one thing to have J Random Clerk in the store next door see what you buy and like and recommending you a magazine for example. It's a wh

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      To be fair, the debate is whether or not to allow exhaustive street-level imagery. No one is suggesting making photographs from public locations illegal in general. (Well, some police forces actually are, but that's a separate debate...)

      So in other words, you should say: "If you outlaw the acquisition and distribution of exhaustive street-level imagery, only outlaws will produce and distribute exhaustive street-level imagery."

      Again, the debate is about whether doing something legal to an exhaustive extent (

      • Re:So very stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:49AM (#27936063) Homepage Journal

        so I hope society can reach a compromise that allows these images to be available without unduly infringing on anyone's privacy.

        There already IS a compromise like that, it's called what google is already doing. Google is NOT infringing on anyone's privacy because by definition anything that they are photographing is visible from a public thoroughfare. They are trampling some people's mistaken assumptions about privacy, though. Here's a hint: if you want something to be private, you don't do it in public.

        The amount of data should not even be considered as a factor; if one person did what google is doing in every state of a nation, would that be too much data in one place? What if it was one person per city? Now, imagine that those people link their map sites together seamlessly. What's the difference between that and what we have now? That google did it for us?

        • How about you let the people of Greece decide what THEY consider a compromise?

        • by mike2R (721965)

          There already IS a compromise like that, it's called what google is already doing. Google is NOT infringing on anyone's privacy because by definition anything that they are photographing is visible from a public thoroughfare.

          You do know that Greece isn't in the USA?

          It may surprise you, but there are some other countries around that have a culture and history even older than the US! Really!!

          And, shocking as this surely is to any right-thinking person, sometimes they come up with their own laws, customs and a

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            All right, this is the last idiotic comment like this that I'm replying to on this subject. Congratulations!

            The time is fast approaching when someone will be able to do this themselves without being detected using tiny cameras hidden around an ordinary vehicle, and off the shelf software. Is Greece planning to prevent google from providing every citizen with detailed street-level imagery when any citizen can gather the information themselves? All they will do is create a black market for street-level imager

            • by mike2R (721965)

              The time is fast approaching when someone will be able to do this themselves without being detected using tiny cameras hidden around an ordinary vehicle, and off the shelf software. Is Greece planning to prevent google from providing every citizen with detailed street-level imagery when any citizen can gather the information themselves? All they will do is create a black market for street-level imagery; black markets provide income to criminals, especially when the barrier is high, because then only organiz

        • by houghi (78078)

          The Greek people beg to differ.

    • by Zebedeu (739988)

      Security through obscurity never works.

      This isn't about security, it's about privacy.

  • Greek Tourists Now Prohibited From Taking Photos In Public Places!

    • Re:Breaking News! (Score:5, Informative)

      by iainl (136759) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:25AM (#27935855)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by esme (17526)

        Can you really blame them for not believing that "normal" Britons go around looking at planes on military bases and keeping track of the call letters in their little books? While on vacation to Greece?

        I certainly think the British government should have applied more pressure to get them out of jail sooner. But you have to admit their behavior was suspicious.

  • Britain (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ogive17 (691899) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:22AM (#27935823)
    Is anyone surprised Britain is ok with it? They've apparently been desensitized.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Smivs (1197859)

      Yeah, streetview is great. Us Brits can check up on all the CCTV cameras from the comfort of our armchairs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I think most Britain's hold the view, that what you do in public is public and what you do in a shop can be recorded by the store owners for whatever means they see fit. IMO this is a good deal, however some people are unhappy and looking for more privacy in public places (less CCTV) and thats also cool, it appears that the greek have a somewhat different balance and would rather not have thier public spaces photographed by streetview and IMO that is also fine.

  • Which?... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:33AM (#27935913)
    Which would you prefer, a world in which you know you'll never stumble upon a picture of your home or car or face on the internet because your privacy is so secure or a world in which it is illegal for you to take a photo outdoors because you may have someone's home, car, or face in the frame and thus be breaking privacy laws? That's an important question for you to ask yourself before you take a stance on this issue...
    • by warlock (14079)

      I prefer a world in which people read the fine article and don't pose black vs white questions. The Greek Data Protection Agency doesn't want to stop Google Street View from doing its thing in Greece; they merely temporarily suspended their operations and asked for some clarifications, most important being the precise security measures taken by Google to ensure that photographs taken by their vehicles will not be leaked before the processing for face blurring, wether they plan to keep or destroy the origina

    • by Eil (82413)

      It's not nearly so black-and-white as that.

      There's never been a problem with people and companies taking a few photos (or even a lot of photos for a specific reason) of public areas either legally or socially. There is, however, a problem with a company roaming every back alley and subdivision for the sole purpose of "we just wanna put it all online". It violates the spirit of privacy, if not the letter of the law currently.

      I love street view and have used it many times, but I think areas zoned as residenti

  • Extremism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Option1 (572066) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:42AM (#27936019)

    I really am bemused by the extreme ranges of responses to this story. It seems that there is only either end of the spectrum - "Yay, for Greek Government for protecting our privacy" to "I trust Google more than I trust any government" - and almost no middle ground. Have we really become that fractured and that single-minded about things?

    Neil

    • by Bucc5062 (856482)

      Have we really become that fractured and that single-minded about things?

      Neil

      Sadly, yes we have. It is hard to say why other then in a complicated world, some people want simple answers. There is a longer explanation, but that would to complicated and reasoned for much of the population.

      (God, I really have become a cynic...sigh)

  • by JerryQ (923802) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:52AM (#27936103)
    Years ago I built a panoramic, stereographic photography system (spaceshot) and also did a great deal of work with rendering and measuring spaces using stereo images. This leads me to the following theory, which, if Google are NOT doing what I describe here would be pretty damn surprising. J from: http://jerrykew.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] If you have a perfect spherical photo of a city, taken at equidistant intervals, then you have the necessary information (think stereo images) to reverse engineer the 3D form of the city. Google will build a virtual version of every city, and we will click on objects in that 'space' to go to sites. PPC ads will follow in the space, and thus their investment in Google Maps, Earth, Sketchup and Streetview will deliver their returns. I am sure they will be playing with it now in their labs.
    • You mean like this [google.com]? That's San Francisco in google maps. Here's Atlanta [google.com], same thing. All the buildings are 3-D representations. Granted, that's not quite what you describe, which is more like William Gibson's version of the internet. But, between this and street view, I bet this is not outside the realm of possibility.
  • Bribe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @08:54AM (#27936131)

    This is Greece we're talking about. Google just hasn't bribed the right person yet. This is just part of the procedure to extract money from foreign nationals.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xlotlu (1395639)

      Oh take off your US-manufactured tinfoil hat. From TFA:

      The authority has repeatedly ruled against Greece's conservative government and banned the use of street cameras for fighting crime. The cameras were set up as part of elaborate security preparations for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

      It also clashed with the Greek Orthodox Church after it ruled that recording Greek citizens' religion on state ID cards was illegal.

      If only more countries had such agencies...

    • by pnewhook (788591)

      This is Greece we're talking about. Google just hasn't bribed the right person yet. This is just part of the procedure to extract money from foreign nationals.

      I believe you are thinking of Turkey or India.

  • by xlotlu (1395639) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @09:04AM (#27936301)
    So (emphasis mine),

    DPA said it wanted clarification from the U.S. Internet company on how it will store and process the original images and safeguard them from privacy abuses

    despite

    Google's assurances that it would blur faces and vehicle license plates when displaying the images online.

    The question is then, does Google store the images with faces and license plates blurred, or that's just post-processing for online display?

    Google's statement definitely tends to point at the latter. And I could see a few problems there.

    • by giorgist (1208992)
      No camera on the planet automatically does this blurring. So there is at a minimum a transition between unblurred and blurred photos.

      You depend on good faith alone that the unblurred photos are destroyed.
  • 2 different things (Score:2, Informative)

    by tonylemesmer (48775)

    The Greeks would seem to be specifically asking about how the __original__ images are to be handled, not just how the images which eventually make onto the service will be presented. 2 different things.

  • While Ms Dixon states it almost as a pre-established fact, I'm not sure one can assert "It only takes one country to express a dissenting opinion".

    North Korea, China, Iran...there are a quick handful of countries who would quite clearly 'dissent', yet I don't see case law being formulated to accommodate their views.

    The whole "right" to privacy is a vague and questionable concept anyway. Clearly it doesn't apply where lawbreaking is concerned (not many people are murdered in public; ergo someone's privacy m

    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      Regarding #3, I would think that article 4 of the US constitution applies: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures..." It might not apply to all aspects of item #3, but I think it would apply at least to some, no?
    • by Rycross (836649)

      Well despite the fact that Amendment #4 is generally taken to cover privacy of your person as well, a right doesn't have to be in the Constitution to be a right. Your line of reasoning is exactly the reason why the Federalists did not want to put in the Bill of Rights in the first place. Fortunately for us, when they put in the Bill of Rights, they also put in the 9th Amendment as a compromise:

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

      • by argStyopa (232550)

        You are absolutely, totally 100% right. The US Constitution doesn't grant us rights, it really only circumscribes the power of the government vis a vis the people. Whether a Right is listed in the Bill of Rights is only really a commentary by the framers on the Rights that they thought were most likely to be curtailed by governments, and thus worthy of explicit listing. It is NOT an exclusive listing of rights, in any way.

        My point, however, was that simply asserting a right exists doesn't ipso facto make

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @10:08AM (#27937175)

    The decision comes despite Google's assurances that it would blur faces and vehicle license plates when displaying the images online and that it would promptly respond to removal requests.

    So while I can go to my house and request that google blur the license plate of my car in my driveway. How else do I find my license plate in the pictures that are not of my driveway? Do I have to now check out ALL of the various gas stations, supermarkets, parking lots etc... that my car could have been photographed? What about all the highways and streets that I've driven?

    It seems that google is saying in the above quote, "If you can find something you don't like, then we'll blur it.

    It's very possible (how ever probably) that someone could be convicted (or proven innocent) because their license plate was in various street view maps.

    While I do like streetview because it allows me to see what a give store/location actually looks like before I drive there. It also enables "evil doers" to see that type of car that everyone on my street has, or parks in their driveway. And very easily compare it against the hundreds of other streets in the area. Sure criminals could do this by hand, but in this case it doesn't require the criminal to fly from NY to SanFrancisco and drive around with a camera. They just open up a web browser and put in various addresses to mine the database for neighborhoods with Porsches in the driveway.

    Does google have any safeguards in place from someone recording all sorts of data/screenshots and running OCR on them? To record thousands of license plates? I wonder what privacy advocates would think if they knew that one could build a database of "License Plate & Street Address" Sure there would be some margin for error (say when your car is at another house, but I'd bet those building this database are willing to live with that.

    Google should be by default blurring all license plates and faces. I haven't seen a reason yet justifying why they need to display either faces or license plates.

  • by divisionbyzero (300681) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @10:23AM (#27937399)

    This is ridiculous. It's one snapshot taken at a more or less random time. How is this an invasion of privacy when the picture is taken in a public place? Total idiocy.

  • by pentalive (449155) on Wednesday May 13, 2009 @12:19PM (#27939183) Journal

    In most cases, particularly in the US, Google has been able to proceed on grounds that the images it takes are no different from what someone walking down a public street can see and snap.

    Google Street view is completed unlike a person walking down the street, perhaps even if they have a camera.

    One, I don't seem to have the entire web-viewing population of the earth marching by my home on the sidewalk. The pictures Google may take are available to anyone who cares to look.

    Two, of those that do come by many of them do not have 'photographic' memories. (and don't seem to be snapping pictures of each and every house they pass).

    Three, Even walking down the street looking at each house, one does not expect the person walking to remember many of the details for as long as they will be displayed on Google Maps.

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