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Censorship Google Your Rights Online

German Photog Wants to Shoot Buildings Excluded From Street View 327

Posted by timothy
from the irregular-shoot-'em-up dept.
crf00 writes with this report excerpted from Blogoscoped: "'Spiegel reports that German photographer and IT consultant Jens Best wants to personally take snapshots of all those (German) buildings which people asked Google Street View to remove. He then wants to add those photos to Picasa, including GPS coordinates, and in turn re-connect them with Google Maps. Jens believes that for the internet 'we must apply the same rules as we do in the real world. Our right to take panoramic snapshots, for instance, or to take photographs in public spaces, both base laws which determine that one may photograph those things that are visible from public streets and places.' Jens says that for his belief in the right of photographing in public places, as last resort he's even willing to go to jail. Spiegel says Jens already found over 200 people who want to help out in this project and look for removed locations in Google Street View, as there's no official list of such places published by Google."
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German Photog Wants to Shoot Buildings Excluded From Street View

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  • by mysidia (191772) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @10:57PM (#33310078)

    The manually taken photos were of higher quality, and more detail than the Google streetview ones. Then the request to remove from streetview........ could result in more detailed imagery of the area being posted to a place where more people will notice it

    (Since streetview is so large, and has so many images.... a picture of an obscure place would probably not be noticed by many people, let alone get any attention or concern)

  • by rxan (1424721) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @11:44PM (#33310322)

    Our right to take panoramic snapshots, for instance, or to take photographs in public spaces, both base laws which determine that one may photograph those things that are visible from public streets and places.

    Is a photo of your lawn, outside of home, and garden a private affair? When people drive by your home do you chase them away like a barking dog? No (reply if you do). Then why should you shoo away the Google car?

    OK. But does that give you the right to aggregate those photos, organize them by location, creating a photo map of the entire planet?

    On the one hand: Location based services are increasingly being incorporated into photographic devices. It's only a matter of time before the planet is completely photo-mapped with location information. Attempts to prevent this are only by scaremongers who have an idealistic view of privacy.

    On the other hand: People have a right to privacy and it's unreasonable for one corporation to destroy it.

  • Re:Erm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kiwimate (458274) on Friday August 20, 2010 @12:05AM (#33310416) Journal

    Ever had a stalker? Sometimes people do care. It can be kind of frightening. Especially for a young woman.

    There's another side to this apart from the legal side. There's the community side, which is to say the common (? or not so much, any more, sadly) courtesy that makes the difference between a narcissist or an outright sociopath and someone who understands that sometimes, just because you can, doesn't trump "this person really doesn't want me to, is upset about it, and you know what, maybe I can have a bit of a heart and say okay".

    This gentleman may have the law on his side, but I would be quite impressed if he took the stance of "I'm going to be a human being and take another person's feelings into account". Call me old-fashioned or idealistic, but I think that may just make the world a better place, in some small way.

  • Re:Erm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Merls the Sneaky (1031058) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:14AM (#33310706)

    If they cared about privacy, they wouldn't draw attention to themselves. By distinguishing themselves out of the other millions of people who have had their place of residence indexed on google street view, they have effectively induced the Streisand effect.

    If their goal was to feel special then I say mission accomplished.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:23AM (#33310758) Journal

    If people like this Jens guy won't voluntarily respect that and want to deliberately upset all those other people just because they can legally do so today, then the law can always be changed tomorrow to fix that problem.

    And how do you propose fixing that "problem?"
    Only allowing the police to videotape & photograph in public?
    Extending the DMCA to include otherwise legal pictures of property visible to the public?

    This is the basic flaw in the whole "You have no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place" argument: it based on law rather than on ethics

    What the hell kind of argument is that?
    How is it unethical to engage in Constitutionally protected rights?
    Unpopular speech is exactly what the First Amendment is there to protect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:08AM (#33310916)

    No amendmenss you mentioned apply to Germany though. Google took the photos from their cars about 2.8m high. This isnt allowed in Germany if you are a photographer on the street. You can only take photos without the help of ladders or similar equipment. People who have plants and fences around their properties to protect their privacy from the ladderless public now find themself exposed on Google SV.

  • by tftp (111690) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:39AM (#33311034) Homepage

    A camera is not a gun. It doesn't threaten the life of police, and it probably won't get you killed, no matter what.

    That "probably" is not good enough [timesonline.co.uk] - especially when dealing with soldiers. It only takes a misunderstanding. If a gun is pointed at you then a mechanical malfunction also can kill you. (That's why we are told to never point a gun at anything but intended targets, among other rules.)

  • Re:Erm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:55AM (#33311102)
    No, it's just Google being nice. The government couldn't do anything about Street View, that's why they ran around like headless chickens talking about changing laws but not actually doing anything. Because according to German law it's legal to take photos of everything you can see from a public place (like the roads the Google cars are driving on). You can also publish these photos in any way you like as long as no human can be identified on them, in that case it'd get slightly more complicated. This doesn't affect Google because the blank out faces anyway. The only chance they ever had of stopping this was the high of 2.9m of the camera, but that's a really weak legal point with a possibility for a humiliating defeat in court.

    Now for the real reason, there's so much ado about this, it's some kind of strange alliance between politics and newspapers. The politicians have suffered some painful losses before the constitutional court for violation of privacy And are under heavy criticism for things that didn't go to the courts yet or are just plans at this point (the data retention law that was struck down, ...) so they are desperate to find a private company they can accuse of doing even worse and look good for fighting it. And the newspapers hate Google for earning money on the Internet, the biggest threat to traditional newspapers. So this is some of the rare cases where politics and newspapers have a common enemy.


    Also, I'd like a source for your 200000 number, that seems really high considering the request site is like two days old.
  • by Confused (34234) on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:41AM (#33311502) Homepage

    In Germany, there's the so-called freedom of the panorama, which means, that you're allowed to take pictures of the panorama in public places, which includes houses etc. However, that freedom is limited to a natural perspective, so you may take take the picture while walking down the street, but you may not use a stepladder or step on a car roof to get a higher vantage point. It's a very simple to understand and convenient rule about private space. If you don't want to be photographed in your garden, make the wall high enough that people passing-by can't see over it. If someone peeks over that wall and takes pictures, he's invading your privacy.

    So what the photographer proposes to do is probably perfectly legal. With the Google streetview cars the problem is, they take the pictures from higher up than regular eye level, thus the freedom of the panorama doesn't apply to them and they get in all kind of trouble. There's another company (can't remember which one) taking pictures of streets, but they have mounted the cameras directly on the car roof, probably to avoid the problems Google has.

    All in all, Google is in this mess in Germany because they didn't bother to check local laws and believed American rules apply everywhere.

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