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Google Street View Raises Privacy Concerns 520

Pcol writes "The New York Times is running a story about a woman who says her cat is clearly visible through the living room window of her second-floor apartment using Street View and that she has contacted Google asking that the photo be removed. 'The issue that I have ultimately is about where you draw the line between taking public photos and zooming in on people's lives,' Ms. Kalin-Casey said in an interview. 'The next step might be seeing books on my shelf. If the government was doing this, people would be outraged.' Wired has started a contest on the most interesting photos found using the new Google Tool that now includes sunbathing coeds, alleged drug deals, and the google van itself. 'I think that this product illustrates a tension between our First Amendment right to document public spaces around us, and the privacy interests people have as they go about their day,' says Kevin Bankston, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation."
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Google Street View Raises Privacy Concerns

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  • "Best Urban Images" (Score:5, Informative)

    by doubleofive ( 982704 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @08:51AM (#19350281) Homepage
    The Wired blog mentioned in the article has some really good pictures on it: or_urb.html []

  • check local laws (Score:2, Informative)

    by amigabill ( 146897 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @08:58AM (#19350375)
    I live in what has been at times a sketchy neighborhood, and I've talked to the police about putting up a private security camera. Cars have been vandalized, graffiti on sidewalks and buildings, but supposedly the drug house up the road is cleaned up. Not sure if it's state or county law, but I can't point a camera at someone else's private property. I can point it at my property, and I can point it at public property. I cannot record sound, only video.

    Check the laws about this sort of thing where you live. If you find a picture going inside your home, you may be able to go after them.
  • Re:Old news... (Score:5, Informative)

    by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:08AM (#19350463)
    It's called a "normal lens" []. On a 35mm camera, a 50 to 55mm lens gives a perspective that is equivalent to the view with the unaided eye.
  • by Fross ( 83754 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:28AM (#19350671)
    ...which was yesterday. If anyone had a problem with content for any of the photos they had taken, they would remove it on request.

    What they're doing is not illegal, as other posters have pointed out, and they seem pretty receptive to the privacy concerns. Kudos to them for doing something very useful with some sort of conscience.
  • Re:Privacy (Score:4, Informative)

    by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:40AM (#19350809) Homepage
    But that's precisely the problem here: her interior is visible from the exterior.

    To put it in perspective, my family has a home at the beach. My mom bought a large picturesque window for the front so they could look at the beach. It also happens to be by the TV. So, anytime people are watching the TV inside, people outside can look in.

    My mom complains about this all the time. "It's late at night. People are relaxing while watching TV. Why do they have to look in?" My response is always the same: "Why did you put the window up?"

    People have a right to privacy, but if they're "flaunting" their interior with windows and no curtains, how far does Google have to go to ensure their privacy? Same thing with my family's home. It's a nice house. Should we be up in arms when passersby take pictures of it? Should we freak out that they're potentially taking pictures of us watching TV?

    The answer, like most things in life, is simple: put up curtains.
  • Re:No it isn't. (Score:4, Informative)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:50AM (#19350899) Journal
    First of all, stalking laws are quite a recent development, and have only been around for about two decades or so. As for Peeping Tom statutes, in most jurisdictions you're allowed to look if you're not on the property you're looking into.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:53AM (#19350943)
    Google has the technology to pick out faces from search results, as seen when you add &imgtype=face to the URL of any image search. With this and other image mining techniques there are some pretty big dangers of automated violation of privacy.
  • Re:"Coeds"? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <knuckles@d a n t i> on Friday June 01, 2007 @10:45AM (#19351595)
    I agree with you and, being non-US, I wondered myself, where this comes from. Wikipedia []

    Coeducation is the integrated education of males and females at the same school facilities. The opposite situation is described as single-sex education. Most older institutions of higher education restricted their enrollment to a single sex at some point in their history, and since then have changed their policies to become coeducational.

    Co-ed is a shortened adjectival form of co-educational, and the word co-ed is sometimes also used as a noun to refer to a female college student in the United States. The word is also often used to describe a situation in which both genders are integrated in any form (e.g. "The team is co-ed").
  • Re:No it isn't. (Score:3, Informative)

    by LordSnooty ( 853791 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @10:50AM (#19351645)
    Bzzzt! Burglaries & child kidnapping happened before Google.
  • Re:No it isn't. (Score:3, Informative)

    by jacksonj04 ( 800021 ) <> on Friday June 01, 2007 @11:26AM (#19352259) Homepage
    Unless it's part of a larger shot in which John Q. Citizen isn't the main object of focus. There's nothing to stop me walking around and taking photos of a city centre street for any reason unless I'm being a public nuisance or likely to cause a breach of the peace (Which is why things like tripods, large flash diffusers, colour filters up the wazoo etc are a bad idea in crowded urban spaces, as is refusing to stop taking photos of one guy because "It's my right to take photos of you!"
  • Re:"Coeds"? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tofystedeth ( 1076755 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @12:14PM (#19352979)
    From wikipedia

    The word is derived of the Greek word sophumer, which in turn comes from sophom "dialectic exercise"; or from the words sophos, meaning "wise", and moros, meaning "fool"
  • Sheesh, The Transparent Society [] came out nearly 10 years ago, Earth [] was published in 1990, and some of the same themes show up in Stand on Zanzibar [] (1968) and The Shockwave Rider [] (1975). Professor Steve Mann took this further and developed a series of Wearcams [] through the '90s.

    Anyone who hasn't been anticipating this for at least the past decade, if not longer, has some remedial reading ahead of them.
  • Re:No it isn't. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Not The Real Me ( 538784 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @02:52PM (#19355579)
    "...if I shot you in a public place you cant do crap about it..." , you are correct on this point. In a case that involved cameras at traffic lights, a person who ran a red light sued because they thought their expectation of privacy was violated when the traffic camera snapped their photo. The courts ruled that a person in a car on a public street has no expectation of privacy.

    When the OP wrote, "You can sue the crap out of someone for using your image/likeness...for a commercial purpose." , what they meant is that you cannot take a photo of a person in a public place and then use that person's likeness/image to sell products such as coffee, t-shirts, toilet paper, cosmetic surgery, boxes of cereal, calendars, food products, etc.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan