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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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  • Old news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BubFranklin ( 978317 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @08:50AM (#19350271)
    Many other companies have been doing this for realestate industry for years...

    Also, copyright law states (IANAL) that you can take pictures of people in their homes from the street. Only no zooming, and with (I think) a 55mm lens at best. Look up the case law. The only think I think that may be challenged in court is if high res photos at 55mm constitutes some kind of new zoom...
  • Personally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @08:52AM (#19350315) Homepage
    I'm rather amazed at how well this actually works....a friend of mine is from Miami. He looked up one of the more destitute areas in the city and sure enough there it was.

    We were dying laughing for nearly 10 minutes thinking about a big google van driving through the slums and taking panoramic photos.

    Christ we are geeks.
  • by packetmon ( 977047 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:03AM (#19350417) Homepage
    a woman who says her cat is clearly visible through the living room window of her second-floor apartment using Street View Funny... I wonder how come no one complains when the DoT, DoJ and other stupidly acronymed agencies throw cameras on every street corner... Out of sight out of mind for some. No one outside of spectators (those who don't actually see through the camera's lens) knows what these cameras see or record yet they assume based on naive premise "the government would never..." Sure the gov would never, that doesn't mean there couldn't possibly be a pedophile or peeping tom working for the government and seeing into one's private life 24/7.

    I wish there could be like true blue public forum based discussions on these matters so people can get a true perspective of reality before wanting their 15 minutes of fame. Would I be mad if Google passed me by on the street while I was scratching my crotch... No. Would I be upset if they filmed my cat? No. Home? No. Would I be mad if it was constant (so called antiterrorism foobar cams)... Yes.
  • Re:not just her cat (Score:4, Interesting)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:18AM (#19350575)

    By protesting that much about a photo, she now has her name and address (not just her cat) blasted all over the web. If she had said nothing, possibly it would have all blown over.
    Like those dumb guys in Boston who threw all that tea into the water instead of paying a few lousy pennies of tax. C'mon, guys, quit rocking the boat before you annoy King George.
  • "Coeds"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jon_anderson_ca ( 705052 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:35AM (#19350753)

    Offtopic, I know, but "sunbathing coeds"? As in "sunbathing students of both genders" or as in "sunbathing women"? Why do we refer to women like they're anomalies at academic institutions?

    At my school, we have something like 60% women... should we call men "co-eds"?

    Go ahead, mod me down as offtopic, but this kind of thing irks me.

  • Re:not just her cat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kelbear ( 870538 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:39AM (#19350797)
    Y'know, despite all the outcry regarding privacy and being seen in windows, it hasn't been brought up so far so I figure I may as well play Captain Obvious.

    I found Street View to be useful. I live in New Jersey suburbs, close enough to go to NYC on occassion, but I don't live or work there. It gets awfully confusing trying to find my way through there. Map websites helped with this. Hybrid view in Googlemaps helped more since now I can distinguish areas by large patches of color in a top-down view.

    Now with Street View, I know exactly what each corner looks like so I'll be able to recognize that turn when it comes up.

    This is how Street View is meant to be used, and it has succeeded in being useful to me. I'm just saying, though this lady's cat has been seen in a window, the public now has gained a useful tool in navigating the streets.

    Which outweighs the other? I don't know. I understand her position. I just know that I appreciate the added utility and I would be saddened to lose it. I would love it if the van could come through my neighborhood and outlying areas as well.
  • Simple solution... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dominion ( 3153 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:44AM (#19350849) Homepage

    Google should allow people the option to send in an alternate photo. Give people the information on where to stand and what kinds of camera you can use, and then, if approved, pay something like $100 a photo. Maybe have an approval process first for whether the photo is inappropriate or not, and other ways to keep people from scamming the system.

    That way, people can regain their privacy, and make a hundred bucks, and Google keeps their reputation, and doesn't pay much more than they would sending someone out to retake the photo.
  • Re:No it isn't. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @09:58AM (#19350993)
    You can't be expected to be living out of a dungeon...

    So not having your blinds wide open is "living out of a dungeon" then? Blinds have a variety of settings, and most of them allow privacy. Even some of the settings that let light in the windows protect privacy.

    But the real question is: what is the hysteria about? I understand the preference for privacy, but I don't understand the desperate, hysterical need for it. What's the tragedy when a little privacy is lost? (Normally, in matters where privacy is more valued, people tend to be discrete.)

    It's not like Google is trying to force anyone to do anything. They aren't trying to steal anything from anyone. No extortion. No blackmail. No motives at all really, except to sell ads by helping people avoid getting lost.

    So what should I be scared of? There's some great danger lurking out there that you folks seem to know about, but I don't. I'm ignorant of the horrible peril I'm supposedly in. Please tell me.
  • Re:Overreaction? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Karganeth ( 1017580 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @10:33AM (#19351387)

    If it doesn't matter if I'm walking past your house and see it then why on Earth does it matter if I can see it using my PC?
    They're different things. Taking a photograph through someone's window isn't the same as glimpsing what can be seen through it as you walk past; it is more akin to standing outside the house and staring in, and inviting hundreds of other people to come and stare through the window, and the person inside only finding out they have been under observation afterwards. It will make many people, especially women, feel violated.
    Without using an analogy or example, can you explain how or why it is different? It really isn't. The image is being stored on a digital medium instead of a organic one (the brain). Are you therefore saying that how well an image can be recalled affects how large the privacy 'violation' is? In that case, having a photographic memory would be a crime - and so would having a good eye sight (as it gives a more detailed insight of what is inside the window). It either is or it isn't a privacy violation - how well the information is stored and recalled is irrelevant.
  • Re:"Coeds"? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @11:28AM (#19352283) Homepage
    I have a friend who went to an all-girls' college; she informed me that there, "co-eds" were males (there were a few, continuing-studies students I think).
  • by The Great Pretender ( 975978 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @11:53AM (#19352647)
    But I am sure the police will like it (something about obscenity laws).

    You know that brings up an interesting thought. What if someone hangs a 2A0 goatse picture on their wall, or is sitting in the living room jacking off to girls gone wild (thinking about the co-ed discussion further back). Google comes along and shoots it in the street view. So now we can zoom in and see this. Where does this fall?

    1) Invasion of privacy

    2) Distribution of pr0n by google

    3) Public obscenity by the person who's house it is?

    (/. caveat:- If you don't like the examples please insert your own, my point is about the various ways of looking at the implications of the situation)

  • Re:No it isn't. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2007 @11:54AM (#19352665)
    I don't think "non-newsworthy" means what you think it means.
  • by RedneckJack ( 934223 ) on Friday June 01, 2007 @01:13PM (#19353957)
    We are fast becoming a society where the government is free to do anything unless specified by law and the people cannot do anything unless permission permission is granted by the government. Opposite what the US Constitution originally specified - people are free to do anything unless specified by law, government cannot do anything without permission.

    Working for "The Man", it is defintely like that. Eventually it will get to the point where we are treated like children and have to ask permission to go take a dump !

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.