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EU Says Google Street View Violates Privacy 300

upto0013 notes the latest spot of trouble for Google in Europe: the EU says that Google's Street View images violate privacy laws. The EU's privacy watchdog asked Google to notify cities and towns before photographing (Google says it does this already) and to delete original photos after 6 months (Google keeps them for a year and says it has reason to do so). "[T]he privacy official] said that the company should revise its 'disproportionate' policy of keeping the original unblurred images for up to a year, saying improvements in Google's blurring technology and better public awareness would lead to fewer complaints — and a shorter delay for people to react to the photos they see on the site. Complaints about the images put online would usually be checked against the original photos."
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EU Says Google Street View Violates Privacy

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  • Re:Photos in public (Score:5, Informative)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:55PM (#31287848) Journal

    However, remember that the Google van has the camera a lot higher than what you could see walking on the street. For example there has been many cases where the camera has photographed inside peoples apartment or over garden walls, even people without clothes. If you went taking photos of someones backyard that is otherwise shield, you would be violating law. Same thing if you went taking pictures of someone through his/her window. Google is doing exactly this, on a mass scale, and then putting them on the internet for everyone to see.

  • Re:On the other hand (Score:2, Informative)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:02PM (#31287962)

    Thanks Osama, you motherfucker. You too, Bush.

    Did I say Thanks?

    I meant Fuck You.

  • by Haxamanish ( 1564673 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:03PM (#31287976)

    The EU has been around since 1973?

    1951: European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)
    1957: European Economic Community (EEC)
    1967: European Community (EC)
    1973: UK, Ireland & Denmark join EC
    1993: European Union (EU)

  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:08PM (#31288066) Journal

    If I remember correctly, that case involved Google's van photographing him over his garden wall, so no, he wasn't clearly visible to anyone just walking by. If you climbed up the garden wall and photographed people without clothes in their private property, you would be breaking law too. Even without even putting them on the Internet for everyone to see.

  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:23PM (#31288350) Journal

    What impossible thing is mandated here? EU is just saying Google needs to fix their blurring technology as it violates privacy laws or stop doing what they're doing. If it's not technically possible for Google to automatically blur faces, then they need to hire people to do manual blurring or forget the whole thing in EU area.

  • by jhol13 ( 1087781 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:25PM (#31288378)

    Well ... []

    Married Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has forced his mistress to
    remove her personal blog from the web, according to reports. The
    54-year-old CEO has been linked to other women in the past and he is
    believed to be either separated or in an open relationship with his
    wife Wendy.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:31PM (#31288530)

    That wooshing noise was the point flying over your head. The burden for preventing such a clear and abusive invasion of privacy should not lie with the potential abusee, and a system where people (or corporations) can invade your privacy and then share the results with the world unless you actively opt out does not scale.

    I prefer the approach taken by Japan, where this over-the-wall problem was common given typical Japanese architecture and infringements were widespread, and Google was forced to throw away the lot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:35PM (#31288594)

    I live in google town and not once did I hear of notification.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:43PM (#31288698) Journal
    Your house is already copyrighted. It is an expression of the architectual art, and the copyright is owned by the architect. []
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:09PM (#31289120)

    And in the US anyway, the cops would tell you that this is perfectly legal and to stop filing bogus complaints (or they SHOULD).

    Unfortunately it's been demonstrated that a lot of police aren't aware of this - hence the post-9/11 arrests of photographers taking photographs of railroad trellises, etc.

    The cases have all eventually been dismissed, but it ends up costing these people several days out of their lives just to prove they were doing something completely legal.

  • Re:Photos in public (Score:4, Informative)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:25PM (#31289334) Homepage Journal

    They're not really that high. The earliest streetview vehicle [] was a van, but they're using sedans now (photos at the link). The camera is no higher than the head of a driver of an SUV, perhaps not even as high.

    If someone in a Hummer can see you naked it's your own fault.

  • Re:Photos in public (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dwarfgoat ( 472356 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:49PM (#31289642) Homepage

    Ah, yes, that was quite the media brouhaha around these parts last fall. Despite the fact that it later turned out the woman who filed the complaint had been trespassing, cutting through his yard (resulting in her being in a place a normal person would not have been able to see in his kitchen window) he was convicted of indecent exposure a few months later. The judge waived any jail time, saying that he didn't put people in jail for being stupid [referring to the defendant not closing the curtains] or (and I quote) "We'd all be in jail." Despite not getting jail time, the case is being appealed "on principle" according to the man's lawyer.

    Of course, in VA, indecent exposure will land you on the sex offender registry, too.

  • by Dwarfgoat ( 472356 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @03:58PM (#31289742) Homepage

    People in this thread keep referring to "the Google Van." Around these parts, all the Google vehicles that have been spotted have been hybrid sedans (usually a Toyota Prius). The one I've seen in person (also a Prius), the camera mast was 6 to 7 feet off the ground. As a 6'5" individual, that's kinda of my vantage point anyway. I'm glad I didn't walk past that guy's garden wall!

  • Re:On the other hand (Score:3, Informative)

    by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @04:05PM (#31289850)

    Well Bush is the one they are talking about, so your vote in the previous election is irrelevant.

  • (Score:3, Informative)

    by cheros ( 223479 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @08:45AM (#31296194)

    Easy - that means they break the law too. Any more questions?

  • by cheros ( 223479 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @08:55AM (#31296216)

    Streetview is a good tool, but with any mass data collection you need to strike a balance.

    There is nothing wrong with watching a street, but people/cars should be blurred, and that was effectively what Google promised to do, also in Switzerland, only that they didn't do it well enough, and the retention of such material must be explained.

    What I positively do NOT like about Streetview is that it offers to zoom in on windows - that really is invasive. In addition, they have the problem that they take pictures from an elevated viewpoint. I can understand why (try looking over parked cars otherwise), but people build fences for privacy, and they thus ended up with problems in privacy concious countries like Japan and Switzerland.

    As a matter of fact, I remarked at the time that I didn't find it surprising the Switzerland asked questions - I found it amazing no EU regulator had done the same. Now I know why - they weren't exposed to the issues yet. Now they are, and thankfully they are asking the same questions.

    I personally hope Google will pay attention, because addressing this intelligently would do much to address the privacy worries Google is creating. I don't think there is malice involved, it's more a culture clash, and IMHO it can be resolved with a bit of thinking.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.