Google’s Street View and Privacy
Google has added a new feature in selected cities to Google Maps. This new feature allows users to view street level shots of each block. For a long time, Google Maps has provided satellite images from above, but Street View allows people to view an area as if standing on the sidewalk. From the NY Times:
Ms. Kalin-Casey, who manages an apartment building here with her husband, John Casey, was a bit shaken when she tried a new feature in Google’s map service called Street View. She typed in her address and the screen showed a street-level view of her building. As she zoomed in, she could see Monty, her cat, sitting on a perch in the living room window of her second-floor apartment.
“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. . . .
Ms. Kalin-Casey first shared her concerns about the service in an e-mail message to the blog Boing Boing on Wednesday. Since then, the Web has been buzzing about the privacy implications of Street View — with varying degrees of seriousness. Several sites have been asking users to submit interesting images captured by the Google service, which offers panoramic views of miles of streets around San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Denver.
On a Wired magazine blog, for instance, readers can vote on the “Best Urban Images” that others find in Street View. On Thursday afternoon, a picture of two young women sunbathing in their bikinis on the Stanford campus in Palo Alto, Calif., ranked near the top. Another showed a man scaling the front gate of an apartment building in San Francisco. The caption read, “Is he breaking in or has he just locked himself out?”
Google said in a statement that it takes privacy seriously and considered the privacy implications of its service before it was introduced on Tuesday. “Street View only features imagery taken on public property,” the company said. “This imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street.”
For a gallery of images of people captured on Google’s Street View see this post on Google Blogoscoped.