A StreetCar Named Google: Google Street View Scrutinised Over Privacy Laws in UK

Google Cam car
Google Street View, the online mapping website that has angered campaigners for privacy, faces being referred to the Information Commissioner if it is made available in Britain.

The website, which has already caused controversy in America, builds up panoramas of cities using Google camera cars, which photograph life on the streets. The tool, which matches real world photos to mapped locations, has drawn fire from some privacy campaigners.

In America, people have been photographed in potentially tricky positions.

One man appeared to be climbing a fence, while two men in San Francisco appeared to be gazing at a woman as she bent over.

An ambulance driver was seen stopping and eating a sandwich.

In the UK, Privacy International said the tool could breach data protection laws if people’s faces were shown.
Google has said it is using face blurring technology to preserve the privacy of individuals photographed.

“In our view they need a person’s consent if they make use of a person’s face for commercial ends,” Simon Davies, of Privacy International told BBC News.

Street View has already been launched in the US and includes photos of streets in major American cities. Photographing of areas in the UK, including London, is believed to have started last week.

Mr Davies has written to Google asking for details of the face-blurring technology, saying he would ask the UK Information Commissioner to intervene if he did not receive a satisfactory response.

He told BBC News that he was concerned that Google’s technology would not work.
Google’s senior privacy counsel Jane Horvath has responded saying that the technology had already been deployed.

She wrote: “We actually launched this technology publicly in early May, when we refreshed our imagery in Manhattan, New York.

“Since then we have applied face blurring to all new imagery launches in the US, including a major launch in June.”

Google has said it plans to launch Street View in a “few European countries” but did not give any more details.

In a statement, a Google spokesperson added: “We think this type of privacy-enabling technology is the best way of meeting the challenge of continuing to respect people’s expectation of privacy, while not stifling the development of new products and services that everyone can enjoy and benefit from.”

A few photos are starting appear on Flicker from people that have spotted the Google cam car
Here is one such photo i cam accross today. from nwfb on FlickerGoogle Cam car