Privacy group complain about Google Street View

24 March 2009

After a week in which many of us have used it for online snooping and sniggering, a formal complaint about Google’s Street View has been submitted to the Information Commissioner.

Lobby group Privacy International have made the complaint, backed up by more than 200 reports from individuals who are identifiable on the photographed network of streets from around the country.

Among those who have been cited in the complaint are a woman who had moved house to escape her violent partner – she can clearly be identified on Street View outside her new home.

Google have reiterated that anyone who is included in a picture can opt out and they'll be deleted from the pics, but what if any potential damage is done before they get the chance to complain? Where do BW readers stand on Street View – harmless bit of fun or another erosion of our personal privacy?

TOPICS:   Complaints   Technology


  • Mark
    I think it's fascinating, and will be an amazing historical record of our towns and cities. I can also appreciate the privacy concerns it raises. Perhaps Google should withdraw it, beef up their face masking to be full body masking which cuts rather than blurs and then relaunch it at a later date.
  • acecatcher3
    i think its pretty good, i had to report my car as the numberplate was clear for everyone to see but all i had to do was click report and they sent me an email back almost immediately apologising and saying that it had now been blurred. i find some of the pictures very amusing, if ppl have any new links to funny pictures other than thestig, guy gettin sick etc then post em plz lol!
  • meee
    Never got an apology when I reported my car reg plate as being visible. Automated reply. Picture taken off later that day and restored the next day with the plate blurred.
  • Young C.
    I love google street view. My wife and I are searcing for our first home and it has been an amazing tool for us. That being said, I see how there would be privacy issues...
  • Giles
    Thing is- you can't find somebody if you want to. The area it covers is HUGE and the person you're looking for would need to be roughly in a place you'd find them anyway... at the right time too... If you know where somebody is anyway then just go there - if you don't and you find them then all you've learnt is where they once were (if they're not blurred) People are worrying about nothing... the FEAR is what people are scared of... "Does this mean that ‘anyone’ can effectively stake out my house or the houses on a street? So, for example, if this works in anything like ‘realtime’, a criminal could ‘watch’ my house from his PC (as opposed to lurking about suspiciously), work out my usual routine and then plan his business accordingly. I can think of a lot of other reasons why this and Google Earth could be a very handy tool for certain unsavoury members of society! Johnny PH, Leeds" from
  • sb
    People are idiots.. Its not live or near live or anything else.. if you didnt want to be seen in the street stay in your house. People can see your numberplate.. well yeah theyve been able to do that ever since Eyes were invented. Same with the woman who moved to escape her partner.. its not like google have sent her details to the guy.. hed have to be scouring streetview to find it.. and if shed not mentioned it he'd have no reason to do so.. now he might.. so maybe keeping quiet might have been a better idea. Streetview is awesome.. theres no doubt about it
  • Nigel
    As the guy above said, in order to find someone you need to know where to look in the first place. There are no privacy issues here. It's an excellent piece of software that has many time/cost saving benefits for people. The benefits far outweigh the negatives.
  • acecatcher3
    how long until a story comes up which reads: "i found my long lost brother using google street!!" anyone fancy doing this with me, split profit from magazine story interviews??
  • Roof E.
    This is not a Streetview story, but better:
  • Julian F.
    Whilst I appreciate the security concerns, most of these concerns aren't real threats. Take the example of the woman who moved house to escape her violent partner. I think it is safe to presume he had absolutely no idea where she had moved to, for obvious reasons. Therefore, it would take him so long to find her it would hardly be worth it. She could easily report the image and get it blurred long before he could find her. This is an amazing advance in technology, and allows you to effectively find your way around an unfamiliar city before you go there. It would be a great pity for this to be taken offline - as Nigel said, the benefits outweigh the negative points. Furthermore, Street View has been live in the States for quite a while now, and I haven't heard of any major problems arising from this. Why should it be any different here? I look forward to seeing Street View go live where I live, so I can try to find myself and my friends.
  • Kieron
    I found my mother on street view - only because she recognised the google car when it passed!! This has caused great amusement to me and the rest of my family and although i know its her, she is clearly blurred, so the image is of no use to any one!!
  • Kieron
    Although on second thoughts my Farther is mightly annoyed because she is coming out of very exlusive (and expensive) shop in London. I suppose at least she isn't outside a sex ishop in SOHO!
  • Cheryl
    My street has been open to the public for some time now. You can even walk down it!
  • Martin
    @Roof Envy - This is not a Streetview story, but better: I feel sorry for those poor people that cannot afford a helicopter to survey their dominions.
  • Martin
    You can now buy anti-google street view wear ... Place over head to avoid detection.
  • Kat
    I love it.. but I'm nosey by nature.
  • Meee
    I disagree with the people who don't think that this is an invasion of privacy. I object to having my licence plate being on full view to the public. There has never been a public resource that makes open to the public the make, model, colour and year and registered address of my car. Makes 'casing the joint' unnecessary - Google Street View does it all for you.
  • Mike
    I do not think any tool that makes it easier for criminals to commit crimes, however "insignificant" house burglary is, should be allowed.
  • metoo
    I find it amazing that people are complaining about this. The pro out weigh the cons by a factor of 1000. What bugler in his right mind is going to scour street view, what would they be looking for an open widow? that was open 3 weeks ago! Most burglaries are done on the spur of the moment not planned like the Italian job. and if mike thinks we "I do not think any tool that makes it easier for criminals to commit crimes, however "insignificant" house burglary is, should be allowed" perhaps we should ban bricks, screwdrivers, ladders oh and i forgot eyes. Get a life you scaremongers, there's more important and dangerous things out there to be worrying about.
  • Honky S.
    I'd hate the terrorists to be able to see mystreet so easily..
  • Exactly
    Hoorway, metoo, good balanced thinking. There have been terrorists and burglars long before there was Street View. If Street View is shut down, these folks will find ways to commit their dastardly deeds, and in the event of such banning - all of us innocent citizens lose out on the use of an innovative and highly useful tool.
  • Scooby P.
    @metoo "What bugler in his right mind is going to scour street view, what would they be looking for an open widow?......................." Holy smokes, do the Daily Mail know about this? There's me worrying about burglars, now you're telling me I've got to look out for buglers as well. What about trumpeters or bassoonists? Its getting terrible living in this society these days. On the flipside though, I'm always on the look-out for an open widow - if they're deperate enough, even I might get my nuts up, whether I've washed my balls or not.
  • Giles
    [quote=Mike] There has never been a public resource that makes open to the public the make, model, colour and year and registered address of my car. [/quote] Yes there has. Eyes. I can walk down a road and look at your car and the badges it has on it. I can easily learn the make, model, colour and year (by looking at the numberplate). Google Street View doesn't tell me the registered address - it just tells me the location at a random date. Most numberplates are blurred on Google and to be honest - nobody cares about your car. Seriously. Get over yourself.
  • Giles
    I'd be much better off to just wait outside your house. Where do you live?
  • Darren W.
    it is a load of tosh, this will be a day in the life that people will look back in a 100 years, I hope someone does a website with interesting things caught on street view, Ive already seen the ambulance one and the little kid taking a piss in the corner while his dad checks if no one is looking. as for the guy who calls this an online shopping site for the petty criminal is just ridiculous.... is this guy for real?
  • Duke
    I was gonna write a comment but sb has pretty much written what i was going to say. That comment was spot on.
  • Colin
    I also don't think it's an invasion of privacy - quite the contrary, if any such complaints are upheld I believe that will be an infringement on our rights. I enjoy living in a country where I myself, Google with their camera car or even a professional photographer can take pictures of public things in public. I myself appear (albeit in my car) in Street View, I remember seeing the Google car go past on the way home one night so it was easy to find. Nobody else is going to find me (it's not like you can search Google Street View for all photos of a specific make, model and colour of car), and I'm pleased to have been included.
  • Rob
    The Google Street View driver didn't like it when I tried to take a photo of him in his car in Quegdeley,Gloucester on Friday 22nd May. I ended up being dragged along the road by him in his car. The matter has been reported to the police and I needed treatment at A&E for the numerous injuries I suffered.
  • n d.
    i can't get the image of my house removed by google , as they promise in their video ! i used the report a problem link once and since then it has disappeared ! if there's no link , i can't complain , can i ? i can't get the image removed either ! that's very underhand by google ! there is No complaints at google !? why not ? what an ignorant company !
  • Antwan T.
    Great blog post.Much thanks again. Cool.

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