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Google Street View Raises Privacy Issues

My co-blogger, Bob Ambrogi, posts about how Google Maps' Street View feature rescued him after Amazon's A9 search engine dropped a similar feature. But will Bob lose a block view feature a second time? Right now, that possibility seems remote, but at the same time, some are making noises about whether Google's Street View feature unduly invades individuals' privacy, as discussed in this New York Times article,  Google Photos Stir a Debate Over Privacy (6/1/07; hat tip to Future Lawyer Rick Georges).

The Times article describes how one Street View user, Mary Kalin-Casey, was horrified when she used the feature to view her building and was able to see her cat perched in the living room window. The article quotes Kalin-Casey as saying:

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 Thursday on the front steps of the building. “The next step might be seeing books on my shelf. If the government was doing this, people would be outraged.”

However, Google does not perceive the privacy issues the same way. From the article:

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.”

Google also took precautions to remove potentially sensitive locations from view, such as domestic violence shelters. Others quoted in the article, including Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the privacy issues could have been avoided or at least minimized. 

What's your view? 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 1, 2007 at 02:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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