Times Online – Complaints force Google to remove Street View images<br/> Since launching its controversial mapping service yesterday, Google has been forced to remove scores of images after complaints from the public
Google has been forced to remove scores of pictures from Street View, its controversial mapping service, following complaints from users who believe the photos are a breach of privacy.
After its launch yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people logged on to Street View, which gives 360-degree views of Britain’s biggest cities. But the company has since received a flood of complaints from homeowners and people captured by Google’s cameras, demanding that photos be taken down.
Okay, so, the British public don’t mind being tracked by camera all day and in secret if it’s the police doing the tracking, but absolutely no way will they be caught in a single publicly-accessible frame of film for their neighbors to look up directions. Because that’s a breach of their privacy?
Until I moved to London from Brussels at the age of nine, I’d never seen a net curtain. Some people must have had them, I suppose, but no one I knew: on the Continent they were far from ubiquitous. Then I came across the very British sight of a row of terraced houses, each with its own prim little squares of yellowing nylon lace, shielding the occupants from prying eyes.
Of course, I immediately wondered what mysterious weirdness was going on behind the nets: it couldn’t have been terribly exciting, I figured, otherwise there would have been proper shutters or light-obscuring curtains. It must have been slightly shifty, though, since whatever was on display was deemed decent only if viewed through a sort of creamy haze.
Nobody is as obsessed with privacy as the British, or perhaps I mean the English.
I’m calling BS. She never saw lace curtains until she moved to London. Fine, but here you, on this hill, you can’t walk past multi-million dollar houses without being rebuffed by cheap-ass 1″ aluminum blinds (in a colour the manufacturer probably refers to as as “pearl” but which is actually a soul-crushing institutional taupe). Ugly, opaque, and very much closed. Because god forbid a neighbor walking the dog might happen to get a glimpse of your living room. I would faint with happiness to be told off with a bit of lace.
Street View also has extremely useful applications: it will soon no longer be possible for unscrupulous estate agents or holiday rental companies to lie about their properties. If there’s a giant eyesore or rowdy pub or police cordon or crack dealer tucked neatly out of shot, Google Street View will find it. If the blurb says you can walk to the shops, Street View will show you whether that is true. If you’re planning on renting a house abroad, or want to see what kind of neighbourhood your hotel is in, take a look.
A happy point.