Google's street views have privacy advocates crying

Google’s street views have privacy advocates crying

Street-scene photographs added to Google Maps and Earth last week capture passers-by in delicate situations and have privacy advocates accusing the world’s most popular Internet search firm of breaking its own “Don’t be Evil” code. Google’s “Street View” feature weaves photographs into seamless panoramas of parts of San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Denver, Miami, and renowned technology Mecca Silicon Valley in northern California. “With Street View users can virtually walk the streets of a city, check out a restaurant before arriving, and even zoom in on bus stops and street signs to make travel plans,” Google said on its website. Privacy advocates counter that it also provides offensively candid glimpses of people unwittingly photographed while going about their daily lives. Pictures show what appears to be men urinating streetside. Young women are pictured in skimpy swimsuits sunbathing near Stanford University, the California alma mater of Google’s founders.

I can’t imagine a bigger bunch of nonsense. These are RANDOM photos. If someone takes a million random photos, some are bound to contain candid moments. (Especially if you purposefully LOOK for them). But the usefulness of the Google service far outweighs any privacy issues. This is no different than a random photo showing up on Flickr or in someone else’s vacation album posted publicly. As Scott McNealy once said: “You have zero privacy, now get over it.” Google could quickly put this controversy to rest by offering to tag photos that receive complaints for early replacement. But since the photos are from public locations, they should in no way knuckle under to pressure to curtail their service.

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