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June 02, 2007

Google enters voyeurism market

Google Maps has a new feature that's freaking some people out.. it's called Street View, and the way they do it is by driving a car mounted with a 360 degree camera around town and creating interactive 360 panorama photos so you can go look around on the street for directions and such. Here's the problem, summed up in the iTWire article Google Maps becomes “Go Ogle Maps”:

[...] Wow, that does sound cool, especially as more and more cities worldwide are added to the mix, and the content is mashed up in many different ways online. But almost immediately, people started looking at the photographs closely, and started noticing things that the people in the photos concerned might not have wanted published to the world.

Online reports of a man picking his nose, another scaling a wall, yet another at the entrance of a strip joint have been found and discussed, while the hunt is on to see what else the photos contain. The discovery some photos allow web surfers to see inside homes through open windows has also caused alarm.

Google says it has options for users who find photographic information about themselves or their properties that they would like removed, and in a statement reported by the Associated Press, Google spokeswoman Megan Quinn said "This imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street. Imagery of this kind is available in a wide variety of formats for cities all around the world."

Google also claim the images were taken in a public place from a cameras specially mounted onto cars that travelled the streets, as well as buying similar imagery from another company.

While Google is offering to take down material people are unhappy about, it’s a bit like the DMCA excuse – the rights holders need to find out they’re being infringed before they can do anything about it, as Google takes all care but no responsibility. [More on this story here...]

So I can peruse the streets of the world buck nekkid from the comfort of my living room, but there's a price: if I leave the window open someone halfway across the world might be looking at a picture of me buck nekkid in my living room. Thanks, Google.

I'm not going to link to the feature because they get enough business as it is. If you really want to see it for yourself, just google it.

[ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91wuBqlny50 ]

Posted by Nathaniel at June 2, 2007 03:45 PM