Technophobia or legitimate privacy concern?

Google Map’s  Street view is running into some legal trouble in Europe according to this article. European Privacy officials are crying foul because Street View might not comply with Europe’s  stringent privacy laws.  Requirements that they make of Google include that

  • Google blurs faces of people in the images
  • Google only keeps unblurred images for six months
  • Google announces via newspapers, radio and TV (which medium is missing in this list?) when it will go out in the neighborhood to capture images for street view

Is this a case of overzealous privacy officials looking for headlines or is there a legitimate privacy  issue? I do support the European approach to privacy, which is based on the assumption that government needs to oversee how businesses treat personal data (as opposed to the American laissez-faire approach), but I wonder if  there really is a legitimate privacy concern in the case of Google Street View. These pictures are taken on public streets, what is the exact privacy invasion here? If my car is photographed or if I was photographed walking home with a bag of groceries, would my right to privacy be invaded if I ended up on Google Street View?


One thought on “Technophobia or legitimate privacy concern?

  1. I did a little research on Europe’s photography policy and there is law against photo taking without a person’s consent. Because of Europe’s high data protection standards, many in Europe would find Google’s picture taking a privacy invasion. However, in the US, we have a fine line between a privacy breech and public activity. This technology of street view is a new medium that has never been seen before. There seems to be a trend in conflict arising as newer media and technology arises and what to do with it. I feel that because it is a new technology and no laws have ben made for it, Google is kind of testing out the waters and seeing how far they can go with it. I feel this lack of regulation has instilled some technophobia into Europeans with their high standards of privacy protection. Looking from a utilitarian perspective, I feel that in the US, the majority sees Google Street View as more helpful than hurtful. However, if it is used for the wrong reasons (mapping out a burglary route?), this is where privacy can become a problem. I feel that Google does need to set regulations. Maybe limiting this tool to major intersections or points of interest, and not so much residential areas. Blurring of faces and license plates is a good way to protect privacy, I feel that Google just needs to spell things out a little more clearly, and that the main purpose is for direction and not candidly documenting people.

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