An interesting story out of the UK over the weekend with Google’s Street View service coming in the firing line. Seems the villagers at the Buckinghamshire township of Broughton spotted the Street View car taking photos of their streets and blocked the operator for some time. The police were called, and after a quick discussion, the car was allowed to carry on its way.
The issue was about privacy, and this brings up some interesting questions. Google has stated that it only publishes pictures that would be open for the public to see. If somebody is cavorting naked on their front lawn, then Google will in all likelihood not publish the photo. However, if you happen to object to them putting your house on their service, and that is your only objection, then tough.
I’m lucky in that I live down a long driveway, so it is not even an issue for me. A bit like the surfing-the-net-at-work post I put up on Friday, I can see both sides of the story.
Public domain is public domain, and there is no law here (or in the UK that I am aware of) stopping people taking photos of houses and streets. There are some issues over some high security government installations, but those protections are not afforded to you or I. In any event, the vast majority of people don’t have a problem with Street View, although there were a couple of well-publicised incidents when it first started out, including a drunken young man being photographed outside of his house crashed out on the grass verge.
Maybe Google could calm some people’s worries by being a bit more strict on what photo’s they do publish? Some sort of transparent vetting process. Maybe some of those objecting to the whole scenario could lighten up a little? After all, Street View has been set up a tool for people to find their way around. What do you think?