When are the complaints going to end for Google’s Street View? From catching people drunk and asleep in their front yards, to logging endless amounts of license plate numbers and other personal information, the search giant has seen its fair share of controversy. To add to it, the company is now under fire for reportedly ignoring numerous “no trespassing” signs to capture views of private drives and roadways.
A few months back, a Pittsburgh couple sued Google for driving up a private road, taking pictures of their home, then posting them for the world to see on Street View. Google’s argument was that pictures and other details of the house were already on the Internet due to the fact that is was recently for sale. The company also noted that the couple “compounded the attention drawn to the photos” by filing a lawsuit instead of using Google’s tools for requesting a removal of the images, according to Ars Technica.
It’s the aforementioned removal tool that is available on Street View that raises the question of why all the fuss about the images. If something makes it to the site that you don’t think is permitted, simply let Google know about it and they’ll review and remove it accordingly. Legal action is obviously to seek some sort of compensation out of an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have. A Google spokesperson advised users upset about images that they believe shouldn’t be on Street View can use the “report inappropriate image” link. “After verification, the image will be removed or a clearly identifiable face will be blurred,” the spokesperson said. “If found to be inappropriate or sensitive, the image will be removed permanently. We act quickly to review and act upon imagery that users have requested to be blurred or taken down.”
The spokesperson also noted that Street View drivers are instructed to “not drive on any private land,” and also noted that they hire local drivers for the most part, so they know the lay of the land and can effectively avoid areas they know are private. Whether this is true is up for debate. One anonymous Street View driver, however, told a local newspaper once that he was simply told to “drive around” and collect images.
I still don’t know what the big deal is, personal information has always been exploited now that the internet is so prevalent. People can already find your address, phone number, tax information, and much more if they look hard enough. I’d worry more about that, then the chance a photo of your house or yourself showing up. At least with this information, you can request it be taken down immediately. Your address, phone number, etc. will always be available no matter what you do.