German Photographer Plans To Add Back In Buildings That Opt-Out Of Google Street View

from the proving-the-ridiculousness-of-the-situation dept

We've never quite understood the general fears about Google Street View's photographs, since they're photographs of public places. However, many still seem somewhat freaked out by it all, and especially in Europe, they've continually put new rules and restrictions on Google's Street View operation. Apparently, in Germany, people can specifically request that Google remove images of certain buildings. Of course, this is silly, and to prove that point, a German photographer is going to go photograph all of those buildings that have been excluded, then upload them to Google's Picasa image hosting service, link them up to their GPS coordinates, and then "re-connect" them with Google Maps.

He's basically doing a good job of pointing out how incredibly silly it is to say that you can't photograph something that's in public view. Anyone can photograph it, and with today's technology, those photographs will likely end up online. Pretending that opting out of Google's Street View protects any sort of privacy is folly, so congrats to Jens Best, for coming up with a simple and effective way of showing that.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 12:21pm

    If the buildings are govt buildings, be it city, state, or fed, they should not be blacked out.

     

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  2.  
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    Bas Grasmayer, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 12:32pm

    Why are you always defending Google?

    I really think Techdirt could do with being a little bit more critical of Google. Most articles on this blog are very critical, but whenever Google is mentioned, it's usually in defense of Google, or just playing down worries that people have when it comes to privacy or net neutrality.

    We all love Google, but we shouldn't let love blind us ;-)

    Check how many articles are very critical on average. Then check out the last 15 articles about Google and see the lack of criticism. I love Techdirt, but this is really something I'm noticing over and over.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    Not digging the pro-google stance either

    I agree with #2.

    Remember, Google is a company whose goal is to learn everything it can about you for "relevancy of advertising". They watch what sites you go to, what articles you read, emails you get, what videos and movies you watch, they even drive cars by your home and take pictures. Each may be okay in it's own rite, but collectively, it can be pretty scary and massive data-set. Google may not be evil, but it sure seems to tip-toe the line.

    You also seem to moderate people who don't tow this line.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    So...don't use Google. It's not very difficult.

     

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  5.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 20th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    Re:

    I'm pretty sure that when Google actually does something wrong, it's criticised. But, what are they usually accused of doing wrong? Photographing public places, downloading publicly wifi packets, caching thumbnails, aggregating public news stories, allowing people to find sites through their search engine, etc., etc.

    If the majority of accusations made against them had a grain of truth or were actually problematic, I'm sure you'd see more criticism. If Google seems to be defended a little too much, it's just because they're the biggest targets for the dumber lawsuits.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    "So...don't use Google. It's not very difficult."

    Sorry, Steve Jobs, I'm not you.

    I mean, I don't understand why Bubb Road in Cupertino CA is blocked from Google Streetview. Do you need to be a Friend of Eric to get privacy..?

     

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  7.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 20th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    Crack kills!
    I just checked out Bubb Road on street view, it's totally there.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

    10351 Bubb Road

     

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  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 20th, 2010 @ 1:21pm

    Re:

    Why are you always defending Google?


    I have no problem saying Google is wrong when I believe Google is wrong (a few recent examples):

    http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20100610/1358039772.shtml
    http://www.t echdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20100812/17291310611.shtml

    really think Techdirt could do with being a little bit more critical of Google.

    I have no problem being critical of Google when they deserve it, but this post isn't even defending Google. It's pointing out how silly it is to demand public images be taken off of Street View.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 1:23pm

    I can't get Bubb Road to show up on street view. The closest street view area is the freeway next to it.

     

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  11.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 20th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    "They watch what sites you go to"

    Only if you don't block Google Ads (trivial with Firefox) and use a different search engine.

    "what articles you read"

    Ditto.

    "emails you get"

    Not if you don't use GMail.

    "what videos and movies you watch"

    Not if you don't use YouTube and Google Video.

    "they even drive cars by your home and take pictures"

    ...of things that are visible from the public road to anybody who happens to be driving past at that time.

    I know what you're saying, and a healthy sense of paranoia can be a good thing, but it's very overstated in Google's case. There's very little that they do that other companies don't also do, it's just that they're better at it. Why Google tend to be singled out for this, but not Microsoft or Yahoo or Ask or any other email / search / aggregator / imaging company out there is beyond me.

    Whoever you use for those services is capable of capturing the same information - Google just don't keep it a guarded secret (although they may not openly admit certain elements of what they do for PR reasons).

    "You also seem to moderate people who don't tow this line."

    Citation needed.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    sdub, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    Privacy? Your on the internet, and worried about privacy? Get off the net and put your tinfoil hat back on, cause we know where u live.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    "Why Google tend to be singled out for this, but not Microsoft or Yahoo or Ask or any other email / search / aggregator / imaging company out there is beyond me."

    Google Search alone commands 71% of the internet search market according to Hitwise. It has over 10% of the traffic as MSN, 10% as Yahoo.

    http://www.hitwise.com/us/datacenter/main/dashboard-10133.html

    I'm still a little concerned from the events of earlier this week with Google After Dr. Schmidt came out and did a dog and pony show about identity, it made me wonder what he meant. Is Google is working on some sort of federated identity project? To offer a suggestion such as "Hey, Give Up and LEGALLY Change Your Name" seems to me more like a cop-out answer to solving technology's problems, unless there's intent to become a more legally recognized repository of information.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 1:54pm

    When you say "we" I assume you mean techdirt. Many people value their privacy, and it seems reasonable to assume that a view of a public place that is a click away is more accessible (and thus possibly less private) than a public place that a person must drive past. Why give up any more privacy than a person has to?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Danny, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    Apparently, in Germany, people can specifically request that Google remove images of certain buildings.

    Unless its private property then yes I agree its nonsense to try to blog Street View.

     

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  16. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    google street view, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    Crazy!

    All of this German street view madness is crazy. I wonder if this guy will add the license plates and faces back in as well? Here are some great Google Street View privacy invasions: http://www.streetviewfunny.com

     

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  17.  
    icon
    mattarse (profile), Aug 20th, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    Re:

    Where I absolutely disagree with google is in cases like this:
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10166532-93.html
    Where they have gone onto private roads and taken pictures.

    In many cases used to be driveways until the local government mandates they become private roads - but still function as a driveway on private property - this was the case in my parents home when a neighbor sold property that had no road access. To me this is a violation and I never understood why google fought it.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Noodle, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    Check again... The part between McClennan Rd and Stevens Creek Blvd is not there

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    "Google Search alone commands 71% of the internet search market according to Hitwise. It has over 10% of the traffic as MSN, 10% as Yahoo."

    So what. How is this a reason to not like them or single them out? If you don't like the fact that they do a better job than the competition then use a competing search engine.

    "Is Google is working on some sort of federated identity project?"

    Yeah, they're going to remotely read your mind and store your thoughts in their database. But if you wear your tin foil hat you can block it.

    "To offer a suggestion such as "Hey, Give Up and LEGALLY Change Your Name" seems to me more like a cop-out answer to solving technology's problems"

    You mean technologies non - problems. Why do you keep trying to find a solution to a non existing problem.

    "unless there's intent to become a more legally recognized repository of information."

    More legally recognized? They're already a recognized repository of information (and so is Microsoft and Yahoo) and there is nothing illegal about it. Google, MS, and Yahoo are already "legally recognized" repositories of info.

    If you mean a govt recognized repository of info, we already have the Library of Congress for that.

    Now put your tin foil back on.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    and remember, wear that tin foil very tight, but not too tight because you don't want to cut oxygen flow to your brain, and make sure that the tin foil hat covers the entire brain. Make sure there are no holes in it either, better to use double layers just in case.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Re:

    I agree, Google shouldn't be going on private roads to take pictures without authorization. Now, in that case I would say $25K is entirely too much to sue for, but still, Google has no business going on private roads without permission from the owner or someone authorized to give permission (ie: renter).

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    bigpicture, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Defending Google?

    Read the article again, it is not about Google. What I read is the silly paranoid rules that have come up about privacy. Public places cannot be private, to say they can is just patently absurd. Why are they pretending that public places are private? There is information about individuals that should be private, like possibly their age, earnings, medical history etc. But if you don't know where they live, how can you deliver mail to them? Then the whole issue about the rights of the individual versus the public good. Then there was the whole Wi-Fi thing, it was the same with satellite TV years ago, the argument being "if you don't want me stealing your radio waves, then keep them out of my yard", but again special interests and silly governments win over the rights of the individual.

     

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  23.  
    icon
    Jeremy7600 (profile), Aug 20th, 2010 @ 3:39pm

    Re:

    Seriously?

    I would still have to know the location to "drive past" on street view.

    I ask because it takes as much information on the computer as it does on the street.

    For example: There's a building downtown that is an all glass enclosed patio/courtyard type thing. In order to see it in person, you WOULD have to DRIVE there, but without knowing what street its on, you wouldn't find it if you started on the wrong side of downtown. Sure, you could drive up and down every street. You could find it that way.

    If I go to Google street view, and want to find this building, based on the sole description above (and the downtown I am referring to) you would probably not find it, unless of course, you used street view to go up and down every street in downtown, OR you KNEW the address.

    There's a disconnect between saying "its a click away" and it actually being that. If you already know the address, its no different than going there. I could stand in front of it and take all the pictures I want. I would have them, personally, but they would only be a click away because I knew they were there.

    If Joe Schmoe doesn't want his house on Street View, what does it matter? If no one knows he lives there or what his address is, either A) they can't connect the picture of his house to him or B) they can't find his house.

    If they know both, with Street View, they can get a picture of his house. And maybe what his lawn looks like, how often he waters his plants, etc.

    If they know both, and they drive there, they can WATER his plants, MOW his lawn, or even, look into the windows at the backside of the house, or bring a ladder and see into the second story windows. Not gonna do any of that from the Street View photos.

    So, you want privacy, in public? Hmmm. Those two things are at odds with each other.

     

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  24.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Aug 20th, 2010 @ 4:02pm

    Re:

    Why give up any more privacy than a person has to?

    I don't understand what privacy you're giving up. The privacy of not having anyone know there's a house there? The privacy of what the outside of your house looks like? The privacy of doing something visible from a public street? None of those sound like privacy to me.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    >>"Is Google is working on some sort of federated identity project?"
    >Yeah, they're going to remotely read your mind and store your thoughts in their database. But if you wear your tin foil hat you can block it.

    What?? Who said anything about tinfoil hats? My question was serious and you end up mocking it. Google already uses Federated ID for it's own services using google.com/accounts.

    >> "To offer a suggestion such as "Hey, Give Up and LEGALLY Change Your Name" seems to me more like a cop-out answer to solving technology's problems"
    > You mean technologies non - problems. Why do you keep trying to find a solution to a non existing problem.

    NO, it is a problem. Paper records and notes can be destroyed, CD discs go bad, all creating their own opportunities for re-assertion of the facts. I am pointing out that at least Google's CEO, at least for a minute, showed a view into his perspective of perpetually available information. At the same time, he seems to hold it's own information in as high regard as other public such as the LoC, and court system repositories. But what's interesting is that if it's not on the public Google website (site goes defunct, deleted Facebook account etc) it normally wouldn't be searchable. Google seems to think that it's still available but not by normal means. Could this (non-viewable and assumed deleted) information be monetized at one point in time? It is possible.

    >>>"Now put your tin foil back on."
    Thanks, but I don't have one. In fact, that's just spiteful. When people pose these real questions to you in real life that you don't agree to, do you fill the lack of your knowledge with personally-charged statement? Clever!

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 5:10pm

    You should all go talk to Jon Newton at P2PNet. He'll set you straight on how you should have complete and total privacy in public. That is, if he doesn't just delete your post, which he'll do if you try to defend Google in any way. Or if you criticize him. or if you post something he simply doesn't like...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    >and remember, wear that tin foil very tight, but not too tight because you don't want to cut oxygen flow to your brain, and make sure that the tin foil hat covers the entire brain. Make sure there are no holes in it either, better to use double layers just in case.


    Don't you mean *YOUR* tin foil hat? Here's my question- what do you have to gain by silencing people who merely point out flaws in your position?

    Secondly, why is it that the guy who drives without a license plate on his car the only one who can get Streetview pictures quietly offline? These things don't make sense.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    What would you suggest ... bing? - omg ! you're sooo lame.

    Learn to control what information you leak while surfing ... it really is up to you at this point - that may change at any moment.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    "Google already uses Federated ID for it's own services using google.com/accounts. "

    So what, if you don't like it then don't sign up.

    "Paper records and notes can be destroyed"

    So what?

    "showed a view into his perspective of perpetually available information."

    and? I think such a thing is a good thing, especially for historians and generations to come.

    "At the same time, he seems to hold it's own information in as high regard as other public such as the LoC, and court system repositories."

    So?

    "Google seems to think that it's still available but not by normal means."

    What?

    So if the info gets deleted from public search it's still privately cached. Citation? and if true, so? and what makes you think Microsoft and Yahoo don't do this? It was public at one time, if you don't want your info public then delete it.

    "Could this (non-viewable and assumed deleted) information be monetized at one point in time? It is possible."

    and?

    "When people pose these real questions"

    What real questions?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 6:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    errr, if you don't want your info public then don't post it. But you can't take back what you previously said.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 6:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    (ie: don't open a facebook account and don't give any websites your personal info).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 6:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    and even if Google does privately store data that people have publicly made available at one time via facebook, it's not like Google is the only corporation that privately stores public data.

    Your argument is analogous to the present publicly making a promise and later saying that, for private reasons, he has a right to have all copies of his promise on videos deleted. The media can even profit by replaying the video because doing so gets more viewers. GASP!!! No, he has no such right. If the president doesn't want people repeating the video of his promises then don't publicly make promises.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    "why is it that the guy who drives without a license plate on his car the only one who can get Streetview pictures quietly offline? These things don't make sense."

    What? Citation, since you are being very discontinuous with regard to what you are referring to.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    "what do you have to gain by silencing people who merely point out flaws in your position? "

    I'm not trying to silence you and you haven't pointed out any flaws in anyone's position.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    (and clearly it's not quiet since you know about it. Also, who's to say that this person without a license plate is the only one who can get street - view pictures taken offline? Have you tried to get any of your pictures taken offline? Have you asked Google to remove a picture of your car?)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2010 @ 8:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    err... for privacy reasons *

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Aug 20th, 2010 @ 11:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    It's true, the only thing in that section is the 'Aeroflex Sign'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Aug 21st, 2010 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Not digging the pro-google stance either

    "they even drive cars by your home and take pictures."

    Well, I can see in Europe why this might bother people because it stops the security cameras blanketing large cities like London, Paris and Berlin from taking pictures of all the comings and goings from a residence in the off chance of of them may be "the terrorists" or may harm "the children".

    Heck. One of them might escape the long arm of the law, you know!

    What I'm saying is that before you worry about Google and why and what it's doing what it is I'd be more concerned about governments. At least data Google collects isn't frequently found on laptops in accessible condition in the McDonald's nearest the Pentagon, or the Tim's outside the DND HQ in Ottawa or patient records that end up in the dumpster a couple of blocks from a hospital. (Not real incidents but near enough.)

    I'd say, off hand, that Google does a much better job protecting data than big brother.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Rooker, Aug 21st, 2010 @ 6:01pm

    D-bag

    That photographer's a douchebag. I'm sure he has a perfectly legal right to do it but he's a pure douchebag and an asshole. I hope Google suspends his Picassa account.

    Whether it makes sense or not, if someone opts out of having pictures of themselves or their property published on the most-visited website on Earth, it should be respected.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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