Google Begins Blurring German Houses In Street View On Request

from the second-blur-on-the-left dept

In one of the more ridiculous overreactions to screams of “privacy,” Germany recently required Google to agree to “blur” any Street View images at the request of property owners. That anyone could just drive/walk/fly by and view the same property perfectly clearly, didn’t seem to register with those making the rules. Apparently 3% of homeowners have demanded their homes be blurred, and Google has now blurred the images. Chris Matyszczyk, over at CNET, took the following screenshot:

I’m trying to figure out how this helps anyone. Is it really protecting anyone’s actual privacy to have the image of their house blurred in this nature? Is there really so much info in such an image that it was a serious concern pre-blurring?

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Comments on “Google Begins Blurring German Houses In Street View On Request”

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87 Comments
harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: Re: Even more alarming...

“….some guy from pasedena named WaloWizard…”

on topic, honestly who really cares?
yes, i could drive right by there and look at it for myself. but on the other hand, some people just dont want their house visible on said site. are they paranoid or suffering from delusions of gradure? very probable yes.

are politicians grandstanding over the smallest most insignifigant google related issues possible? absolutely.

but i really dont see this particular one as either an actual problem or a newsworthy event either way. of course, thats just my personal opinion…

James Carmichael (profile) says:

Shame

That’s a real shame Google hasn’t stood up to this one in courts instead. What does it say for common sense? What possible ‘damages’ could this blurring possibly cause?

I do understand that they’re trying not to offend anyone especially now that ‘privacy’ is such a huge deal. But they’re not doing anything wrong dammit! It’s not like they have anything to apologize for. And if they keep backing up, it’ll make it look like they were wrong all along.

Come on Google, it’s normal for people to be worried about their privacy, but you don’t have to listen to the crazy ones. Perhaps education would be a more successful effort?

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Shame

So you would support a law that makes it illegal to photograph someone else’s property?

If so, do you have ANY photo’s that you have taken outside? It is VERY likely that you have violated these laws.

I think privacy is important and I do not want anyone violating my privacy. However, the outside of my house IS NOT PRIVATE – it is outside – in public. Once something is out in public, it seems pretty reasonable to lose it’s privacy rights.

What you are suggesting – by simply saying Google should respect people’s privacy in this way – also suggests that the local news should not be able to photograph a crime scene on someone’s front lawn. Is that really your position?

Anonymous Coward says:

I really don’t believe this is a privacy issue at all, but some people think differently of course.

But I don’t think this is why the German government did what they did, some possible scenarios:

– The government is afraid of a foreign entity mapping their landscape.
– German politicians may be afraid of being target by “radicals”

Privacy is just the excuse at least it seems that way to me.
3% is a rounding error in statistics, so why are the government taking this kind of measures for such a small group that has no evidence of harm at hand?

The cynic in me just don’t believe that “privacy” is the real issue.

Spectere (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Once again, this is data that you can get by simply traveling there and taking a stroll. Hell, if you wanted to, you could stand in the middle of the street with a camera phone and go to town.

If an entity really wants to map out the landscape or if radical groups wanted to target individual houses for whatever reason, they’ll just go there. Street view is outdated enough where it wouldn’t be particularly useful for either of those situations. And I can’t imagine a radical sitting down in front of a PC saying, “well, I guess we’re not going to hit that mark; the house is blurred on Google Maps!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Indeed but did I say it needed to be rational or logic?

We are not dealing with rational people here and trying to understand why they did it comes a long way to counter acting this kind of thing in the future.

I’m not trying to justify them, I’m trying to see what others reasons there are that people don’t want to talk about it, those are the reasons that are the real guide to what is happening, not the official B.S. they put for the public.

lostalaska (profile) says:

Knee jerk reaction?

I work in IT in Juneau, Alaska and when the google street view car came through our town the users at work started freaking out. I heard a lot of “What if…” scenereos, but the most common one was from parents worried a pedophile could use Google street view to find houses with kids toys out front that they could target. I tried to explain that it was all shot from public property and that it was perfectly legal and the most common response I would get was that we need laws to make this kind of thing illegal. Regardless of how potentially useful, and legal it is.

What did I learn from all this? People will ignore facts and laws and lean on emotional pleas and “it’s for the children” to try get their way regardless of the legality of the situation. So tired of B.S. moral panics for uptight fearful people trying to force their will/fears onto everyone else.

I’m gonna go grab some coffee and try to get back to work. I’m surprisingly annoyed and cranky for 3:30 in the afternoon.

pringerX (profile) says:

Ease of access

I think the point that the rules were trying to get at is ease of access. With StreetView, it is very easy to survey a a neighborhood for malicious purposes. That being said, it is also fairly easy to do the same on foot or in a car if you are in the area; StreetView also doesn’t update very frequently. Overall it seems more like an overreaction than anything else, but a dangerous one at that if it keeps up.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No one can find it because it’s blurry on Street View? That doesn’t make sense at all.

First, blurry on Street View is not the same thing as absent on satellite or map view. Next, Google is not the only mapping service.

Believe me, blurry buildings on Street View are not going to stop anyone from finding a business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s not completely unthinkable. I have used street view to help confirm the location of businesses several times. Sometimes google maps can’t parse an address correctly and only gives an approximate location. Using street view to find out if business X is where you think it is can be very helpful.

I’m not claiming blurriness will “stop someone from finding it”, but it can be a mild inconvenience.

Jay (profile) says:

Part of the problem is that there is no universally accepted definition of privacy. So it’s impossible to answer your question, “is it really protecting anyone’s actual privacy”, unless we know what privacy is…

The best definition I have seen is: Privacy is what people believe they have lost when they complain about their privacy being infringed.

So in that sense, yes this blurring would be better protecting those peoples privacy.

In another sense, just because you inherently cant hide something from a very small group of people (those walking down my street) does not make it ok for millions of people to see it (everyone on the internet). Allowing less people to see it is making it more private, if not entirely private. Therefore better protecting my privacy.

scarr (profile) says:

Re: I'm a blurrer right here in the US.

“It makes me more comfortable” is not a good reason. There’s plenty of stuff that could be done to make certain people more comfortable, but you aren’t allowed to do any of it if it infringes on someone else’s rights.

It’s within Google’s rights to offer selective blurring. It isn’t within a citizen’s, nor the law’s rights to demand Google take down a picture taken in public.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Re: Other's reasons are not for *you* to judge.

Freedom is being able to say NO, even without a rational basis, on *any* basis at all. You are not the arbiter of other’s reasons, sonny, or even of whether they’re “good”.

Google is a *corporation*. It has *zero* inherent rights, while “natural” persons do. It’s only that “natural” persons grant it that a corporation exists at all — and the special privileges granted to those legal fictions need to be greatly curtailed, before commercial interests destroy *all* privacy except for those behind high walls.

So you end up asserting that actual persons must yield to intrustion by a legal *fiction*. Must be a lawyer.

This infringes rights of persons because it’s NEW and due solely to *technological* advance. It’s now possible for Google to purchase backscatter X-ray vans for even more intrusion. This is a good place to have the fight over “privacy” rather than the *next* level.

scarr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Other's reasons are not for *you* to judge.

Your freedom is limited by the rights of others. To believe otherwise is the definition of anarchy.

Rose M. Welch asked the question of me, and every other reader here, as to whether hers was a good reason. I responded in kind. It’s funny to me that you would champion freedom while suggesting I shouldn’t be free to voice my opinion.

Whether or not a corporation is a “legal fiction”, the freedom of any person to take a picture of a house from the street and post it on the internet is protected by law. It isn’t a violation of privacy. Whether a different person takes the photo from the one who uploads it doesn’t affect those rights. If they make some money by selling ads where people view their photographs, that’s allowed too.

It can’t be emphasized enough that these are photographs (which are not invasive, if you know anything about the physics of light) taken from a public place. If they were blasting x-rays across neighbourhoods, I would agree that’s going too far (for anybody).

If corporations are indeed a fiction, then why should (or how would) their rights to take and post pictures be limited beyond those of any individual person? That seems like an arbitrary distinction to make.

Lastly, if you care, I’m not a lawyer. You weren’t right about that either.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Other's reasons are not for *you* to judge.

Interesting…

Rose has a right to feel safe and secure in her home.

Google has a right to take a photo of her house and post it on the internet.

Google asserting their right infringes Rose’s right. One must give way to the other. Does Rose’s right trump simply because she is a natural person? That would be a slippery slope I think fraught with danger. To get around it it would be simple for an individual who took the photo’s to assert their right, independent of Google.

So whose right gives way? There is simply no correct answer, simply someone must make a choice which guaranteed to piss someone off.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Re: I'm a blurrer right here in the US.

Yes, it is a good reason. If I’m not comfortable with how Google handles the information that I see as mine, no matter how irrational that premise might be, then I’m not going to user Google’s services.

In addition, only a tiny fraction of people are going to take advantage of this option, but a large percentage of people are likely to be comforted by the availability alone, making this option a good choice for Google.

At no point did I state that Google did not have the right to take a picture or video of my home. I simply stated that my comfort is a good reason for Google to choose to offer a way to opt-out of that service.

scarr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I'm a blurrer right here in the US.

With the story being about Germany requiring Google to have the feature, I assumed you meant the law had good reason. If I misunderstood, I apologize.

I’m not saying it isn’t a smart move on Google’s part to let people opt/blur out. As you point out, it improves perception of their company. I agree with you there completely (even if it irks me when people opt out).

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'm a blurrer right here in the US.

I guess you missed the parts where it said ‘I’m a blurrer right here in the US.’ and ‘for more than a year’. Meh. It happens. ๐Ÿ˜›

Actually, in light of this option being available in a different country for such a long period of time, I wonder how much of a ‘requirement’ it really was. Maybe the German government went, ‘Hey, we don’t like this!’ and Google went, ‘Okay, tell you what you can do…’.

The post says ‘required Google to agree’, not ‘ordered Google to comply’, which leaves alot of room for doubt about Google’s implied reluctance. In fact, I read a different article that quoted German authorities being surprised at Google’s opt-out program. (That’s here, by the way.)

As for your irkedness (Is that a word?), you’re welcome to come take a photo of my home whenever you like. I don’t even have a fence in front (Stupid city ordinances…) so you’d be able to see it just fine, with no blurriness at all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rekrul says:

Re: I'm a blurrer right here in the US.

My home has been blurred for more than a year, and you can’t do directly to it on Street View. If you try and stop in front of it, it skips to the next house.

Is there a good reason for it? Yes, it makes me more comfortable.

I don’t understand this thinking. Nobody online has the slightest clue what your address is and without knowing that, there’s no way they can look up your house on Street View. If someone is looking at your street in Street View and looks at your house, there’s nothing there to indicate who lives there, so they can’t track you down online. If you’ve given your address to someone online, and they turn out not to be trustworthy, you have better things to worry about than them looking at an outdated photo of your house.

Besides, I’m having a hard time trying to think of a scenario where someone could use a photo of your house for any kind of nefarious purpose.

I would think that a bigger privacy concern would be using your real name (or what appears to be your real name) to post on the net, along with a photo of yourself.

Why are you comfortable telling the whole world your name and showing them your photo, but yet having someone see an unconnected photo of your house bothers you? Especially as your later post invite people to come and photograph your house for themselves.

For myself, the only objection I have to photos of my home on Street View is that they were taken in late fall when the trees were all bare, making the photos look quite dreary.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: Re: I'm a blurrer right here in the US.

For myself, the only objection I have to photos of my home on Street View is that they were taken in late fall when the trees were all bare, making the photos look quite dreary.

Ha! I have the same issue with my Street View picture!

I also agree with the rest of your post as well. If someone already knows where I live, Street View won’t tell them anything they can’t find out by driving up to my house. If someone sees my house in Street View, but has no idea who I am or who lives there, then so what? It’s just another in a row of houses along the street.

You can find out a lot more about me by looking at my Techdirt profile than you could by looking at my house on Street View, and I would think the same would apply to Rose M. Welch.

scarr (profile) says:

I wish Google would stand up for itself

This is a silly extension to what Google caved on a couple years ago. People complained about the higher resolution images Street View provided, so they lowered the quality across the board.

The high-res images were tremendously useful when you were trying to figure out in advance which building you were supposed to be going to on a street. You could zoom in on doors and read the street address. It helped save me driving around or backtracking multiple times.

The same arguments hold up there. It’s all photography of public places that any car can, by definition, go to. It’s a useful service, and that use is being diminished by reducing the quality of the images.

G Thompson (profile) says:

So what happens when some industrious radical decides to create a web site that lists all of these blurred places.
Then that same site allows photo’s (from the public street of course) to be uploaded showing the exact same address that is currently blurred and then creates a linkages between the photos and the actual Google map location?

Are these people then going to try to send Cease and Desist letters? IS the German Government going to try to close the site down, remembering photo’s from a public street of private property (that is not of military or national security interests) are STILL legal in Germany

Hmmmm… I think I just came up with my new project… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There is already a project in Germany to do pretty much that. A project to re-photograph all the blurred houses and post images in the clear of these locations.

I think a little creative photo shopping on these houses is in order. One becomes a brothel, another a crack house another has six cars on blocks added to the front yard….

DMNTD says:

Its a never ending story...

What it is with you poogle’s(people)??? Why does it even bother you? These little rule changes decided by google are not going to effect your future. There is no ground for google to “keep” track of. They are not loosing anything by letting the loud people blur up a chosen house. As I have stated MANY times before useless technology’s don’t need to be defended and by far this is not going to cause world peace or the unification of the human race.

But as for me just because you can does not mean you should and if you still decide to do something with that meme attached to it, then be ready to under the bus at any given time.

darryl says:

When are you going to tell the TRUTH Mike. ???

Lets see what do we have today?

Apparently 3% of homeowners have demanded their homes be blurred, and Google has now blurred the images.

Want the facts Mike, or as you well know the facts do you want me to relay those real facts to your readers ?

244,000 hourseholds demanded their houses not to be shown..

You 3% of homeowners have demanded

Google estimated in a statement released Thursday that the requests amount to about 3 percent of the total number of households in Germany’s 20 largest cities,

http://www.startribune.com/science/105424043.html

so its not 3% TOTAL, its 3% of the total number of households in Germany’s 20 largest cities !!! According to an independent source….. GOOGLE ITSELF. !!!!! we can really trust that figure !!..

IT WAS ALSO 244,000 HOUSEHOLDS 1 MONTH BEFORE GOOGLE EVEN STARTED STREET VIEW.. EXPECT MANY MORE !!!

So again, why lie ? why not tell us the truth, give us all the facts and let us decide. Why spin it for your own gains Mike ?

Or are you getting kickbacks from google as a reward for spinning and lying for them ? I hope you make alot of money for it, selling your reputation should not be cheap..

____________________

The controversy surrounding Google’s Street View mapping program continued on Monday, as privacy officials in Italy announced that they would enforce restrictions on the service.

There has been strong alarm and also hostility in a lot of European countries against Google taking photos. We have received protests even from local administrations,” Privacy Authority President Francesco Pizzetti told Italian newspaper La Stampa, according to Reuters.

The announcement comes following a blog post written by Alan Eustace, Google’s Senior VP of Engineering & Research last Friday, in which he admitted that that analysis of the data collected by the Street View vehicles showed that most of it was “fragmentary,” but that “in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords.”

I LOVE THIS ONE !!!!!

“We want to delete this data as soon as possible, and I would like to apologize again for the fact that we collected it in the first place,” Eustace added. “We are mortified by what happened, but confident that these changes to our processes and structure will significantly improve our internal privacy and security practices for the benefit of all our users.”

Yes, that is Eustace, Googles Senior VP of Engineering & Research.

“We are mortified by what happened, but confident that these changes to our processes and structure will significantly improve our internal privacy and security practices for the benefit of all our users.”

So here is a big boss at Google saying their internal privacy and security can be SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED.

You cannot get a significant improvement on something that is allready significantly good. the ONLY way you can make a significant improvement is if your system sucks in the first place. Which is what this VP is freely admitting..

Again, that 244,000 households opting out in Germany is ONLY SO FAR,, its 1 month BEFORE the data collection is to take place.

There are going to be MANY MANY MORE,, and next time tell the truth, it was not 244,000 households in germany it was Googles estimation of how much of the population it is from 20 of the largest cites on Germany.

Is there really so much info in such an image that it was a serious concern pre-blurring?

Yes, Mike there IS, and thank goodness for that too, its not about the info its about common decency and privacy. If I choose NOT to have my house on Google, THAT IS MY FREAKING RIGHT..

Mike just because you cannot thing of any ways that streetview could be used for sinister purposes, DOES NOT MEAN THAT THERE is an infinite amount of ways information can be abused. Yes, that includes information that you could get yourself, like streetview.

The simple one ofcourse is for the house burgler, he would be stupid not to ‘case out’ his target or even SELECT his targets based on the size, quality and expense of the house, after all if you are going to break into a house break into a house where the owners look wealthy.

What about internet scams, and fishing, if you are going to do that, you are better of scamming rich people, want to know if they have money, check out the house they live in.. Good indicator.

You get advertising, based on your house and location, so you would be targetted, mabey people would look at your lawn and pester you for gardening work, or house painting, or fixing that broken tile I noticed on streetview..

That is the tip of the iceburg, and you cannot even think of one possible situation where this information could be put to bad uses..

Its a perfect way for a criminal to guage the demographic of their possible ‘mark’. If you are going to rob someone, you might as well see if they have a big house, and money to spare.

Then there are the many people at the other end of the spectrum that would not want to have their houses on streetview, it might not be a nice house, or in a nice area, it might look crappy from the outside, but be perfect inside.. They might not liked to be judged and classified by others..

But Mike you can see NONE OF THIS !!!!.. Are you blind ??
Or just in Googles pocket ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: When are you going to tell the TRUTH Mike. ???

WTF! We need an anti-daryl script, this long post get my finger tired scrolling it down.

Better yet, how about a collapsible CSS post box this way all post would have a maximum size and if they are interesting people just click to unhide them.

Now I’m almost making a script to hunt down and erase daryl from my digital life ๐Ÿ™‚

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: When are you going to tell the TRUTH Mike. ???

Mike’s in Googles pocket?

In the voice of Anthony Daniels in “The Life of Brian”
Oh that Lucky bastard [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG63OtsKC7k ] ๐Ÿ˜‰

as for your pedantic post Daryl I’m sorry but I must abide by the number 1 commandment for Internet Forums

Do not Feed the Troll.

Jaws4theRevenge (profile) says:

Re: When are you going to tell the TRUTH Mike. ???

Dude, do me a favour: read over what you posted. Now, imagine that it was someone else who had posted that. Does it seem to you, perhaps, that the grammar, punctuation capitalization and spelling indicate a sane person capable of logical discourse?

I’m going to guess that it does, for you. For everyone else here, you look like a crazy person.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Requirement? Really?

I was able to blur my home in the US over a year ago. In fact, if you try to use Street View to move to it, it slides past, to the next house, which is kinda nice. ๐Ÿ™‚

In light of that, I wonder how much of a ‘requirement’ it really was. Maybe the German government went, ‘Hey, we don’t like this!’ and Google went, ‘Okay, tell you what you can do…’.

The post says ‘required Google to agree’, not ‘ordered Google to comply’, which leaves alot of room for doubt about Google’s implied reluctance. In fact, I read a different article that quoted German authorities being surprised at Google’s opt-out program. (That’s here, by the way.)

Anyway…

darryl says:

Now the UK and Canada, banned in the Czech Repulbic

A few weeks ago Mike was spouting about how the UK cleared Google for collecting WiFi data.

Then why has he not posted the fact, that the UK Government, have been critical of the ICO that cleared Google, and said they failed to properly investigate.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11684952

Instead, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will audit Google’s data protection practices.

The move marks a U-turn for the ICO which originally ruled that no data breach had occurred.

Last week the ICO vowed to look again at the evidence, after the Canadian data agency found the search giant in breach of its law.

“The ICO failed to act when it should have done, despite the fact that Google staged a significant infringement of privacy and civil liberties, by harvesting millions of e-mails, wi-fi addresses, and passwords.

“Furthermore, the ICO has already proved that it lacks the technical expertise to audit Google’s activity. What confidence can we have in their audit now? People feel powerless.”

So the list of countries that think Google needs to be reigned in, and stop google from thinking they can do what they like. With the full support of Mike..

weneedhelp (profile) says:

???

Maybe I just dont want my house on there. It is nice to see them respecting the wishes of the homeowners. You may think: “Is there really so much info in such an image that it was a serious concern pre-blurring? ” But that is not for us to be the judge of. If there are people out there that are uncomfortable, then we should respect their wishes in this matter. Does not matter what you and I think or feel. Lucky for me, all you see on street view is 1/3 of my driveway.

Jon Noowtun says:

In one of the more ridiculous overreactions to screams of “privacy,” Germany recently required Google to agree to “blur” any Street View images at the request of property owners. That anyone could just drive/walk/fly by and view the same property perfectly clearly, didn’t seem to register with those making the rules.

It’s different because Gargle is EVIL!!!!!

I’m trying to figure out how this helps anyone. Is it really protecting anyone’s actual privacy to have the image of their house blurred in this nature? Is there really so much info in such an image that it was a serious concern pre-blurring?

You’re obviously a Goggle fanboi or a paid shill!!!!

Someone needs to censor… err, I mean delete this obviously piece of Gobble propaganda!!!!!

http://www.Pee2PeeNet.net

pringerX (profile) says:

@ R. Welch

Your comments on blurring are insightful, but I tend to agree with the majority of fellow posters that Google has the right to take photos for StreetView. However, a line probably needs to be drawn somewhere. Consider this situation:
If instead of the StreetView vehicle it was some scruffy dude driving a dingy old van cruising around your neighborhood taking photos, most people would call the police for “suspicious activity”. But fundamentally, how is that any different from the the Google van doing the same?

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re: @ R. Welch

The difference is intent. And there’s nothing illegal in a scruffy dude in a van taking pictures from the street either. You may not like it, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do it. Now if he’s stalking children and you have proof of that, that’s one thing, but if he (or Google) drive slowly down the street taking pictures of everyone’s houses, that’s legal.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Blurring houses

I have found this to be useful. People who insist on blurring houses, unlisted numbers, etc. – extreme reactions, generally – tend to be weird.
Where it is useful? When someone has a “private” number, or a blurred house, etc., I avoid them. I have found that it increases the quality of my life, and has no negative side effects.

Gregg L. DesElms (profile) says:

The sheer numbers is the elephant in the room

I agree that it seems, at least superficially, somewhat silly to blur a Google Street View image of a house when anyone can just walk or drive past in the real world and both see it just fine, and look at it all they want…

…er… you know… at least until someone in the neighborhood starts getting creeped out by their just standing there and staring at it. Still, given that, I completely understand why it’s so difficult for so many people to understand what is the big deal about someone’s home be viewable in Google’s Street View.

However, the thing that those very people seem to either forget, or not grasp, or maybe even just choose to not consider (which I’ve noticed is often true about young people who’ve grown-up in a high-tech world where privacy and other rights are rapidly disappearing) is the SHEER NUMBERS aspect of the Internet, and how that fundamentally changes the entire dynamic.

In the real world, mostly only those who live in the neighborhood, and/or work there, and/or who visit the neighborhood for some other reason would likely ever see the home; and the knowledge of that — the relatively small numbers of persons included in that — affords the homeowner at least a SENSE of relative privacy…

…in much the same manner as one can derive a relative sense of privacy even when on a public street in a crowd because, though it’s right out in the open where everyone can see, all the other people around make it so that no one person is likely to be noticed all that much by anyone omnisciently observing the entire street. You know… a “hide in plane site” sort of notion. That same person walking down that same street would feel considerably less private if either the crowd were smaller, or s/he were completely alone.

Granted, anyone from anywhere in the world — and any number of them, to boot — could physically travel to wherever is the blurred house and walk or drive past it unimpeded…

…but part of the homeowner’s sense of relative privacy rests in his/her knowledge that most people won’t go to that kind of trouble.

Google’s Street View robs them of that sense. And some people find that so disconcerting that they just can’t live with it. Maybe — in fact, I’d guess that — a lot of them are a little older and aren’t really that much a part of the whole Internet thing, and so are just too freaked-out by the notion of it. Who knows.

In any case, I think it’s very understandable that some people who live their lives more in the brick and mortar world than in the virtual one would be uncomfortable with potentially BILLIONS of people from outside their neighborhood being able to view their home as if they were, in fact, in their neighborhood.

And there could be any number of other reasons, too…

…like, for example, that they just don’t want the ENTIRE world, beyond those in their neighborhoods, to know that… I dunno… to know that their house maybe isn’t as nice as they wish it was, or that the don’t maintain it as well as they wish they could afford to do.

Granted, some of the reasons why they’d want the image of their home blurred might be nefarious. A jerk operating a degree mill from his home would obviously not want the world to know that his mill’s “campus” is just a 4th Street townhouse… or worse.

But I’m not talking about people trying to pull a fast one. Rather, I’m simply talking about people who’ve lived their entire lives in a brick-and-mortar world, who maybe use the Internet, or maybe don’t (and if they do, it’s just to look stuff up, maybe pay bills, maybe use email), and who have learned to live with those physically in their neighborhods (and those living close enough thereto to drive to them) being able to stare at their houses; but who just can’t get their minds or emotions wrapped around the notion of even someone in Beijing being able to stare at it online.

It just gives them the willies, even though they have a difficult time articulating precisely why. It just does, and they know it, and that’s all there is to it.

Does the advent of the Internet have the right to rob them of the difficult-to-articulate sense of relative privacy that they’ve enjoyed all their lives just so a new generation of youngsters who are rapidly devaluing and trading-away certain elements of their privacy in order to avail themselves of the new world of technology which now dominates their lives?

I don’t know. I say, probably not. I say that that new world should maybe have a little respect for the old one; and should at least wait until those of us in that old one have died-off first before finally denuding whatever world is left of all sense of relative privacy…

…as is, clearly, the direction in which we’re all headed.

Friends and family tell me it’s morbid, but at age 54, and with maybe 20 to 30 years left on this spinning rock, I’ve been saying, alot, lately, that I’m kinda’ glad I wont’ be around to see what becomes of this place… nearly complete loss of privacy, loss of certain civil rights, global warming and concomitant climate change and rise in sea levels, corporations with the same rights as people, the complete extinction of the middle class and the gaping maw that will become the gap between the rich and the poor (and all which naturally attends that)…

…and more. Indeed, I’m glad I won’t be around to see the apex of THAT trend’s curve. Though I do feel sorry for the young. They will have really missed something; and I fear that the quality of their lives will be gravely diminished, yet they won’t even realize it… as most of them have no idea what they’re both ignoring, devaluing and trading away.

[sigh]

_________________________________________
Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com

darryl says:

Re: The sheer numbers is the elephant in the room

Very well said, and a good point, some people like to ‘live in a quite’ neibourhood, they do not want millions of virtual people looking at their house.

Many people choose their location vary carfully, and pay alot of money for that sense of privacy, and security.

Does google pay me any money for page views of my house ? or do they keep ALL the profit for themselves ?

After all, why is Google doing it ? is it to provide a community service ? No. I dont think so.

ITS TO MAKE MONEY.. they are not doing it for the good of the people, or the community, they are doing it because information is power, but its ONLY POWER if you US that information.

Google will use that information and power to make money.

The money Google makes is money that everyone pays extra for the products they buy, and for the Google advertising they pay for. Where do you think the billions of dollars Google makes comes from ?

Yes, big business, And who does the big businesses get their money off ? YOU..

So YOU pay Google, through every product you buy, and they use that money to gather information, they use that information to gain power, and they use that power to make more money.. again OFF YOU..

Great system.. for google… Sucks if you dont use Google, and have to pay google anyway.

abc gum says:

Re: Re: The sheer numbers is the elephant in the room

“So YOU pay Google, through every product you buy, and they use that money to gather information, they use that information to gain power, and they use that power to make more money.. again OFF YOU..”

If you think Google is worst offender in this category, you are not very well informed. Perhaps your tinfoil hat needs adjustment.

darryl says:

This comment has been flagged by the community !!

Great THANKS guys, now its like the Google blurred house, people will be interested in what scares you so much in what I say, what truths I speak that you run from with such vigour.. LOL..

Sure, I posted links and facts, that must be terrifing for you, to be confronted with truth, and the facts.

Again, thanks a heap.. made my day ๐Ÿ™‚

To censor me is to fear me, or fear the truth at least..

Damn shame you cant burn any books that I have written, that would make you feel better..

Any Mouse says:

Re: This comment has been flagged by the community !!

Or maybe it’s because you’re an obnoxious twit polluting the pages with your garbage?

And in response to the post previous to this one: Don’t you know that you pay the drug runners to sneak drugs into this country? They sell to dealers, and dealers sell to crack fiends who get on welfare! Maybe you should stop paying taxes!

Dark Penguin (profile) says:

Re:

Also when you need to go to an unfamiliar address you could use Google Street View to find out what the building looks like and where the entrance to the parking area is, and similar useful information. As far as I can tell now this is becoming less and less available; from using SV to poke around a couple of downtown L.A. neighborhoods, addresses, building signs, and even street signs are blurred to uselessness.

Dark Penguin (profile) says:

Re:

If privacy can’t be defined except as a negative, then it’s a dangerous concept on which to formulate policies to deal with public information.

With regard to those who acknowledge the public’s right to walk or drive down their streets, yet get hysterical about somebody using Street View, I have to wonder if it’s more about their attitude toward whoever is doing the looking. If someone can just drive over to your street, then they live near you and are perceived as the right kind of people. Poor people across the ocean, who can’t afford to travel, are the “wrong” kind, and don’t need to be catered to.

From what I’ve observed lately, even in public areas SV has become next to useless.

Dark Penguin (profile) says:

Re:

“In another sense, just because you inherently cant hide something from a very small group of people (those walking down my street) does not make it ok for millions of people to see it (everyone on the internet).”

It’s *still* a very small group of Internet users who would happen to see your street. I’m not denying that, if your house isn’t blurred, everyone in the world with a computer *could* look at your house if they wanted to, but they wouldn’t do that, plain and simple. Nobody’s that interested in your house or street, and unless you live right next door to a famous historic or cultural monument, virtually nobody in another city or country is going to look at your house. Just as the real people who drive or walk down it are most likely simply on their way to somewhere else and couldn’t care less about your house.

Dark Penguin (profile) says:

Blurring houses

If it were just blurring private houses I might be able to get behind it, but now vast public areas in cities are being blurred right here in America too. There are always pedestrians and number plates visible in any busy street. Downtown L.A. is just one huge blur these days.

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7469/15928545339_20bc63c13d_o_d.png

Dark Penguin (profile) says:

The sheer numbers is the elephant in the room

“…er… you know… at least until someone in the neighborhood starts getting creeped out by their just standing there and staring at it. Still, given that, I completely understand why it’s so difficult for so many people to understand what is the big deal about someone’s home be viewable in Google’s Street View.”

This is a false analogy, however. For all the hoopla, the nature and use of SV bears little if any comparison to a stranger setting up a camera on your corner and taking pictures for even one day. The day after the Google car drives through, its pictures begin to go out of date, at least until the area is photographed again. It doesn’t allow anyone to stalk you or to monitor your behavior.

Dark Penguin (profile) says:

I'm a blurrer right here in the US.

In the case of Germany, though, it’s no longer a case of some random objectors demanding to have their houses blurred. Because of the furore Google has canned SV in Germany (and a few other countries). What imagery already exists is being allowed to stand, subject to any future additional blurring orders, but is not being updated or expanded.

From looking around the Internet, not all Germans are pleased at this development by any means.

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