UK Privacy Activist Claims Google Maps Is Illegal

from the oh-come-on dept

We've seen some silly claims about Google Maps/Google Earth lately, and they just keep coming. The latest is that a privacy activist in the UK is going to issue a legal challenge against Google's Street View offering in the UK, claiming that the photos violate peoples' privacy. Note: these are all photos of people in public places. The UK government has apparently given the go-ahead for Street View in the UK, but this guy is going to challenge that ruling, claiming that Google needs to get prior consent from everyone in the photos before using them. He's not at all satisfied that Google allows the blurring of faces and the ability to take down photos you really dislike. It doesn't sound like this legal challenge will go very far. The guy isn't even sure what law he's going to accuse Google of breaking, and the lawyers quoted in the article seem quite skeptical that there's anything illegal about the Street View product.
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Filed Under: google maps, privacy, street view, uk

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2009 @ 11:21am

    Is it Weird Harold ?

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

  2. identicon
    Alan Gerow, 20 Mar 2009 @ 11:23am

    Yet, in London, as soon as you drive into the city, your license place is photographed and run through image processors to find out who you are. The moment you enter the city the government has you on camera until you leave. They monitor 24/7/365, and want to expand their camera network. This is fine with people, but getting caught on camera once a couple months ago when they were standing in front of a place being photographed is a major problem that will ruin the world.

    I trust private companies with that information infinitely more than I would ever trust a bureaucrat or police officer. Google wants to show people where things are ... the government wants to show people the inside of a jail cage. Or at least throw fines at them so they can justify the cost of putting up all those cameras in the first place.

    Google has done more to protect my privacy than anyone else. They were the only US search engine that denied the federal government access to its logs without a court order, when Yahoo & Microsoft gave their logs upon a polite request. True, Google used the excuse that it would expose trade secrets, but they stood up to the government and its unreasonable expectations and demands.

    I trust Google to know about me. I don't trust politicians to know about me.

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

  3. identicon
    Dave, 20 Mar 2009 @ 11:32am

    Be Careful

    If this dude challenges the legality of Street View and LOSES (which he most likely will) then that gives G00gle a legal precident to reference in future lawsuits.

    It's pretty hard to make a legal case for or against Street View, because there's really never been anything like it before. Sure you could always drive around, take pictures, geotag them and post them on-line, but Google ads a whole new dimension to it by tying it right into the Maps behemoth.

    I can understand people seeing this as invasive, but the question is really if it's a violation of someone's "legal" rights to privacy.

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

  4. icon
    PaulT (profile), 20 Mar 2009 @ 11:35am

    I looked at Google Maps yesterday. It was fun having a look around at the old streets I used to know in Derby and Nottingham before I moved out of the country, and seeing how they've changed since. It was also nice to show a few of the Greek, Spanish and German guys I currently work with what my old neighbourhoods actually looked like (grey skies in evidence, the main reason I always say I moved) and it's an incredibly useful tool to get a feel of how a place *really* looks and feels.

    As for people being caught on camera, I have never understood peoples' objections to an undated photo of them in a public place that was perfectly visible to anyone driving in front or behind of Google's car. How it's a privacy violation is beyond me.

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

  5. identicon
    jjray, 20 Mar 2009 @ 11:39am

    googe street view

    I love google street view. Yesterday I was on a local message board for St. Louis, MO discussing good mexican restaurants. There is a restaurant on Cherokee street that I always go to but could not remember the name nor street address. No problem, took a virtual ride down Cherokee with google street view and read the name of the place off of the front awning.

    I just don't understand how or why a person feels there is an invasion of privacy for anything visible from the street at street level? If you are parading naked before a window facing the street, whose fault is it when your picture gets snapped by the "street view" van?

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2009 @ 11:56am

    Hahahahaha I bet it is weird harold.

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

  7. identicon
    Mogilny, 20 Mar 2009 @ 12:37pm

    Privacy at stake!

    People get mad when u take pictures of them on the street. It is a bit creepy. You should always ask for permission, ESPECIALLY if you plan to post them on the internet.

    At least it isn't some douche who wants to get rich by suing Google. I see the legitimacy of his complaints, but they won't stick in court. Kudos for trying.

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

  8. identicon
    Steve L, 20 Mar 2009 @ 12:57pm

    Somewhere along the line people got the idea that if a photo of you ends up somewhere on the internet, it automatically destroys your entire life. When in reality, no one cares about "Joe Smith" standing on a corner eating a hotdog with a stupid look on his face in Boise Idaho six months ago.

    @Alan, agreed.

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

  9. identicon
    lulz, 20 Mar 2009 @ 1:42pm


    Unless Joe Smith was a spy for a rival potato company, lurking outside of the other company, ready to take out the CEO with a dart-hotdog gun; Then Joe Smith is screwed big-time.

    wait, who's that standing over there with a hot-

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

  10. identicon
    Dave, 20 Mar 2009 @ 2:05pm

    Joe Smith

    Or unless Joe Smith is Ghyslain Raza, and he goes through the rest of his life at school getting picked on for doing something silly he never thought would hit the internet.

    Honestly the way people dig stupid humor, I think that pic of Joe Smith would probably get passed around and laughed at until eventually it got to someone who knew him!

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2009 @ 3:01pm

    Home Buying

    I live in San Diego and I'm looking to buy a house right now.
    I use to find listings then click on Bird's eye to look at the neighborhood then streetview to get better pictures of the house and neighboring houses

    But street view can easilly be replaced if I drive by the house, and I do that anyway if I like what I see in street view because things like the yard could be dramatically different.

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

  12. identicon
    Alan Gerow, 20 Mar 2009 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Home Buying

    What if you lived in Boston and were looking for a house in San Diego. Then you wouldn't have the luxury of being able to drive by it. Street View would be hard to be reliably replaced, since any photo coming from the owner or realtor could have old or doctored pictures.

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

  13. identicon
    Mr Big Content, 20 Mar 2009 @ 3:38pm

    Makes Sense

    It's a European thing. In private you have a right to privacy, so in public you have a right to publicy. These unauthorized photos are violating people's rights to publicy, that's all.

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

  14. identicon
    piriform, 20 Mar 2009 @ 4:18pm


    Google have nothing to lose from giving your details up. They only want to make money off you.
    The government stands to lose power/money because we can vote them out.

    Personally I think neither should have that kind of information, and its true that the government is far more dangerous with these things.

    But I would rather that I had some say in what went on, as i have with government, than a company that can do whatever.

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

  15. identicon
    David, 21 Mar 2009 @ 1:45am


    If you're in public, doing something that you'd rather folk not see, that's YOUR problem. It's legal to photograph anything on public land or highways in the UK. Go home and pull the curtains!

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2009 @ 2:01pm


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

  17. identicon
    Tom Rand, 23 Mar 2009 @ 4:31am


    so what does this guy do when say a bunch of tourist's start taking pictures of our wonderful old building just at the same time this dude walks past in the background & BAM he has been caught walking down oxford street
    does he then track down these so called tourist's and take them to court as well?

    when are people going to pull their collective heads out of their nose bag's & realize a PUBLIC PLACE IS A PUBLIC PLACE.


    be it a passer by, cctv, snappy tourist's, beggars, blaggers, cops on push bikes, cops on foot, me, you & the whole world have the ability to see YOU in some form or another either directly or by proxy face it when you are in a public place weather you know it or not there is the possiblity you will get spotted/snapped/tracked/questioned/quized/glanced at/spoken too

    Why don't this dude make better use of his time by lobbying against the fact that you now need government permission to protest!

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

  18. identicon
    Very Annoyed, 26 Mar 2009 @ 2:21am


    For the last few years I have been able to use google earth as a tool to my working life and have found it excellent but I have just seen the google map street view and was astounded to be able to see into my elderly parents home and my sisters house including what type of doors, locks and other security devices they have fitted. I could even see what furniture and fittings they have. If people do not want there faces visible then fine, thats there perogative but i think that being able to look into someones house from the comfort of your pc should be made an illegal view to be able to show. By this I mean that google should place a pixellated overlay to everything except the bricks and mortar. Its an ideal opportunity for the unfortunate people who seem to disregard the materials in life that people have worked for and steal them causing numerous damages to property and the feelings of the victims. What would happen if I stood on a street and took photos of peoples houses to put on the intanet. Arrested?

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

  19. identicon
    Daniel, 23 Apr 2009 @ 4:10pm


    Very Annoyed, what about pictures used by real estate agents to sell homes? What about simply standing on the street and looking at a house? The camera logically can't capture anything you couldn't see just by standing outside and looking.

    And at any rate, the ICO has taken the side of Google. More info at

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

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