Japan, Greece The Latest To Join The Anti-Street View Party

from the jump-on-the-bandwagon dept

Lots of people around the world have worked themselves into a lather over the supposed privacy invasions of Google Street View, as well as the security threat they say it creates. These fears are largely unfounded, since Street View displays images of public spaces, and since it really doesn't give would-be criminals information they couldn't easily find elsewhere; and most courts and governments have agreed. Still, the Street View backlash continues to spread, with groups in Japan and Greece the latest to take exception to it. Officials in Greece have forced Google to stop the project there until it provides more details on how long it will store photos and how it will protect people's privacy. In Japan, Google is being forced to re-shoot photos in a dozen cities because its car-mounted cameras were too high. It will lower its cameras there by 16 inches so they can't see over fences around people's homes. That's a nice gesture from Google, but will Japan also ban multi-story buildings that let people see over fences? Will ladders and scaffolding be next?
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Filed Under: greece, japan, privacy, street view


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  1. identicon
    Jerry Leichter, 16 May 2009 @ 3:48am

    Understand other cultures

    Other replies have mentioned this, but it's worth looking at more deeply: What constitutes a "violation of privacy" is highly culture-bound. Applying your standards to a culture you don't share or understand is highly questionable.

    I don't claim any deep understanding of Japanese - or, for that matter, Greek - culture. But what I have read about the Japanese is consistent with, say, DaveSmith's remarks. Japan is, and has been for a very long time, a crowded country. Personal space is extremely limited. Rooms are separated from each other by paper screens. Pretty much everything you say can be overheard; much of what you do can be seen by others.

    The Japanese, however, feel a need for privacy just as much as any other human beings. They provide it by social convention: Listening in and peeking is just *not done* in many circumstances. We as (predominantly, on this site) Westerners undoubtedly find this approach incomprehensible - just as Japanese no doubt find our fetish for huge homes and thick walls bizarre and hugely, unnecessarily wasteful.

    A culture that is built upon a shared understanding that certain things, while physically visible, are simply not to be looked at by proper human beings, will certainly have a legitimate issue with a service that blindly publishes pictures out of their social context.

    Frankly, it surprises me that the Japanese consider lowering the camera to human eye level to be enough of an adjustment. But that just shows how little I understand of the nuances of Japanese mores.

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