Google Street View Is Invasion Of Privacy... But The BBC Showing Everyone At The Royal Wedding?

from the double-standards dept

We've been somewhat mystified about the complaints people have about images of people on Google Street View. Google is now "blurring" people to help deal with the issue, but it seems pretty silly, really. You're out in public. Someone can randomly take your photo. Of course, the backlash against Google Street View has been particularly harsh throughout Europe, where people insist it's a massive affront to their privacy. And yet... Glyn Moody points us to a blog post comparing the reaction to Street View to the reaction to the BBC putting up a high-def image of crowds at the Royal Wedding, and asking people if they can spot themselves.
This raises an interesting question on privacy and balance.

Google decided to blur the faces of ordinary people going about their ordinary activities caught on Street View.

The BBC have decided, where events like the Royal Wedding are concerned, it's fine to have high definition street shots showing the faces of ordinary people in the crowd; not to mention police officers, armed forces and - presumably - under-cover crowd security officers.
It certainly seems like a double standard. Is there something different about this being an "event"? I can't see how that makes much of a difference, really. Is there something about it being a "US" company vs. a UK organization? Or do people just not really think through these things until someone freaks out and screams "privacy violation!"?
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Filed Under: photographs, privacy, royal wedding, street view, uk
Companies: bbc, google


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  1. icon
    Duke (profile), 4 May 2011 @ 7:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: You can't see the difference?

    Once you step out in public or open your curtains, you are not entitled to any privacy.

    Actually, in Europe, you are. At least as far as the law is concerned - there's plenty of case law from the ECrHR on it (I think Peck v UK is one of the main ones). It is perfectly possible to have an "expectation of privacy" while in public.

    And that is probably the difference between what the BBC have done, and what Google did. When you are going about your daily life, you do not expect to have your picture taken, in reasonable detail, and posted for all to see on the Internet. When you are attending a twice*-in-a-lifetime event, as part of a huge crowd, where there are hundreds, if not thousands of cameras present, pointing in all directions, including large chunks of the media, I think there is less of an expectation of privacy.

    There is also an element of consent; i.e. turning up at such a high-profile event, rather than having the camera come to you.

    The CCTV comparison is slightly misleading; London may have quite a few cameras - probably not as many as some people might think - but most are privately owned, and directed at private property (the exception being the Underground). In any case, the part in bold above is also important; images gathered by a CCTV system must comply with the Data Protection Act; i.e. be stored securely, not be displayed to the public and so on. This is significantly different from what Google (and the BBC) did, in making the images available.

    Do I think it is hypocritical of the UK media and politicians to be slagging off Google and ignoring the BBC? Yes. But it wouldn't be the first time...

    * Depending on divorce rates.

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