15 April 2009 | Team Tamar

Google Street View causes trouble again

Surveillance-lamp While citizens have generally accepted the fact that you're never far from a camera in Britain, where millions of surveillance cameras in its streets, shopping centres and public spaces watch your every step, residents in the affluent village of Broughton in southern England recently formed a human chain to turn away a car shooting images for Google Street View.

Apart from privacy concerns, the villagers have said they are worried that Street View will help criminals to scope out targets for burglary or car theft. A spokeswoman for the Thames Valley Police said there was "no evidence to suggest Google Street View is causing an increase in burglaries."

The popular Google service which allows users to see high-quality photos of houses and streets around the world has sparked controversy about people’s right to freedom of information and the right to privacy since its launch in the UK last month.

The service has caused trouble elsewhere in the world too. In the USA, Google removed images of shelters for battered women and in the Netherlands, concerns have been raised about the safety of anyone trying to photograph Amsterdam's notorious Red Light district.

In Italy, consumer groups have raised a variety of concerns and asked Google to put visual and sound warnings on the cars that take its Street View pictures.

For months, Google's Street View vehicle – a car with a pole-mounted revolving camera protruding from the top – has been roaming the streets of Britain, capturing 360-degree images of streets, and the people on them.

Since the service launched, millions of Britons have gone online to look at their own houses or landmarks like the Houses of Parliament and Google says the technology is legal, useful and non-intrusive. To preserve privacy, individuals' faces and car license plates are obscured by pixilation.
Copy of surveillance-lamp
"All the information on Street View is the same as you would find on a property Web site or walking down the street yourself," said Google spokesman Anthony House, adding "it's a new technology and so I think it is understandable that people will be unhappy with it."

Google has offered to remove any image on request, which can be done by clicking a link on the Street View Web site.

Team Tamar