Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Up In Arms over Google Street View

First, if you don't know what Google Street View is, go to http://maps.google.com and click the button labeled Street View.
You'll notice a few camera icons pop up on the map. These are cities that have street view enabled. I won't go into the full details of how to use it, it's pretty easy.

Google will be rolling out more Street View cameras to capture more roads. Likely they'll focus on major cities first. They'll also probably focus on the United States first. But other countries are probably going to be done too, depending on privacy laws.

And that is the issue that seems to keep coming up. Over on DIGG about 25% (by my rough guess) were up in arms about this whole project. As if taking pictures of streets was a real threat to privacy. Really I doubt it has anything to do with the streets or even the houses but the fact that the cameras capture people too. All doing a variety of things. It's not like they couldn't have been seen any other time by people driving down the street but now they are on the Internet for the whole world to see.

I can't help but think, "So what!?" Oh no, Google my drive by my house when I have neglected to cut the lawn so there will be a scruffy picture of my lawn on Google for possibly YEARS! Umm, so? Sure I'd like my house to look better but that's far from a privacy problem or really any problem at all. If someone is trying to find my house I can direct them to the Street View of my house and they'll be able to find me quickly and easily. THAT is the point of Street View.

Some people can read maps easily and translate that to the roads as they drive. I'm one of those people. I have a great sense of direction and my place in the spacial world. Other people have trouble with maps and are better with landmarks. Google Street View provides that. Hell even I would like to see a picture of the place I'm going. Sure I can get to the general location from my map but what does the building look like?

I understand that people are upset with the current government and some of the over reaching activities that have taken place in recent years in the name of The War on Terror. I think many of those activities were and are unnecessary to the security and safety of the U.S. Google is not some evil corporation for doing this. Focus your anger at real problems.

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