The Information Commissioner’s Office ruled that Street View, the month old service from Google that has caused massive amounts of controversy (click here to view Google Street View in action) does not infringe personal privacy. We’ve already had hours of fun touring virtually through London and a whole load of other cities, and can’t wait for more cities to come on line!Street View, the controversial service from Google that broadcasts 360-degree views of homes and roads in many of Britain’s cities via the internet, is not a threat to personal privacy, the information commissioner has ruled.
Hundreds of people have already complained about the month-old-service that allows users to view millions of photographs of homes, people and cars, in 25 cities and towns. Although Google obscures faces and numberplates, critics say it is voyeuristic and has become a tool for burglars. Scores of pictures, including one of a man leaving a Soho sex shop, were removed the day after the site’s UK launch. In the US, fans use the site to identify the homes of celebrities and in some cases images often stars themselves.
Earlier this month residents in Broughton, an affluent village in Buckinghamshire, formed a human chain to block a Google car, with a tripod-mounted camera on its roof
Anticipating the concerns, the UK’s leading privacy protection campaign group, Privacy International, lodged a formal complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office last month. But, in a 2,500 word response, the ICO said it was satislied that Google was not breaching privacy laws.
It also dismissed Privacy International’s argument that Street View should seek people’s consent. “If consent were required by the law then the producers of, say, Match of the
Day, would have to gain the consent of all people attending televised football matches who might be caught on camera,” it commented.
Privacy International said it was “disappointed at the findings”, and that some parts “lack the rigour that is necessary to protect Britain from the encroachment ofthe surveillance
The ICO stressed it would keep the issue under review and address any issues raised by individuals who feel that Google has not removed problematic images. It added: “In our
opinion, there is no clear evidence that the community find Street View particularly harmful or insidious.”
A Google spokesman said: “We look forward to a constructive dialogue with Privacy International and other privacy stakeholders”