Monday, August 25, 2008

Google = God + Po Po

This article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat points to what many view as an invasion of privacy by Google's Street View effort, which sends drivers around the highways and byways of communities to photograph what you'll find there.

Apparently, the Google film crews feel they are above the law, or at least the wishes of local people who post "private property" and no trespassing sings on their communities.

Here is what one violated resident had to say:

"It isn't just a privacy issue; it is a trespassing issue, with their own photos as evidence," resident Betty Webb told the newspaper. "They really went off the track to get to our address."

Google asserts its right to go anywhere it wants. According to the article:

Google's claims to be legally allowed to photograph on private roads stems from its assertion that privacy no longer exists in this age of satellite and aerial imagery.

"Today's satellite-image technology means that...complete privacy does not exist," Google said in its response to a complaint filed in April by a Pittsburgh couple that sued Google when photographs of their home appeared on the site.

Indeed, Google appears adamant that its right to photograph streets trumps individuals' right to privacy. Internet pioneer and Google evangelist Vint Cerf told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in May that "nothing you do ever goes away and nothing you do ever escapes notice." Then, in what the newspaper described as an "intentionally flippant moment," Cerf added, "There isn't any privacy, get over it."


Here's the best bit:

"Our policy is to not drive on private land," spokesman Larry Yu said, adding that the company hires local drivers who are given specific routes to follow. Yu retracted that statement when the newspaper told him of a driver who said he was simply told to just drive around the county and collect images.

I guess the don't do it except when they do.

I say again: WTF?

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to write.

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