Legal concerns raised over Google Maps’ Street View

September 14, 2007

Some concerns have been raised about Google Maps' new high-resolution images in its Street View feature, which enables people to easily find, discover, and plan activities relevant to a location.

So far, Google has used the tool in maps of just nine US cities. It offers 360-degree views at the street level, including people informally captured on camera who can easily be recognized. Currently, the maps show close-up, high-resolution images in San Diego and the San Francisco Bay area only.

It has been pointed out by the privacy commissioner in Canada that the high-resolution images in the Street View feature could violate Canada's privacy laws because citizens may not know they have been photographed. The high-resolution pictures could violate Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2004. Street View isn't available in Canada yet.

Google has responded with the following statement: "At Google we take privacy very seriously and comply with the local laws of the countries in which we operate. Street View only features imagery taken on public property.

“This imagery is several months old and is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street. Imagery of this kind is available in a wide variety of formats for cities all around the world.

"While the Street View feature enables people to easily find, discover, and plan activities relevant to a location, we respect the fact that people may not want imagery they feel is objectionable featured on the service. We provide easily accessible tools for flagging inappropriate or sensitive imagery for review and removal."


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