Japanese group wants Google to stop Street View

Google received another request on Friday to stop its Street View service, this time from a group of Japanese lawyers and professors who say the service violates their right to privacy.

Talking to Reuters, Yasuhiko Tajima, a professor of constitutional law at Sophia University in Tokyo, said, "We strongly suspect that what Google has been doing deeply violates a basic right that humans have. It is necessary to warn society that an IT giant is openly violating privacy rights, which are important rights that the citizens have, through this service."

Tajima heads the Campaign Against Surveillance Society, a Japanese civilian group that wants Google to stop providing its Japanese Street View service and to delete all saved images.

Launched in May 2007, the service has come under harsh criticism due to privacy issues. A feature of Google Maps and Google Earth, Street View offers a 360-degree view of the scenery alongside roads, allowing users to take a virtual walk down streets covered by the service.

Neowin reported earlier this year, on an Australian man who was captured in a drunken sleep on the grass outside his home, when one of Google's camera-mounted cars passed by. Similar cases have occurred across Japan, the United States and Europe, including one case where a man was caught exiting a strip club.

Both Google Earth and Google Maps have previously come under fire from various countries, for providing images of military bases and other sensitive areas. Google agreed in March to remove pictures of the pentagon from their map services.

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21 Comments

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Why not enable people to opt out of Google's street view? Make a form, if someone fills it out - delete their address images. Done.

BigBoy said,
Why not enable people to opt out of Google's street view? Make a form, if someone fills it out - delete their address images. Done.

How would you administrate that? How would you prove you live at that address? Should your building be removed from photos, or skipped over? What happens if your building is not the only one in the shot? What about flats? What about public gardens in front of your house?

Or, or, or... it's not that simple, or feasible.

they are right. The thing here is that in the US nobody cares about privacy so they asume that the rest of the world is the same. Too bad job trying to americanize the world.

"[I]n the US nobody cares about privacy"? There's a gross generalization if ever I heard one. There have been entire streets, and towns even, removed from Street View in the U.S. because people here have requested the removal. It can be safely assumed a goodly number of Americans are concerned about privacy. One American group is even lobbying government officials to pressure Google to remove all images of children.

What I'm surprised about is that more people in some of the European cities that have Street View haven't raised more ruckus over privacy. On those narrow streets with the superior resolution of the imagery over there, you really can see into some of their windows.

"We strongly suspect that what Google has been doing deeply violates a basic right that humans have"

DUHHHHHHHHHHH Do ya think so?!?!?! This has been widely known for a long time. The only part of it that's still news is the fact that they're STILL doing it. "Do no evil", ha ha, PLEASE, was that supposed to confuse us? Trick us? Or does it help Google sleep at night on it's huge pile of money?

I actually find some of this fairly amusing. I was looking at some of my families houses and we saw my uncle putting painting supplies (he is a painter) into his truck with a co-worker. It was pretty funny.

It also works out good for when you are going somewhere and you want to see what it looks like.

I've always been pretty heavily skeptical of Google in terms of privacy violations (given all the information that each person runs through their servers).

But this is one case where I'm on their side. I simply do not see how this is a violation of privacy. There is no expectation of privacy for public scenes. And Google does a good job of blurring things out and modifying the images so that anything even remotely concerning is left out. I think they're actually doing more than the law would require.

I agree with you.

I dragged the "street view dude" onto a random location in the middle of the U.S. and took a look around. Here is a sample shot:
http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=38.5666...536110108275576

Now, in front of that house, there is a car. If that were my house, and I could make out the license plate, or found some other privacy concern, there is a "report concern" link right in the bottom of the image. I presume that this link can flag issues not previously blurred by Google for review and blurring if determined that some privacy issue may exist.

I'm sorry, but if you're in a public place, then that right to privacy goes out of the window. And as far as I know, Street View only has images from publicly accessible places. If you want privacy, go be an idiot at somewhere private. Anywhere the general public can see and access is fair game as far as I'm concerned.

If I want to see the streets of Tokyo, I have two choices... see it with streetview or go there in person. Are these so called "privacy advocates" suggesting that I'm not allowed to see the PUBLIC streets of Tokyo if I go there? It's not different. If I am freely able to go and see the same visual detail with my eyes as streetview shows online, there is nothing wrong with that.

Besides, some might argue that streetview is actually better for privacy than the naked eye as your eyes don't tend to blur out the faces of people on the street, at least not while sober

TCLN Ryster said,
If I want to see the streets of Tokyo, I have two choices... see it with streetview or go there in person.

Not true. You actually have three choices. Location View (www.locaview.com) provides the exact same service for some of Japan's largest cities, including Tokyo, and if my understanding is correct, they provided this service before Google did. Why is this group not taking issue with that company?

This is silly. If people choose to enter a strip club, or pass out drunk in their front yard, or make out in a public street, their privacy is not being violated. If Street View's cameras don't catch them, others can, i.e. news cameras, and photographers who post their pix to blogs, Flickr, Webshots and other publicly accessible websites. And in Japan's case - locaview.com was doing it first.

The problem is that the street in front of your house is considered your space/property in Japan, not just to the sidewalk like it is in the US as land is scarce. The homes are also pretty close to the street so it possible to basically see through people's houses via street view. Localview stays out of residental areas. Google didn't.

ryokurin said,
The homes are also pretty close to the street so it possible to basically see through people's houses via street view. Localview stays out of residental areas.


Have you ever actually used Location View? I've just finished virtually traveling quite a number of obvious residential streets in Tokyo. About the only way these images offer more privacy than Google's is that their resolution is lower than Google's.

Privacy and cultural issues aside, it makes sense that Locatio View would include imagery of these areas - one of the most practical uses for an application like this is the ease with which you can check out a neighborhood to which you're considering moving.

If the paparazzi can do it, then why can't Google? How much privacy to you think you can have when you are out in public?

maybe they should just stop buying little girls panties out of vending machines instead of worrying about who's watching them on street view

God, any excuse to whinge. Don't want to get caught, don't get so drunk that you can't make it home, don't go to strip clubs. Otherwise shut up and live with it; Google's street cam isn't the only thing that's caught you.

Besides, Google's just made public what Governments have been doing with satellites for years

The part that get me the most is, it's not like Google is hoping fences and peering into your room, they are taking shots anyone can see when walking on the street.