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Aftermath of an auto accident caught by a Google Street View camera car  (Source: Google)
After receiving complaints regarding certain offensive images, Google has removed some of their Street View photos.

Although Google’s Street View service began with a great deal of publicity, complaints regarding certain offensive images have forced the organization to remove some photos.
Dozens of images have already been taken out of the UK Street View collection. It is thought the pictures removed contained revealing images of homes, a man entering a London sex shop, people being arrested and a man being sick.

One Google spokesperson explained that anyone who asks could have their images removed.

As for those photos that already have been deleted, Google’s Laura Scott said, "We've got millions of images, so the percentage removed was very small...We want this to be a useful tool, and it's people's right to have their image removed." 

"The fact there are now gaps [in Street View] shows how responsive we are," Scott added.

Street View is now available in a total of nine countries. It first began in the U.S. in May 2007 and since has spread to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain and Italy. On Thursday, it was additionally launched in the Netherlands.

Imagery available through the service is taken along streets by customized camera cars. Camera cars in the UK, for example, have enabled their version to consist of 22,369 miles of UK streets and to include street scenes in 25 UK cities, from Aberdeen to Southampton. Some people, have managed to find themselves somewhere in the imagery containing these miles of streets. 

People have also managed to find ways to view the removed offensive photos by moving up or down a notch on the street. A black image with the message "This image is no longer available" has replaced each offensive photo, but apparently this does not provide blockage at all different angles.

Dr. Ian Brown, a privacy expert at the Oxford Internet Institute, was not surprised that there were some offensive photos: "This is exactly what you would expect from a service that relies on individuals to help Google not make mistakes." 

"They [Google] should have thought more carefully about how they designed the service to avoid exactly this sort of thing," Brown added.  

Dr. Brown also said that Google could have taken images twice, on different days. This way, any offending images could have been easily replaced and could have also protected privacy better.

Google assures it has gone to great lengths to ensure privacy. Its face recognition technology, for example, blurs all faces and registration plates captured by the camera cars. Last year, the Information Commissioner’s office ruled that this blurring was sufficient in ensuring that privacy was upheld.

Google also says Street View only displays imagery that is already visible from public thoroughfares.

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RE: Ontario Canada
By Motoman on 3/23/2009 12:11:17 PM , Rating: 4
They can also legally do that in NYC. Just wait for the first of those photos to show up and cause a jihad someplace.

Google should take the viewpoint, in those kinds of cases, that you are essentially visiting a foreign country, and are therefore experiencing their laws and moral codes. Therefore, if you want to make sure you don't see any topless women, don't use StreetView to look in Canada, NYC, Australia, or other such places.

To me, I am vastly more offended by Muslim countries that force their women to be covered head-to-toe in even blistering heat. But I can just not go there in StreetView.

If a Muslim were to visit an Australian beach, or NYC, or Toronto, and see a topless woman and it offended him, too bad. It's legal and the fact that you are offended by it is your problem. Your only recourse is to not go there. The same should be true for StreetView.

RE: Ontario Canada
By artemicion on 3/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Ontario Canada
By Sagath on 3/23/2009 1:02:12 PM , Rating: 4
Using an example of a culture is not 'singling out', nor is it racist. It is an example. He even says "To me" in front of his statement.

Generalities cause far more harm then an example. Would you find someone stating all Muslims are Terrorists better associated with a context of all cultures find certain aspects of life "offensive"? Neither are correct, according to your viewpoint, nor according to mine.

Maybe the OP isnt even American, what if he is Muslim, and finds the same Muslim culture offensive to him, his mother and his sister?

And again, he says nowhere that he finds it offensive about nudity in the Muslim religion, just that he personally doesnt agree with making them wear Burkas and being covered head to toe. Hardly a racist view. Definitely a personal one.

Relax, Chief. Much as you have your over-the-top opinion, in this country, you are both entitled to them. But try thinking outside the box. Not everyone is out to get you, or the Muslims ;)

RE: Ontario Canada
By LRonaldHubbs on 3/23/2009 3:09:12 PM , Rating: 4
You sir, need to chill out. He used an example to demonstate his point, and clearly it was an effective one.

Cultures in general need to get over themselves and be more tolerant of each other; I agree with Motoman 100% on that. The reason it's relevant here is because someone asked about censoring boobs. It was an obvious step to assume which culture might be most offended by said boobs, so his example makes sense.

And regarding the Super Bowl incident...I am not offended by boobs, but I am offended by Janet Jackson. Her boob wasn't even nice to look at.

RE: Ontario Canada
By Sagath on 3/23/2009 12:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
God, I wish I could +10 you. Spot on.

Without sparking a 'moral' vs 'ethical' debate, the simple fact is Public and private have varying levels, depending on Cultural and Religious systems.

Short and sweet; If you don't like the way some country is doing something, that's YOUR problem. Not the rest of the worlds. Nor is it a reason to change their way of life, no matter how 'wrong' YOU believe it to be.

See Iraq, Russia, Israel et al. People need to learn to let other countries/cultures learn.

We (I'm speaking about the 1st world here) all had our problems developing, and some countries take longer then others. Let them be, they'll get there...eventually.

RE: Ontario Canada
By dever on 3/23/2009 3:36:45 PM , Rating: 2
I want to agree with you... but in trying to judge the validity of your post I have to test the extremes. I think the OP was pointing to a certain behavior that he saw as repressive of an individual's rights.

I'm assuming there is a line that, if crossed, would change your mind on this matter. For example, what if all people in another country with green eyes, male or female had to wear burkas in public? What if those same people were forbidden to drive, or vote, or hold office, or teach, etc, etc, etc... all against their will?

You might still say... "respect their culture." But, what if people with green eyes were regularly beaten or killed for minor offenses in much higher proportion to the rest of the population? Still "respect their culture?"

What if people with green eyes in another country were forced into labor by the government? What if they were gassed?

Have I passed the line yet? At what point do we stop "respecting the culture?" I don't know the answer, but it seems that some things are hard to ignore.

Slightly tangential:

Favorite quote near the end is the Onion making fun of the obvious arrogance of the statement "we don't want to rob them of their culture."

RE: Ontario Canada
By Sagath on 3/23/2009 5:55:01 PM , Rating: 2
If we are just debating, all feelings aside, the answer I would give you is thus:

You cant interfere. You MUST let the society/culture/religion (in all cases the people IN the culture!!!) intervene.

As bad as it was/is/could be, humans on a basic level know what is right from wrong, and just like so many past atrocities, eventually we overcome said adversity's and become stronger as a race.

This is why every country (and its own containing micro-culture) has its revolutions, uprisings and social breakdowns. The United States (North vs South) , France (Parisian Revolution), North/South Korea, and even Canada (French/English/US battles) to an extent have all had hard fought battles over the basic "Quality of Life" that we now take for granted. How quickly we forget...

Do terrible things happen on the way to that 'better place'? Hell yes. But, in my opinion, worse things happen when you try to 'help' (impose) other cultures/countries with your 'right' beliefs. Again, look at Russia, China, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, on and on.

You jump on someone and say "This is the way!" and they will just resist said way even more.

The old adage applies: "Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will never be hungry again." So too, does this apply for Cultures.

RE: Ontario Canada
By dever on 3/23/2009 6:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
I think I might just have to agree. And, if by intervention we are referring to outside government intervention, then I do agree.

With almost everything involving government, the unintended consequences are most often worse than whatever problem is trying to be resolved.

RE: Ontario Canada
By JS on 3/24/2009 8:09:22 AM , Rating: 2
I don't agree. There are instances when there is a moral imperative to intervene. Like in Rwanda, where almost a million men, women and children were hacked to death with machetes over the course of a couple of months.

It was wrong NOT to stop that. Saddam's treatment of his people in Iraq comes off as nice and cozy in comparison. The holocaust would be an obvious other example.

I get your reasoning and it makes sense, but there are situations when the cost in human suffering is too great to just say "let them sort it out themselves".

RE: Ontario Canada
By Oregonian2 on 3/24/2009 1:05:01 PM , Rating: 2
What if that other culture has within it a drive to have you killed? All cultures other than their own must be exterminated ? Is one to still honor that other culture?

When the U.S. was part of Britain prior to 1776 thereabouts, our "internal british" revolution was helped by the French. I'm glad they did.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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