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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 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.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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