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Residents in the village of Broughton in the UK recently chased away a Google StreetView car, which they accused of aiding criminals. This is a image of Broughton taken from a Google satellite -- which the villagers were unable to chase away.  (Source: Google Earth)
Residents say Google is supporting criminal activities

Launched in 2007, Google Street View was Google's most ambitious mapping effort yet.  The program aimed to provide 3D views of city streets.  In order to do this, Google sent out a fleet of automobiles and bikes across different countries mapping out regions, street by street. 

The result was a resounding success; to date it has provided 3D views in many countries -- United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.  However, as Google recently discovered, not every is a fan of its unique web application.

When Google's Street View car rolled into the little UK village of Broughton, north of London, they were greeted by angry locals.  Apparently, the residents of the affluent town feared that the Street View images of their community would give burglars the ideal tool to scout out the neighborhood for robberies.

Describes Paul Jacobs to The Times of London, "I was upstairs when I spotted the camera car driving down the lane.  My immediate reaction was anger: How dare anyone take a photograph of my home without my consent? I ran outside to flag the car down and told the driver he was not only invading our privacy but also facilitating crime."

He continues, "This is an affluent area. We've already had three burglaries locally in the past six weeks. If our houses are plastered all over Google it's an invitation for more criminals to strike. I was determined to make a stand, so I called the police."

The residents called the police, which escorted the Google car out of town.  A Google spokesperson commented on the incident, "Embarking on new projects, we sometimes encounter unexpected challenges, and Street View has been no exception.  We know that some people are uncomfortable with images of their houses or cars being included in the product, which is why we provide an easy way to request removal of imagery. Most imagery requests are processed within hours.”

The spokesperson adds, "We take privacy very seriously, and we were careful to ensure that all images in our Street View service abide by UK law."

Google has taken to removing images and blurring peoples' faces and license plates in Street View to protect privacy.  However, the British incident is far from the first problem the endeavor has encountered. 

Street View in particular has yielded embarrassment for criminals and law abiding citizens alike, catching people committing crimes or behaving in embarrassing ways



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So, um...
By SlipSlideBazoom on 4/3/2009 12:50:24 PM , Rating: 5
Wouldn't any potential burglar have access to the same information by, you know, walking down the street?




RE: So, um...
By walk2k on 4/3/2009 1:06:51 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know about Euro-narnia but in the US property values are a matter of public record. Anyone can go down to the county assessor's office and look up all the property values they want. It's called the freedom of information act.

Now, there were some incidents where Google cars drove past private gates and down private roads and that was a mistake, I believe those images have already been removed in most cases.

But on a public road... well it's called public for a reason, if you want privacy try a fence. Idiots.


RE: So, um...
By mindless1 on 4/3/09, Rating: 0
RE: So, um...
By walk2k on 4/3/2009 5:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
So they are going to rob my house... over the internet?

I don't think it makes it "easier" as much as these incredibly self-important people think it does.

The pictures aren't very high-res. They aren't updated very often (the pics of my house are over a year old). They don't tell you when the people are home, when they leave for work, when they go on vacation, etc.. You can't see if they have a security system, or a dog, or whatever. You can't even see the side or the back of the house were a burgler is much more likely to force entry (rather than the front which is obviously clearly visible from the street) etc. etc.. and on and on. Any half decent burgler is going to want to case the joint himself in person.


RE: So, um...
By xsilver on 4/3/2009 7:29:28 PM , Rating: 2
Plus my belief is that if you have a whole street with google street view and then just a few images removed (to block view of one house) - that only leads me to believe that that house has goodies inside!! :)


RE: So, um...
By mindless1 on 4/3/2009 8:58:42 PM , Rating: 1
It definitely makes it easier. Google maps in conjunction with streetview would allow someone to fairly carefully plan their attack and escape routes right down to bushes they could hide behind if necessary.

You don't need a high-res picture to see where doors, windows, cover is. Why is a burglar more likely to enter the side or back? Only because they didn't have THIS, a way to pick out a house with good cover.

Any "half decent" burglar isn't going to take the time to go door to door looking at the outside, not even knowing what is inside, in a residential area. That just doubles the chances of being seen.

Like it or not, more information > less.


RE: So, um...
By MrPeabody on 4/3/2009 1:12:01 PM , Rating: 5
Actually, the citizens of Broughton didn't take the idea nearly far enough. They should have chased after the Street View vehicle with torches and pitchforks. Then they should have requested that Google post the pictures.

Then, any potential ne'er-do-well attempting to case the neighborhood via Street View would find an angry mob on every street.

It'd make me pick a different neighborhood to burgle.


RE: So, um...
By walk2k on 4/3/2009 1:40:36 PM , Rating: 1
It would make me bring a gun and just shoot anyone who's only armed with a pitchfork.


RE: So, um...
By MrPeabody on 4/3/2009 2:16:25 PM , Rating: 5
Okay, so let me see if I understand:

[Situation]
1) You make plans to go on a burglary spree.
2) You pick a neighborhood.
3) You reconnoiter the neighborhood with Google Street View.
4) You discover a large, angry, pitchfork-wielding mob.

[Your Solution]
5) You make plans to go on a murder spree.

Something tells me you had a bad experience with a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book in your formative years.


RE: So, um...
By walk2k on 4/3/09, Rating: 0
RE: So, um...
By GaryJohnson on 4/3/2009 6:10:38 PM , Rating: 4
"sproing!"
That was the sound of your sarcasm meter breaking.


RE: So, um...
By twjr on 4/4/2009 8:58:34 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Even if this mythical scenario you described was true, do you honestly think a burgler is going to see a mob with a pitchforks on Google maps and assume they are going to be out defending their property that way, every night?


Clearly you haven't been to rural England before then.


RE: So, um...
By walk2k on 4/4/2009 3:19:45 PM , Rating: 2
No but when I do I'll be sure to bring a gun with me, in case I run into any crufty Brit villagers wielding pitchforks.

Of course, I'm American and we always carry guns, so that will be nothing new.


RE: So, um...
By Jimspar on 4/4/2009 5:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
My God, and to think I wondered why us Americans are reviled by other countries. Now I see why.


RE: So, um...
By ApfDaMan on 4/3/2009 1:35:24 PM , Rating: 2
Using google streetview is a little more discrete and no doubt aids burgulars in.. executing their bad intentions.

also, lol.


RE: So, um...
By hduser on 4/3/2009 2:07:34 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't any potential burglar have access to the same information by, you know, walking down the street?

I think Google is catering to the lazy burglars.


RE: So, um...
By ApfDaMan on 4/4/2009 11:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
i think Google is catering to burglars who are smart enough to not risk walking down the street and be seen by people.

then again, if we need to consider the fact that Google obviously doesn't want to have this used by people with those intentions. if we were to think like that with all Google products like Google maps, we may as well just take them down because they can be used by terrorists.


"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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