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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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RE: Privacy
By mmntech on 4/3/2009 12:55:05 PM , Rating: 5
This is true to a degree, but just because somebody doesn't put up drapes in their windows isn't an invitation to go peeing inside their house. I can see where these people are coming from. Google really should only be photographing commercial areas for Street View. There is no need to be doing that in residential areas.

The whole irony about this though is all the government CCTV cameras plastered all over the UK, yet nobody gets that outraged about those.

RE: Privacy
By mmntech on 4/3/2009 12:56:05 PM , Rating: 5
I just caught my spelling mistake. Yes, I know it says peeing. Should say peeping. ROFL. Dailytech really needs an edit button for these posts. :p

RE: Privacy
By Jeff7181 on 4/3/2009 1:25:26 PM , Rating: 5
It's true though... if you don't have curtains or at least blinds, expect strangers to pee in your house. That's just the way it is. ;)

RE: Privacy
By mindless1 on 4/3/09, Rating: 0
RE: Privacy
By acase on 4/3/2009 3:34:01 PM , Rating: 2
Mindless? Should be humorless...

RE: Privacy
By Indianapolis on 4/3/2009 4:31:39 PM , Rating: 5
I'm guessing that a certain somebody had their house peed in.

RE: Privacy
By walk2k on 4/3/2009 4:51:37 PM , Rating: 2
There's a HUGE difference between peeping (or, peeing..) into someone's window, targetting them specifically (and likely over a period of time) and driving down the street taking pictures of EVERYONE's house/store/etc. Intent also plays a large role in it.

RE: Privacy
By derwin on 4/3/2009 6:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
Don't you mean peeing tom?

RE: Privacy
By Indianapolis on 4/3/2009 4:33:25 PM , Rating: 5
It's true though... if you don't have curtains or at least blinds, expect strangers to pee in your house. That's just the way it is. ;)

I take the somewhat controversial view that if you don't put up curtains and blinds, then you deserve to have your house peed in.

RE: Privacy
By Jimspar on 4/4/2009 5:47:47 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks man, you're mistake and the subsequent comments, tears are still rolling down my face, I needed that.

RE: Privacy
By jabber on 4/3/2009 1:00:55 PM , Rating: 5
Errmm we do, but the authorities never listen and if you take action then you get arrested on trumped up terrorist charges.

It appears that any 'slightly criminal act or protest' can now be dealt with in the UK under some form of knee-jerk terrorist legislation.

Google on the other hand is an entity that the public can have some effect on as its not Govt controlled.

To let you know how bad it now is in the UK, If I walk out of my front door onto the main road then I am watched by up to eight CCTV cameras.

I dont live in London either.

RE: Privacy
By Mr Perfect on 4/3/2009 2:14:13 PM , Rating: 3
Now that's creepy.

I don't suppose it could be made into an election issue? Politicians probably like their jobs more then the cameras. :)

RE: Privacy
By jabber on 4/3/2009 3:30:15 PM , Rating: 5
Hmm tough one. You see the local authorities state that the CCTV is for fighting crime.

However, the crime stats dont go down or convictions increase. So that isnt working but they still put more CCTV up.

So what other use are they being used for?

Monitoring the general public of course.

Other worrying trends are as follows -

The Govt wants to initially recruit 16000(iirc) members of the public to become 'Watchers' reporting anything they think is suspicious.

The Govt keeps sending out supposedly annoymous questionnaires to households (I've had several) asking about such topics as your health. However, the questions cover far more than health and go quite deep into your lifestyle. Just the sort of thing that would be great to input into a huge database for people profiling. Why do I not fill them out? Well they state they are entirely annonymous however, at the top of the form in bold letters is both my name and a large 12 digit code number. Why do they need that?

Am I just a bit paranoid...hmmm

As I've said before I'm not afraid of terrorists. They have never taken away any of my freedoms...only my Govt has.

RE: Privacy
By aegisofrime on 4/3/2009 3:41:41 PM , Rating: 4
Hmmm... The current state of the UK certainly sounds like it's gonna lead to the events of V for Vendetta huh? Oppressive government?

RE: Privacy
By B3an on 4/4/2009 8:48:41 AM , Rating: 1
LOL I really doubt that. And that film is so bad...

I think Jabber is just paranoid. He wont be moaning about them if something happened to him late at night outside and there was no one else around but the people viewing the feeds of the CCTV cameras.
My friend recently got accused of stealing a mobile phone near London, but after police viewed the CCTV tape and see she didn't do it, charges were dropped. Theres many other examples like this aswell.

RE: Privacy
By jabber on 4/4/2009 12:12:08 PM , Rating: 3
"He wont be moaning about them if something happened to him late at night outside and there was no one else around but the people viewing the feeds of the CCTV cameras."

Not much use to me though when I'm laying on a slab with a knife in my chest.

They dont stop the crime. They are only useful for cleaning up afterwards..maybe.

In fact we had a murder two nights ago on the very street I'm talking about. CCTV didnt stop that either.

RE: Privacy
By jabber on 4/6/2009 6:21:59 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Privacy
By Alexstarfire on 4/4/2009 4:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
Of course if they used the CCTV to find her in the first place then it's a total moot point. Not only that wouldn't they actually have to find the phone for her to get convicted of stealing. Being accused means very little with no evidence to back it up.

RE: Privacy
By jRaskell on 4/6/2009 12:44:21 PM , Rating: 2
Being accused means very little with no evidence to back it up.

Theoretically and technically speaking, that is true. Realistically speaking though, there are numerous scenarios where accusations cost people dearly with no evidence to back them up.

RE: Privacy
By Reclaimer77 on 4/4/2009 11:19:44 AM , Rating: 2
As I've said before I'm not afraid of terrorists. They have never taken away any of my freedoms

Easy for us to say. We haven't been beheaded by one.

RE: Privacy
By Oregonian2 on 4/5/2009 4:06:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah.. in that respect I'm not afraid of murderers either. None of them have murdered me as of yet. Only after one does will I be afraid of them.

RE: Privacy
By JonnyDough on 4/4/2009 1:25:03 PM , Rating: 2
...and what do you think not filling one out will do when they come knocking on your door to sort out the renegades?

You get tossed into the pit with everyone else.

RE: Privacy
By Aloonatic on 4/3/2009 3:53:19 PM , Rating: 2
The rules may have changed (I'm going on information from an ooooold "Mark Thomas Comedy Product" show that was broadcast back in the mid 90s when CCTV cameras were starting to appear everywhere) but I'm fairly certain that it is your legal right to demand copies of all video and still images taken of you by any CCTV camera.

That used to be the case, not so sure now. You could try your luck and see if your local council will provide you with tapes of your activities as you got to and from your home so that you could make up your own version of the Truman show.

RE: Privacy
By jabber on 4/3/2009 4:21:53 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I remember watching that. I'm not sure if it now applies to Govt video sources.

Chances are you'd be seriously 'questioned' as to why you wanted the footage or cautioned for wasting time.

RE: Privacy
By Xerstead on 4/5/2009 7:09:54 PM , Rating: 2
I saw that one too. They even had a bunch of Morris dancers in a fast food outlet and tried to get a copy of the tape for that. IIRCC a reasonable charge may be made to produce the copy, but the data protection laws means they have to.

RE: Privacy
By Aloonatic on 4/6/2009 3:29:24 PM , Rating: 2
The good old "reasonable administration fee" :)

We desperately need a program like TMTCP again on our TV screens in this country, especially as the BBC are in New Labour's pocket. There is nothing like it now and investigative journalism is almost non-existent.

RE: Privacy
By Bainne on 4/3/2009 1:15:08 PM , Rating: 2
HA! That was a most excellent blooper :D

True - but if one was to not close the curtains, it could be argued that they did give up the reasonable right to privacy from someone looking into their window u (or peeing as it were). I doubt, if anyone stood on the road and stared into an open Window, that it would be possible to consider it an offense legally unless there was malicious intent. Now if they stepped onto your lawn and looked in the Window, that changes things.

RE: Privacy
By ApfDaMan on 4/3/2009 1:31:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well you cant chase away a CCTV camera.

But more convicingly, the CCTV footage isnt posted for the world to see. i hear that CCTV footage was a great aid in catching the terrorists responsible for the london bombings, but as mentioned, there are a LOT of them, to the point where it is ludicrous.

They are even proposing to build a state CCTV camera system in which all CCTV cameras in my city are linked so police have a state network of CCTV cameras, the main focus being cameras installed in homes currently, which police wish to have streamed in.. a stupid idea in my opinion, almost as stupid as internet filtering, something that will just never happen. Not fully anyway.

RE: Privacy
By ekv on 4/4/2009 5:00:08 AM , Rating: 2
"proposing to build a state CCTV" system...

All I can think is Big Brother. That or SkyNet^H^H^H^H^H^H uhh, Google.

Kind of reminds me of "That Hideous Strength" by C.S. Lewis [the last novel in 'The Space Trilogy']. The parallels are eerie if you think about it.

RE: Privacy
By jtesoro on 4/4/2009 11:06:58 AM , Rating: 2
When I first read 1984 a few years ago, I thought the concept of cameras everywhere (even at home) was ridiculous. Now thanks to the UK it's getting closer and closer to reality. Incredible.

RE: Privacy
By overlandpark4me on 4/3/2009 1:34:55 PM , Rating: 5
Except they aren't peeking through the drapes, they are on a public street.

RE: Privacy
By jRaskell on 4/6/2009 12:49:08 PM , Rating: 2
The Google cameras aren't peeking through the drapes either.

RE: Privacy
By bigshotiu on 4/3/2009 1:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
I am in the process of looking for a house. Street View and Bird's Eye View from both have aided me in looking at the houses from home. It is a lot easier to see them through that than trying to run all around town looking at houses first hand. If it looks good on there, then I'll go take a look at it. This is an invaluable tool for that purpose.

RE: Privacy
By Powerlines2000 on 4/5/2009 12:43:09 PM , Rating: 2
You have to remember that the UK has very strict privacy laws when it comes to photography, cctv etc.

Taking a photograph of someone in there garden (or anywhere on private property) is illegal and classed as an invasion of privicy. CCTV cameras are not allowed to be pointed at private residance without just cause, even Speed cameras have to be angled so as not to photograph the occupants of the car only the plate.

So i have to say i totally agree with the anger. This is a rural community and the residents will be well aware of the security risks. There is a great difference to taking an image of someone walking along the street and someone in there front room.

If Google are unable to respect the privicy of private residents they should only be mapping commercial areas.

The law does not state that i have to put up curtains but it does state that looking in through a window is an invasion of privicy.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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