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Google agrees to lower the camera 16 inches and blur license plates

Google has announced they plan to retake all Japanese photographs for its Street View service due to complaints from residents photographs were taken from a vantage point that was higher than most people’s fences around their homes. The photos were taken by a camera mounted on a stick attached to a roof of a car and according to company product manager Keiichi Kawai, Google Japan has agreed to lower the cameras. Google has also agreed to blur vehicle license plate images to address one of the other privacy complaints being leveled against the Google Street View service.

Kawai said Google’s decision to lower the cameras is designed to address concerns in Japan, where many neighborhoods are crowded and privacy is tightly guarded. According to CNET, the new photographs will be taken with a camera that is exactly 16 inches lower, and will be a costly and time consuming affair because Google has already photographed 12 Japanese cities including Tokyo and Osaka.

Google’s lowered camera is meant to prevent items such as people’s laundry hanging out to dry from being filmed. The lowered camera will most likely make no difference as almost everyone in Japan hangs their laundry outside to dry due to space constraints and the high humidity.

Japan Probe also has other examples of images captured by Google Street View where a lowered camera would not have made a difference. The images include a high school girl’s chest being touched, a homeless man collapsed on the street, and a couple entering a "love hotel".

Complaints about Google Street View were already beginning to surface late last year when a Japanese civilian group that includes lawyers and university professors asked Google to stop providing detailed street-level images of Japanese cities on the internet because it violates privacy rights.



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RE: Fences and windows
By tmouse on 5/18/2009 11:36:36 AM , Rating: 3
The thing I do not understand is the concern for privacy is well known there and the Japanese love their standards so fences are pretty similar, so why didn't Google Japan not set their cameras to a height that does not look over the fence in the first place? Just because corporate HQ says use a stick X inches high does not mean someone local at Google Japan should not have said something. I guess I can understand since in Japan one does not question the higher ups but someone just learned an expensive lesson.


RE: Fences and windows
By Alexstarfire on 5/18/2009 11:51:12 AM , Rating: 2
Because they probably think it's just as stupid as I do.Sure, you're not supposed to hold yourself up over the fence to be a peeping tom, but some people are going to be taller than said fence and most certainly those on the 2nd and upper stories on the adjacent building. Granted I don't know the exact setup, but fences are usually pretty standard. In those situations a fence just isn't going to help and said person being able to look over them is doing nothing wrong. The same applies for whoever took these photos for Google. They weren't doing this to spy on people. They just happened to catch some people doing things they may or may not have been supposed to be doing and/or some embarrassing acts. The thing is, they are still probably going to catch people doing things they probably aren't supposed to be doing. It's a city of tens of millions of people, talking about Tokyo, and is tens if not hundreds of square miles. The probability of NOT catching someone do something embarrassing is almost inconceivable.


RE: Fences and windows
By Zoomer on 5/18/2009 9:46:51 PM , Rating: 2
Optimal height to be able to capture an image and stitch it together with a minimum of captures.


RE: Fences and windows
By tmouse on 5/19/2009 7:25:37 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry but I disagree. As a company, with the possibility of incurring the legal and financial ramifications, the knowledge of local values should be taken into consideration. Else you pay as Google will do in this case. Keep in mind while your assumption is basically right "some" people will be able to see over the fence, a privacy fence is designed to obscure MOST people. While someone, who is tall can see over the fence (And here I agree they are not doing anything wrong "just looking")it is quite a different matter if they are taking pictures and posting them on the internet where EVERYONE can now see. Why is it necessary to "see" more on street views than one would see from a actual car? You would not get these types of views unless you were driving a monster truck. They already have the aerial views for orientation.


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