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home : blogs_old : ability and accountability August 27, 2015

Ability and Accountability
By Richard Haddad, Prescott Valley, AZ
"[Children] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are."
"Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It's a good life, enjoy it."

-- Two of my favorite quotes by Jim Henson

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Are Google camera vehicles a breach of privacy?

 By Richard Haddad

Richard Haddad/WNI
This Google Maps Street View vehicle is filming streets throughout Prescott Valley this week. The colorful compact car features a high-tech camera unit on top that includes face-blurring technology, which makes sure people on the streets or driving by cannot be identified.

Imagine you just stepped outside in your bathrobe to pick up the morning paper when you look up and realize you are being photographed.

This may have happened to you this week if you spotted the Google Maps Street View vehicle in your Prescott or Prescott Valley neighborhood. And as mapping technology such as this continues to progress there are some who believe it goes too far -- that it compromises personal privacy and security.

However, Google's Street View car has a high-tech camera unit on top that includes cutting-edge face-blurring technology, which makes sure people on the streets or driving by cannot be identified. License plates are also blurred.

What is Google Maps Street View

Google's Street View tool allows users to visually explore and navigate a neighborhood through 360-degree panoramic street-level photographs, as opposed to typical Google Maps shots, in which only a map of local streets is featured, according to Google Communications and Public Affairs spokeswoman Deanna Yick.

Street View vehicles contain nine directional cameras for 360° views at a height of about 8.2 feet and use GPS units and three laser range scanners for positioning.

To view images taken by the Street View Car, a Google Maps user can click on the orange "pegman" icon on the left-hand side of the map and drag it to the desired location. Users can also simply zoom into the lowest level on Google Maps or use the "Street View" link on the map pin marker. Use your mouse to click forward or turn your view 360 degrees.

Street View first became available on the Web in May of 2007, and can now be accessed in many cities in 27 countries throughout the world.

Breach of privacy?

Google Street View images are taken only on public property. The images available are no different from what you might see driving or walking down the street. Imagery of this kind is already available in a wide variety of formats for cities all around the world.

While any public information can be turned by devious characters for use on the dark side, this technology has many positive applications, the benefits of which I believe far outweigh perceived privacy violations. Street View maps can assist emergency responders, help consumers locate businesses, assist potential home buyers and investors, or just help the delivery driver find my house while the pizza is still hot.

But if you are a resident with privacy concerns because of something the Street View cameras have captured, or wish to contact Google to request images of your homes or cars to be further obscured, here is what you can do: Locate the Street View in question and click on the "Report a Problem" link at the bottom left-hand side of the Street View image. You can submit your request directly to Google. Google says they will promptly reply.

For a quick and easy sample Street View experience, visit www.google.com/streetview

To check out images of your neighborhood, log on to maps.google.com, and type an address into the search window at the top of the page.

Related Links:
• Click here for a quick and easy sample Street View experience
• maps.google.com

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 20, 2012
Article comment by: fred lee

I am more disturbed by helicopters and drones photographing from overhead than by someone driving down the street with a camera.

Especially since the overhead drone or helicopter is paid for with my tax money and the Google camera car is not.

Posted: Monday, January 16, 2012
Article comment by: John Full

Being a "political refuge" from California I share by brothers fear of government overrach that is so popular in the Golden State.

Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2012
Article comment by: Ron R Harvey

I am thankful that I My house will no longer be represented by the stack of remodeling debris and equipment that was in the yard the last time they came through.

Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2012
Article comment by: 6 pac

Well keep in mind Google did receive seed money indirectly from CIA / NSA: How would u-all fell if a hummer with black-out windows and loaded down with cameras rolled through your neighborhoods?? Well thats not necessary the US Gov. now uses sub-contractors espically for their dirty work

Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2012
Article comment by: John williams

David, your anger issues encompass far more than Californians. They are just a convenient outlet for your boiling anger.

Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Article comment by: One That Knows

if you are Camera SHY, stay in your House, any Store, Bank.,Office Building, Parking lot you stop at is coverd by Cameras,.
Hate to get you upset,, it is standard operatioins today

Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Article comment by: david carstensen

That last comment you made shows just what I am talking about. I am from the South Side of Chicago, but I now call Arizona home and have a good education. I hope that all you real Arizonans see that last comment and agree that there are some transplants here that are on your side. I am done venting my anger and did not mean to stray so far off the subject. I just belive ther are to many REAL important things that we should be worried about and not some mapping cameras. Good Night!

Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Article comment by: to David

If you wonder why other people seem to think they are better than you, it might be that Arizona education you are showing off. Slow down and relax.

Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Article comment by: david carstensen

My problem with California? Let's start with the fact EVERYONE that I have ever meet from there thinks they are better than everyone around them. If they spent more time trying to fix the problems of there state and not run away and screw up our state with there crying about stupid little things like maping cameras we as U.S. tax payers might not have to bale out there home states financial problems all the time. You might think you are better than everyone else but most of us know you are NOT!

Posted: Sunday, January 08, 2012
Article comment by: TO DAVID CARSTENSON

"I quess they do not have these cameras in California. If you do not like them GO BACK THERE,ASAP!!!!!!!!!!!"

Good Grief!

What is your thing with California?

Posted: Sunday, January 08, 2012
Article comment by: david carstensen

I quess they do not have these cameras in California. If you do not like them GO BACK THERE,ASAP!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted: Saturday, January 07, 2012
Article comment by: Helps me find my way around town

This is a joke. Don't want to be photographed? Don't go out in public.

I actually find it neat to see it here. It was my third time when I went out into town on Thursday.

In fact, I find that Google Maps helps me find places that I can't find in the first place. Especially when I don't have my GPS in front of me.

Posted: Friday, January 06, 2012
Article comment by: matt radis

What about those people cheating on their spouse ?? I bet a few cars parked in the wrong place have been detected.

Posted: Friday, January 06, 2012
Article comment by: Perspective !

Privacy invasion rights, apply to stopping those who use magnification (optical or electronic) to invade your home or other private area. The use of a camera that does not magnify to view our homes off public streets is not invasion of privacy.

Posted: Friday, January 06, 2012
Article comment by: wake up

Humm / Do you know the US Gov. (NSA) put seed money into Google. How would one feel if a US Military Hummer rolled up and down every street phographing everything??? Wake up suckers!!

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: Jay Jay

Well consider that the police barely need to smell marijuana if they are near your home to barge in and break down the down with no warrant. I would consider that a grave invasion of our privacy but most people fret more about google snapping a photo of their home. Oh well, back to watching American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: Steven Ayres

I hope they're updating the whole area. My old girlfriend's car is still in the driveway from four years ago. BTW Richard, Google doesn't just blur faces, they also frequently remove whole people from the photos.

More to the point, our town and many others are growing and changing so fast that an update once every four or five years is not sufficient for a service on which people are increasingly depending for accurate information. I often wonder whether Google has bitten off more than even it can chew with this.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: brian boru

The Googlemobiles photograph only what can be seen by anyone driving by.

Anyone concerned with breaches of privacy should be more concerned with the drone helicopter the county is going to use for spying on us from the sky.

And the Sheriff's helicopter, his latest expensive new toy and overtime-generator from the supervisors.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Button Square Pants

If you're concerned about whether your picture is getting put on Google's Street View while you're outside in your bathrobe, maybe you should consider putting on something other than your robe before stepping oustide of your house first.

How can Google breach your privacy when you're out where anyone else can see you? Only difference here is a picture was taken and everyone else just looks at you...

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Prescott Lakes

They did our street in north Prescott back on 12/7. They may be filling in the blanks as they did a lot of the streets in our neighborhood back in 2008 but not ours or other adjacent ones.

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