Google Street View, a feature of Google Maps that allows users to see what a location looks like on the ground, met philosophical resistance from a group of villagers in southern England, who formed a human chain to block a car shooting images for Street View. Google Maps and associated features have become a vital tool for enterprise and business users.
Maps and its Street View feature, in which users can see a locale at eye level,
met unexpected resistance April 1 from group of British villagers who formed a
human chain to turn away a car shooting images for Street View.
The minor disagreement over online privacy issues arose in Broughton, a
hamlet in Southern England that was already on alert for
"suspicious activity" after a recent spate of burglaries, according to
the London Times Website.
Then came the Google Street View car, specially equipped with a revolving
camera for snapping 360 degrees' worth of quaint English village.
It was greeted not with open arms, but with locked hands, as enraged
villagers who spied the vehicle formed a human chain to block its progress.
"They felt his presence was an intrusion of their privacy," the
Thames Valley Police told The Associated Press,
adding that the Google contractor had driven off by the time the local
The Associated Press article quoted Broughton villagers and officials of a
German town where similar issues arose as being concerned that Google Street
View would lead to an increase in robberies, allowing criminals to scope out
potential properties to hit.
Google spokesperson Elaine Filadelfo wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK that the
response to Street View has been positive, but the company recognizes that the
technology does make some people uncomfortable. Street View has a "report
a concern" feature where users can request that information be removed,
I'd say that Street View has had a warm reaction around the U.S.,"
Filadelfo wrote in the e-mail. "In fact, we get quite a few requests from
residents asking us to come to their town-and even volunteering to drive! That
being said, we do recognize that some people are uncomfortable with the
imagery, even though it is lawful and the same thing anyone would see or
capture walking down the street, so we provide a tool that allows users to
request the removal of an image."
Google's data-collecting services have seen some criticism
of late. Its new interest-based
a variant of "behavioral targeting" that increases
advertisers' chances of success by displaying ads based on users' previous
searches and page views, drew the ire of privacy advocates who felt Google was
collecting too much user data.
Google responded to the criticism by noting that users have granular control
over the cookies used by the new ad system.
On March 18, the Electronic
Privacy Information Center petitioned the FTC to investigate the safeguards
employed by Google
for its cloud-computing services' security and privacy,
asking the federal oversight group to bar Google from offering Google Apps
until adequate security and privacy could be installed.
Google insisted in that circumstance that its security and privacy levels
were more than adequate. Editor's note: This article was updated to
include a response from Google.