Google Explains Street View in Detail to Fend Off Privacy Concerns

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-08-04 Print this article Print

The Street View function in Google Maps is designed to get up close and personal, providing 360° horizontal and 290° vertical panoramic street-level views.

Google sends cars fitted with special cameras and other equipment to roam the countryside of various nations, taking pictures and matching images to a specific location using GPS devices. Street View even found heaven in Brooklyn, according to the New York Times.

Faces and license plates are blurred before the panoramic images are served in Google Maps, but the service has still had its privacy hiccups since its launch in May 2007.

People are still leery of the service, and can get creeped out seeing Google Street View cars patrolling their neighborhoods for footage. It lends some credence to the Google as Big Brother motif.

So it comes as no surprise that Google today launched a fresh Street View Web page "that puts everything you wanted to know about Street View in one place," according to Google's Julie Zhou, associate product marketing manager. Check it out:

Street view overview.png

It's really a tutorial for Street View, telling users how to use it, where Street View imagery is available and where Google Street View vehicles are currently gathering new imagery.

This is the kind of transparency that could help Google as it increasingly comes under fire for anti-competitive and privacy concerns. The vehicle locations are aggregated on this page:

Street view locales.png

The overview site will also show users what privacy safeguards are in place. For example, Street Views are not in real time and may have been collected months to years prior to when you see them.

Here's how to get images of your house or street booted:

Street view privacy.png

Do you feel comforted by this info? The overview site has done its job. My guess is there is still some unease about this service despite Google's welcome overture toward being transparent. |

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