the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius

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Google Street View in the UK

Speaking of software behemoths, Google released Street View for a number of UK cities today. I know it's been around in other countries for a while, but I've never looked at it before. Crikey.

It goes without saying the privacy issues are pretty significant. I checked out a friend's house, and there their car was, in the driveway. Now what would he - or his wife - or their friends - think, if another car was parked in that driveway? Do you like the idea of people who see your home address, being able to virtually see where you live and draw various conclusions about you from it?

On the one hand I can understand an argument that security through obscurity is no security at all, that there's nothing stopping someone who knows your address from driving past your home anyway. On the other hand, I can fully understand that our current expectations of privacy are based on the presumption of certain physical constraints, which no longer exist. As with many other things, I'm not sure that we have the legal and cultural equipment to deal with some of the realities that technology is now offering us.

I presume Google has an army of lawyers who don't think it's a problem - or who think it's worth taking a chance, at least.

That aside, it feels like Sci Fi. Plain Google Maps was somewhat revelatory, but this is something else. There I was, my boss showing me his house and the street he lives on. Imagine you're planning to move, and being able to check out the street (and neighbour's houses), without leaving your home. Imagine being able to confirm directions, or reconnoitre a street before arriving for an appointment. The implications and possibilities are mind-boggling.

(I'm also thinking about how much data Google has amassed for this. That's mind-boggling - and a little frightening, too).

{2009.03.19 - 16:42}

Comments:

1 Ronwen (2009.03.20 - 01:47) #

I had a look at our friend's place (presumably the same ones) and at least the number plate on their car is blurred out.

2 Dean (2009.03.22 - 12:34) #

I agree with you on how mind boggling it is. Its quite funny that at work our technicians insist on the sat photos as part of the time saving tools we have to get to the houses instead of the old mapbooks with no idea what type of house to look for .

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