[LINK] Google StreetView Launched in Oz
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Tue Aug 5 09:12:38 EST 2008
Privacy advocates say Google's gone too far
August 05, 2008
Smile Australia, you're on Google's candid camera
The Sydney Morning Herald
August 5, 2008 - 12:01PM
Google today launches its controversial Street View mapping tool in
Australia amid a backlash against the feature by privacy activists
around the world.
Street View, accessed from
http://maps.google.com.au/help/maps/streetview/, lets people explore
the country at ground level for the first time with little more than
a computer and an internet connection.
Google-branded Holden Astra cars with roof-mounted cameras began
traversing our streets about November last year, taking tens of
millions of detailed panoramic street-level photos.
Most Australian coastal cities and many regional and outback towns
are covered but there are some notable omissions, such as Uluru.
Google Maps product manager Andrew Foster said more images would be
added to Street View in the coming months as they are processed by
Street View was launched in the US in May last year and has since
expanded to parts of France and Italy. Google's camera-equipped cars
have also been spotted in New Zealand, Britain, Germany, Spain,
Ireland, the Czech Republic, Japan, Switzerland and Norway.
"Our ambition is to be a world map," said Lars Rasmussen, Google
Australia's engineer and one of the original creators of Google Maps.
Google expects tourists, home seekers, students and armchair
explorers to embrace Street View in their research. The feature has
already been praised by Tourism Australia, the Real Estate Institute
of Australia and the Australian Geography Teachers Association.
Many of the original photographs that were part of the US Street View
launch were taken down following privacy concerns. They include a
woman in a G-string, a man striding into an adult bookshop and a man
relieving himself on a pavement.
Since then, Google has developed technology to blur faces and number
plates in the Street View photos, although it acknowledges the
automated process is not foolproof. Privacy conscious users who
notice any potentially invasive images on Street View can report them
to Google using an online form.
A US couple is suing Google for invasion of privacy because photos of
their home, located on a private road, appeared on Street View. In
court documents filed in its defence, Google claimed that "even in
today's desert, complete privacy does not exist".
Google Australia spokesman Rob Shilkin said the quote had been taken
out of context and no Australian private roads would be visible on
To assuage local privacy concerns, Google demonstrated Street View
for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Australian Privacy
Foundation and various welfare groups for homeless people.
The privacy commissioner, Karen Curtis, said she would continue to
monitor Street View but those with concerns could first contact
Google and then her office directly.
Dan Svantesson, co-chairman of the privacy foundation's internet
subcommittee and a law professor at Bond University, applauded Google
for developing the blurring technology but said its effectiveness
would only be apparent after Street View went live today.
He said he was concerned that the link to the form for users to
report privacy concerns with individual images wasn't visible enough.
And even with the blurring technology, cars and people - particularly
those in small towns or neighbourhoods - could still be identified
from other features.
At a technology industry lunch in May, Google evangelist and internet
pioneer Vint Cerf said that "nothing you do ever goes away and
nothing you do ever escapes notice ... there isn't any privacy, get
over it", the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.
The US National Legal and Policy centre responded by releasing a
dossier of information about an unnamed Google executive - later
revealed to be co-founder Larry Page - including their address and
route to work, using information compiled only from Street View
images in 30 minutes.
"Perhaps in Google's world, privacy does not exist, but in the real
world individual privacy is fundamentally important and is being
chipped away bit by bit every day by companies like Google," NLPC
chairman Ken Boehm said.
Roger Clarke http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre Uni of NSW
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